Mark Ruffalo “The Hulk” Interview For Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’
Iconic Marvel Super Heroes Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow answer the call to action when Nick Fury, Director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., initiates a daring, globe-spanning recruitment effort to assemble The Avengers team to defeat an unexpected enemy threatening global safety and security. Despite pulling together the ultimate dream team, Nick Fury and longtime confidant Agent Coulson must find a way to convince the Super Heroes to work with, not against each other, when the powerful and dangerous Loki gains access to the Cosmic Cube and its unlimited power.
Directed by Joss Whedon, and starring Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders and Samuel L. Jackson, Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’ is based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series “The Avengers,” first published in 1963 and a comics institution ever since. Look out for ‘The Avengers’ (‘Avengers Assemble’ in the UK) in cinemas from April 26th in the UK and May 4th in the US.
Compared to the rest of The Avengers, your appearance as Bruce Banner is a lot more grounded. How was it on set, surrounded by these Super Heroes in their super costumes, did that help with the uneasiness Banner felt in the group.
Mark Ruffalo: Definitely! I’m am in a scruffy linen suit that was bought directly out of a thrift store and I am looking around the room at these impeccable human specimens feeling like a tool and thinking, “What am I doing here?” (Laughs) I felt a strange jealousy as I was looking at their cool outfits and strapping bodies. I was purposely told not to put on muscle for the role, so I was the pipsqueak (laughs). I longed to have my cool outfit and be part of the team and that is exactly how Bruce Banner is feeling as well.
What were your initial thoughts when you landed the role of Bruce Banner/The Hulk?
Mark Ruffalo: For me, this isn’t usually the type of movie I’ve been in, or that I’ve been invited to do. It was the one character, other than Wolverine, that I actually thought I can do well. I was a little scared because there was no script yet, you know (laughs)? But I was also really excited because of what I’d seen Marvel do with Iron Man and with Robert Downey Jr, who’s a great actor – he’s one of my “hero-actors.” When I saw what he did, I feel like he re-created the genre a little bit, I felt like, “Hey, I could fit into that world.”
One of my favourite parts about ‘The Avengers’ was your characters arc, in both his incarnations…..
Mark Ruffalo: Yeah. This Hulk is mercurial. He’s very unpredictable; he’s nuanced. There’s a sense of humour there, there’s an ability to communicate. But he’s bristly and he’s incredibly dangerous – like a wild animal. His rage feels real, his reactions to things feel human. What appealed to both Joss Whedon and I about the character is that he would have a common man sort of feel to him and possess this world-weary charm. We agreed he should have a sense of humour about his situation. Based on the last incarnation of The Incredible Hulk, there was the promise that Bruce Banner may actually have a little control over the Behemoth. We wanted him to be fun and interesting as Banner and awesome as The Hulk.
For so long I think Bruce Banner has been trying to negate his anger, his rage. And because he’s trying to negate it all of the time, it has to manifest itself in other ways. Eventually it just blows up and explodes. So there’s a very cool thing where he’s….instead of trying not to be angry, he just accepts that he’s angry. Maybe it’s like a vaccination in that way, in that taking a little bit of what will actually kill you, you start to develop some immunity to it (laughs). I really think that is Bruce Banner’s journey. He doesn’t really know it, and he’s hoping that when he does turn into the Hulk, he is going have some control over it, but he doesn’t know for sure.
How was it for you creating the motion capture for The Hulk?
Mark Ruffalo: When I found out there was a whole new arena of technology that would allow an actor to play what has always been a CGI character, I thought it could be something cool to try my hand at. It’s a game changer for The Hulk because it’s hard to capture real anger in a CGI character, real hard. Anger is something that’s deep and primordial. There are so many subtleties and variations to it, so this idea of bringing a darker, more humanistic Hulk was really exciting and compelling.
There are many different steps in creating this version of The Hulk. It was interesting to me how relatable it is to theater – which is the oldest form of acting. As a theater actor you walk onto a black box and there is nothing to live off of, so you really have to rely on your imagination and you have to put things out there that aren’t there. Theater was my training as an actor and when they put me in this tiny little pod with thousands of cameras and lights all around and I could only move my head, I was able to use my imagination to put myself in the circumstance of fighting Thor or any other being.
What was it like seeing your first glimpse of what you would look like as The Hulk on screen?
Mark Ruffalo: That was awesome. We went into a space that was as big as a warehouse with a tonne of cameras all around and ILM put a motion-capture suit on me. There was this four-by-six foot monitor. You step out in front of it and incredibly you see The Hulk looking back at you. Every movement you make you see The Hulk making the same movement in the monitor, so the image starts to tell you how the character stands and behaves. You also see that the body can only move certain ways, so you’re creating the character based on the physical presence that’s in front of you, which was really exciting and challenging.
I spent several days there and we went through fights, like Hulk against Thor, and I would simulate the fight with one of ILM’s animators for three hours. They took all the information of our movements, put it into a computer and that becomes the basis for The Hulk. It’s very complex, methodical, and in a lot of ways, a really nascent technology. It’s a creature, but it also feels human and I’m thrilled by it. My experience in a lot of these types of films is that you feel like you’re watching two movies – the CGI movie and the human portion. But now we’re free as actors through this technology and audiences can stay connected and track the character for the entire film.
Bruce Banner has an interesting dynamic with Tony Stark, there’s interconnectedness between the two?
Mark Ruffalo: I think they really have an interesting relationship because Tony Stark is who Bruce Banner wishes he could have been, in some regard. He’s this renegade scientist who used revolutionary ideas and took huge risks, he experimented on himself, and because of that he ends up being this incredibly powerful, well liked, well loved, Super Hero. Bruce Banner on the other hand, he did exactly the same thing but he’s hunted and haunted and on the run and miserable. So I think Bruce Banner looks at Tony Stark/Iron Man and thinks, “Wow, he’s actually made it work.” In similar ways they speak the same language, they’re both scientists and I’d say because of that, Tony Stark, he does a lot to bring Bruce Banner to a place of thinking about using The Hulk as something that is for good, you know? By embracing The Hulk, by being apart of the team. There is a really good interconnectedness between the two.
How was it working opposite Robert Downey Jr?
Mark Ruffalo: It’s amazing. He was the first person I called when they offered the part to me. I was like, “Robert, there’s no script, I don’t know if….” He was like, “Buddy, it will be fine, we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna kill this, c’mon, lets have fun.” I had a great time working with him on ‘Zodiac,’ he’s really a fun actor to work with, he’s so alive and he’s so spontaneous and present. I knew in his presence I’ll be in very good hands. He’s just a very generous actor. He really looks out for the people he’s working with.
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