Few Hollywood A-listers move between big and small movies with the ease of double Oscar-nominee Mark Ruffalo. Before turning green and angry to battle an army of killer robots as the Hulk in next month’s hotly anticipated Avengers sequel Age of Ultron, he can be seen in the new JJ Abrams-produced domestic dramedy Infinitely Polar Bear.
That was probably the most significant thing I learned about mental illness — that maybe these things aren’t as horrible as we want to think they are. There’s actually a gift in our interactions with these kind of people, as well as the difficult parts.
In a casually raw performance that recalls his early breakout roles, Ruffalo plays Cam, a man suffering from bipolar disorder who must pull himself together to raise his two young daughters when his estranged wife (Zoe Saldana) heads off to business school.
The 70s-set film is based on the childhood experiences of its writer/director Maya Forbes, and it was her gently comedic take on what most films treat as pretty heavy subject matter that attracted Ruffalo, as the actor told TimeOut recently.
“Cam was committed to his family and I think that is what carries us through the more difficult times in the movie but also in our lives with people who are mentally ill.
There’s a lot of people who are dealing with psychological disabilities or mental illness and they have families and friends and people who love them.
“So a good way to broach what is a scary subject for a lot of people was with a lot of heart, a lot of honesty and a lot of humour and love. That was exciting to me and I think Maya does a really wonderful job and that’s what makes it relatable and watchable ultimately.”