Staci Layne Wilson: I´ve read a lot about David Fincher, your director for Zodiac, and how he really likes to break actors down by doing multiple takes–like, 50 takes. Is that true? What would it take to break you down?
Mark Ruffalo: For me, all he has to do is just keep rolling and not give me any direction–then I’m blubbering. And after 68 takes, you’re like, “I hope he’s coming over here to fire me.” [laughter] You see him making that long walk from behind the monitor and you’re like, “Oh Jesus Christ, I can’t do this for six months. I don’t know how I’m going to do this.” Then he walks by you and he adjusts a leaf. That first day, you know, people are like, “He’s trying to break you,” but he never did. That was the most takes we did the whole movie–68 takes. You know, I think he does play a game with you, and Michael Mann does the same thing… they try to exhaust all of your “performance” stuff, and eventually you just get tired of performing. Then all of a sudden, something else happens that you maybe hadn’t planned, and that happens to be really immediate and really present, and it isn’t a performance. I don’t know if that’s a method to their particular madnesses, but you know, Michael Mann gets really immediate performances out of actors that way.
SW: You´ve just finished a movie with Kenneth Lonergan called “Margaret”. What´s that about?
MR: It’s like a female Catcher In The Rye. It’s a coming-of-age story of a teenage girl in post 9/11 New York in America. It’s a little bit… disturbing. You have a little kind of progressive modern family. She witnesses a bus accident in the beginning of the movie and she was kind of like flirting with this bus driver, and while she was flirting with him, he ran a yellow light and ends up killing a woman. Then they’re being interviewed by the police and he’s looking at her like [muttering, "don´t tell"], and she doesn’t tell the police exactly what happened. Then the rest of the movie becomes her dealing with her conscious about this thing and should she have done it.
SW: So you’re the bus driver?
MR: I’m the bus driver, yeah. Running people over. That, and “Reservation Road”.
SW: What is “Reservation Road”?
MR: “Reservation Road” is a Terry George movie that I just did, where I’m in a hit-and-run. I don’t know why…
SW: What kind of driver are you? [laughing]
MR: I’m a very mellow, cool driver. I don’t know…it’s the only jobs that were out there, though. [laughing] It’s a perception that we choose jobs. I’m just going to tell you right now–mostly they choose us. We’re not doing a lot of choosing.
SW: What about “Where The Wild Things Are”? Anybody get hit in that?
MR: [laughing] No, no. There are some animals flying, bouncing off the trees and stuff like that. They’re like stuffed animals. They’re creatures.
SW: I know the book.
MR: Jim Henson made the creatures–they’re Jim Henson puppets. They’re not real animals.
SW: So you’re a voice in that?
MR: No, no. It’s all live action, really. I play the mother’s boyfriend who’s kind of…you know…wishes he could be the father of a child but is too immature.
Paramount Pictures' 'Zodiac' is playing everywhere March 2, 2007.