Interview, Movies, The Normal Heart

Heroes of the Heart

Fresh off the plane from a film shoot in London, the down-to-earth Ruffalo took time from his frantic schedule to call Gay City News as he was rushing to a press event, with his three kids in tow. The agile, 46-year-old actor, who has tackled everything from the aimless drifter in “You Can Count On Me” to the Hulk in “The Avengers” blockbuster, is something of an activist himself, taking up the anti-fracking cause in upstate New York.

Our chat started out calmly enough, but before long Ruffalo became animated, if not downright fervent. Clearly Larry Kramer has seeped into his soul.

DAVID KENNERLEY: The film was so incredibly moving I was trembling. And your performance was the perfect mix of rage and sensitivity.
MARK RUFFALO: Thanks, I appreciate that, because I think it’s a good reflection of who Larry is. It’s important for people to see not only the anger but also the caring.

DK: What drew you to the role?
MR: It’s such an important time that few know much about, and I was honored to be part of that. It’s just such a great role. I’ve always loved the play and was excited to work with Ryan and expand it using the medium of film. I found myself afraid of the role and that usually means it’s worth doing.

DK: What were you afraid of?
MR: First off, I’m not used to handling that much language. Coming from a play, it’s very stylized, which is very different from most films. [Ned Weeks] is probably one of the most beloved characters in modern theatrical history and in modern gay history. And I’m straight. He has a deep center and I was worried that I wouldn’t get there, that I’d let a lot of people down.

DK: How would you characterize Ned Weeks?
MR: He is an incredibly intelligent, caring, righteous man with an incredible sense of self worth, unusual in a gay culture filled with shame. He was ahead of his time because he identified with other things besides his sexuality. He sees this outrageous injustice, becomes obsessed, and is not afraid of a battle. Ultimately, he’s looking for a connection to people in a profound way.

Read the rest of the interview