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INT: Mark Ruffalo

09.16.2005

Can love conquer death? Can a movie named after a song by The Cure not suck? We'll find out this week with JUST LIKE HEAVEN.

Actor Mark Ruffalo stars in the romantic comedy as David, a lonely widower who rents the perfect San Francisco apartment, only to find that it's already inhabited - by a nagging blonde apparition played by Reese Witherspoon. Is this unexpected houseguest a ghost or merely a hallucination produced by David's tortured psyche? One thing's for sure - she's smokin' hot. She isn't too fond of him, though, and romantic comedy sparks fly as the unlikely housemates bicker their way to an otherworldly love connection.

Ruffalo has crafted an impressive resume with notable roles in films like YOU CAN COUNT ON ME and ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, and he looks to add to it with upcoming projects RUMOR HAS IT, ALL THE KING'S MEN and ZODIAC. He stopped by the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel last week to talk about JUST LIKE HEAVEN. Check it out.

Mark Ruffalo

This looked like it was a fun film to make.

The big comedy pieces, the big physical comedy stuff was fun.  I’d never done that before.  It was fun. I’d be up in the middle of the night in front of a mirror in my hotel room with like my underwear on, trying to work out a bit that I’d just dreamt about or had an idea about: “Oh shit!  I know what to do with the glass.”  I was worried about scene for a long time.  But once we started doing it, it was really fun.  I could improvise on it a little bit and change it and let something happen with it.  I’d never done too much stuff like that, so that was fun.  I love the scene where I’m trying to save the guy’s life.  That’s funny stuff.

Was there a lot of improv?

We improvised a little bit, here and there.  We’d try.  Little line changes and stuff, you know?  But for the most part…we did a bit some rehearsals, but we worked on the script a lot.  And we were always working on the script.  By the time we were ready to go, pretty much the script had been made into our own.  We didn’t feel the need to change it too much.  It was working nicely for us.  We kind of smoothed out the rough spots in rehearsal.  And Mark’s great at that.  He’s really collaborative.  He knows exactly what he wants and he’s a very strong director, but at the same time he’s confident enough and he’s been around long enough to be able to have a real collaboration with his actors too.

Can you talk about some of the tricks you played on the set?

I like to keep things a little loosey-goosey and fun. But I can't remember anything that I did.  (laughs)

We were told you jumped out of a two-story window.

Yeah.  We were like 15 feet off the ground and I jumped out the window after a take.  I was like, "Whatever!" jumped out the window into the little catwalk there.  Just goofy, stupid shit that disrupts everything and makes (director) Mark Waters mad at me.  And when you get Donal Logue and I together on a set, you're just not going to get your day's work in.  We play around a lot.  And Mark's like, "Uhh, Mark.  Donal.  We're gonna go now.  We're going now, Mark."  And we're just like, "Waaaaahhhhh."

Reese (Witherspoon) mentioned that a lot of the cast and crew had children that showed up on the set. Does having your son on the set affect your performance?

I guess it does. You’re showing off for your kids.  My kid’s four, so he doesn’t give a shit.  All he knows is like I walk off set and he wants to walk on to the scene with me.  He doesn’t understand.  He was three at the time, so he really didn’t understand.  But I think great acting is being playful and childish and open.  So my kid shows up and you sort of bring that into a scene.  It’s nice having them around because they’re fun.  And they’re not too serious about it.  I love acting with kids, cause they’re great acting partners.  They’re totally present.  Even when they’re acting, they’re still available and you can crack them up or something weird will happen and they’ll go with it.  You can throw them little curveballs and they’ll go with it.  I always like having kid energy around.  I think it’s good for a movie, even when you’re doing dramatic stuff.

And what would you say if your son told you he wanted to be an actor?

I would say, “If you can live without it, do it.  But if you can’t live without it, great.” I hope that he would get into an acting class and take it seriously. But when he’s 18, he’s not mine anymore. (laughs)  You’re on your own, dude. No. If he does want to do that, I’d help him in some way. 

Did you play in the cast/crew ping-pong tournament?

I suck.  I wasn't even in the tournament.  It was too embarrassing.  I was actually nursing pneumonia at that time.  I got pneumonia while shooting this movie, so I had like a 104 degree fever during the ping-pong tournament. I didn't know I had pneumonia, I just thought I was really sick.

What's up next for you?

I have Rumor Has it with Jennifer Aniston and All the King's Men, with Sean Penn and Jude Law. It's gonna be great. I think it will be really good. And I'm just starting rehearsals for Zodiac, which David Fincher is directing.

Do you have a dream project?

I want to do a western. Nobody does westerns anymore. 

Would you appear in Deadwood?

I’d love to do that. I’ve sort of been asking around to go on Deadwood.  I’d love to go on Deadwood. That’s a great show. The writing’s great on it.

What is it about the genre that attracts you to it?

The hair.  I wouldn’t have to cut my hair.  (laughs)  Yeah, it’s the horses and the wild west.  I would love to be out on the range on horses,  living that life for three months or whatever.  That would be fun. Ang Lee just did the gay western, with the two gay cowboys, which is actually really good.  But it’s totally different from what I want to do – an old-fashioned cowboy movie.

You're doing Kenneth Lonergan's next film, Margaret. Can you talk about how you two first hooked up?

Well, we were here in L.A.  I was still kicking around here and there was this one-act play festival that Kenny had a play in.  And the casting director called me to do a reading of it, but it had already been cast with some big television star at the time - I can't even remember who it was.  So I was like, "Fuck no!!!  They've cast it already.  I'm not coming out."  So then I hung up and I was like, "Oh, come on.  Don't be a dick.  Who knows, you might meet somebody."  So I went and did the reading and Kenny was there.  I loved the part - that was part of the reason I was so angry.  I was like, "I'm perfect for this."   So I did the reading and Kenny was like, "How about that guy?  Can't we cast him?  He's really good."  And so there was a problem with the scheduling or something and it just worked out that it went my way.

Kenny and I became really good friends and that play was kind of what you would call a "hit" in Los Angeles, which meant like 20 people saw it.  We just developed this working relationship. I went out to New York and directed a one-act play of his, which was a scene from You Can Count On Me. And I was like, "Damn that's a great part. I wish I could play that part." Eventually he auditioned people for This is Our Youth and we were off after that. It was like This is Our Youth, then You Can Count On Me, and now I'm going to do a small part in Margaret for him.  If I would have said no that day, I'd still be bartending.  (laughs)  So it's one of those moments where you're like, "I'm glad I wasn't such an asshole."  Who knows how many people's lives pass them by with moments like that, you know?

Questions? Comments? Manifesto? Send them to me at [email protected].

Source: JoBlo.com

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