With twenty years on the clock and his fair share of cinematic skeletons in some dubious closets it is satisfying to see Mark Ruffalo begin to get the recognition he deserves. Often he shines in small roles in big films, or sets his sights on a larger role in a smaller, independent film and yet his quiet everyman quality always has a glimmer of something engaging and real thrown into the mix.
We’ve looked back over some of the many reasons we’re such big fans of the actor. This is not an exhaustive list of his great roles; The Kids Are All Right and You Can Count on Me do not appear, nor do the likes of Zodiac and Shutter Island, but they are all worth checking out.
These four films show off different sides to Ruffalo as an actor who consistently brings something interesting to every role.
4) Margaret (2011)
Though Ruffalo is one of the many supporting roles in the film Lonergan’s exceptional screenplay ensures that each of the many forces acting on Anna Paquin’s lead character are fully-formed and unwavering. In a brief moment of casual interest the attention of Ruffalo’s bus driver is caught by Paquin’s Lisa Cohen walking alongside the bus and a red light is jumped, a woman hit and killed. The fallout is devastating for all involved, not least Ruffalo as the bus driver trying to hold onto a job.
The key scene comes when Lisa visits the bus driver at his home, not to confront at first but searching for the smallest acknowledgment that the very brief moment they shared spun the world into chaos. Lisa is looking for solid ground again, Ruffalo’s Maretti wants nothing to do with her, relenting only to Lisa alone, and then he stands on the edge, his life, job, family barely maintained by his job and it is his impassioned diatribe against Lisa and her motives which serves as just one of the film’s many revelatory sequences.