While we admire Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal of the Hulk, it is undisputed that actors, like all artists, must push themselves to discover new horizons. The actor, whose upcoming film is Mickey 17, is often associated with Bruce Banner / Hulk, one of the most popular characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Thus, it is safe to say that his portrayal of the green monster has imprinted on our hearts.
He did, however, play an extremely taxing role that was not from the MCU but rather from his recent performance as Duncan Wedderburn in Poor Things. Inspired by Alasdair Gray’s 1992 novel of the same name, Yorgos Lanthimos’s latest release is a black comedy fantasy film in which Ruffalo once again demonstrates his remarkable range. Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe, Christopher Abbott, Ramy Youssef, and Jerrod Carmichael are among the other actors who appear in the 141-minute film.
Was Mark Ruffalo Truly Challenged by Poor Things?
The story of Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things revolves around Emma Stone‘s character, Bella Baxter, a young lady who goes through a series of mysterious and transformative experiences. She flees and travels across continents with Duncan Wedderburn, a slick and debauched lawyer played by Mark Ruffalo who becomes deeply involved in Bella’s mysterious journey. Ruffalo’s commitment to developing his artistic abilities is evident in this role, in addition to his versatility as an actor.
To put it mildly, watching Poor Things is not your usual moviegoing experience, even in comparison to other Lanthimos’s works. The actor talked to Highsnobiety about how he felt challenged by this non-MCU role:
“I was like, ‘Holy s*it, this is really difficult material!’ And it’s a kind of style that is difficult to pull off. I thought it was amazing, but I was like, ‘I don’t know if I’m the right guy for this.’ I’d never done anything like this!”
Although Ruffalo was previously familiar with Bruce Banner’s pent-up anger and inner turmoil, Duncan offers a whole new range of emotional details. It dawned on him that a film of this genre could actually go beyond “polemics” and convey the same ideas through a cool, and engaging story. To quote him:
“I thought it was so smart. It cleverly hides this message about equality of women and freedom and conditioning, all of these really important issues that are hard to talk about straight on. But in this kind of film, you could transcend polemics and tell a really funny, cool, interesting story and still get across those same ideas.”
The role is also a welcome change of pace for Ruffalo, who has spent the majority of his career in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
He Was ‘Really Scared’ By His Poor Things Role
Yorgos Lanthimos, the director of The Lobster and The Favourite, has a new film called Poor Things, and it is not about Mark Ruffalo ‘hulking’ out as he does in the MCU. Despite this, the latter keeps evolving on screen, taking on a role he is not especially comfortable with. However, the MCU mainstay was actually “scared” about his ability to play the unconventional character of Duncan Wedderburn.
“I thought the script was amazing, but also, it really scared me. I was like, ‘Are you sure this is the part you want me to read for?’ I read it, and I was like, ‘I don’t know if I could pull this off.’ Gladly, I was proven wrong by Willem.”
Tony McNamara wrote the screenplay, which is based on Alasdair Gray’s 1992 book. In the film, Ruffalo’s character encounters a lot of humorous situations and elements, which the actor finds a little odd. He remarked:
“I haven’t done a lot of comedy, but we had this rehearsal. And we got to really play and goof off; I found a lot of stuff in there. He [Dafoe] was egging me on all the time.”
The movie was well-received upon its December 8, 2023, release in the United States, especially for Emma Stone’s performance. The American Film Institute and the National Board of Review both ranked it among their top 10 films of 2023.
Poor Things is now in theaters.