What You Don’t Know About Mark Ruffalo

Mark Ruffalo is one of the most recognizable actors in Hollywood. He’s known for playing roles such as The Hulk/Bruce Banner in The Avengers movies and their sequels. He’s also made a name for himself by starring in the critically acclaimed films Foxcatcher, The Kids Are All Right, and Spotlight, all of which he received Oscar nominations for (via Biography.com). However, many fell in love with Ruffalo when he starred as Matt, the adorable best friend and love interest to Jennifer Garner’s character in the romantic comedy 13 Going on 30 (via Entertainment Weekly). The actor was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, but later moved to San Diego after graduating high school. 

Ruffalo is also a family man. Showbiz Cheat Sheet reports that the actor met his wife, Sunrise Coigney, in 1998, before his acting career took off. They’ve been married for over 20 years and share three children – Keen, Bella Noche, and Odette. During an interview with Men’s Journal, Mark Ruffalo claims it was love at first sight. “I saw her and was like, I’m going to marry that girl,” he said. Although he may appear to be a regular father and husband, his life has been anything but mundane. 

Mark Ruffalo struggled with a learning disorder

Mark Ruffalo didn’t have an easy childhood. The actor struggled with two very common disorders while growing up, per Money Inc. The actor has been diagnosed with dyslexia, a learning disorder that often causes difficulty reading and impacts the way the brain processes language (via Mayo Clinic). He also has ADHD, which is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in children (via CDC). ADHD makes it hard to control impulsive behavior and is often characterized as being overactive. In addition, Ruffalo admits that he’s struggled with depression.

During a video made for the Child Mind Institute, the actor opened up about what it was like for him to deal with those issues as a child. “One of the things that was always very difficult for me was grade school. Feeling like I was strange and unique and freakish. I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere,” Ruffalo stated. He also revealed what he would tell his younger self. “I would say to my younger self that there’s help and that there are ways to deal with it, to manage it, and to overcome it” (per Facebook).

Mark Ruffalo worked as a bartender

Unlike many other actors in Hollywood, Mark Ruffalo didn’t hit it big when he was very young. Showbiz Cheat Sheet reports that he paid his dues for years as he took small parts in short films, TV shows, and made-for-TV movies. While waiting for his big break, he worked as a bartender for most of the ’90s, and he’s got some interesting stories from that job. According to CBR, during an interview with Graham Norton, the actor opened up about a wild night he had while bartending. Ruffalo sat next to Friends star David Schwimmer during the appearance and relayed the story of how he contributed to lighting a patron’s face on fire.

“This guy came in and he was wasted and he was such an a-hole. He’s like, ‘I want a sambuca!’ I’m like, ‘Come on man, you’re doing okay.’ He repeats, ‘Give me a sambuca!’ So, I pour him a sambuca and then he yells, ‘Light it!'” Ruffalo stated, adding that he didn’t want to light the drink, but the customer was persistent. The drunk patron then proceeded to drink the beverage and lit his face on fire in the process.

Mark Ruffalo survived a brain tumor

While Mark Ruffalo knows how to deliver laughs on screen, he hasn’t always had a reason to smile. In 2001, things were going great for the actor. According to Celeb Mix, his career was taking off, and he and his wife were about to welcome their first child. However, one night he had a vivid dream that he had a brain tumor, spurring him to make a doctor’s appointment right away. Following some tests, he was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, a benign tumor the size of a walnut.

Mark Ruffalo had surgery to remove the tumor, but it left him with a partially paralyzed face for nearly a year. The actor believed that his career might have been over following the procedure. The media also speculated that his abrupt absence could have been due to substance abuse. After regaining movement in his face, he returned to acting. However, he recalls the turbulent time as being “scary,” according to New York Magazine.

His brother died in a tragic way

As if dealing with a learning disorder as a child and overcoming a brain tumor wasn’t enough, Mark Ruffalo was also forced to endure the loss of his younger brother, Scott Ruffalo, a Los Angeles hairdresser. According to Us Weekly, Scott was found dead in his Beverly Hills home on Dec. 1, 2008. He was found with a gunshot wound to the head and had a gun in his hand. However, his death was ruled a murder. Sadly, the case is still open.

Ruffalo opened up about his late brother during an interview with Men’s Journal. The actor admitted that when he first read the script for his film, The Kids Are All Right, he connected to the character because it reminded him of Scott. “His charm, his spirit, his sense of humor, his daring. How great he was with women. How he sort of devoured life. I’m only capturing a tiny glimpse of him. But I think it ended up honoring him in a really nice way. He was a beautiful guy,” Ruffalo said.

Mark Ruffalo was originally cast in Signs

Mark Ruffalo has built an impressive body of work. He’s starred in romantic comedies, superhero films, thrillers, and more. However, most fans don’t know that he was originally cast in the M. Night Shyamalan film Signs. The movie centers around a single father named Graham, played by Mel Gibson. Graham and his family are shocked when the world is turned upside down by aliens who have come to earth. 

According to a report by Moviefone, Ruffalo was originally cast as Gibson’s brother, Merrill. The character lived with his older brother and helped take care of his niece and nephew following their mother’s death. However, Ruffalo was forced to drop out of the movie because of his brain tumor. After he left the project, actor Joaquin Phoenix stepped into the role. Thankfully, Ruffalo’s career recovered in the years following his health scare, and he’s gone on to become a household name.

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