Mark Ruffalo has long been a secret weapon. Whether it’s his whip-smart detective in the Tom Cruise thriller Collateral or very credible Hulk in The Avengers, the 47-year-old excels at bringing unexpected sparks to projects that have flashier, more obvious draws. In Foxcatcher, Bennett Miller’s dark drama about Olympian wrestlers Dave and Mark Schultz (but also, you know, The Death of the American Dream), a villainous Steve Carell was initially pegged as the film’s main attraction. Yet Ruffalo, playing the elder Dave Schultz, steals the show from under his co-star’s substantial fake nose. While at the Toronto International Film Festival to promote Foxcatcher, Ruffalo talked to the Post’s Barry Hertz about weight training, midlife crises and body-slamming Channing Tatum.
Q You bulked up considerably for this project. How much training was involved?
A It was pretty much seven months of me putting on 30 pounds of muscle — and some fat. I was a wrestler in high school, but I led with my right foot, and Dave led with his left. It was the mirror opposite of everything I knew. I was making another movie at the time, Begin Again, but in the morning I was weight training, then wrestle in the afternoon, and hopefully nap and eat in between. Dave Schultz was at his physical best at the time, and I was, well, I’ve crossed the apex into decline.
Q Were you training with Channing at the same time?
A For a month we were working out, meeting, talking and really poring over our characters. It was very intense.
Q You play brothers, and the intensity of that bond is clear onscreen. How did you work through that relationship?
A Wrestlers communicate a lot more than athletes in any other sport I can think of. Through physical expression, through a physical kind of communication — it’s very nuanced and subtle, but there’s a whole language there. So we were working out together all the time, and that one scene at the beginning of the film, where we’re doing a warmup practice, it encapsulates their entire history and relationship. We worked on that routine every single time we wrestled together — it makes you really close. But we were also informed by the real relationship these people had, and there was a huge weight and responsibility to that.
Read the full interview at National Post