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MARK RUFFALO (Foxcatcher)

When the nominees for the 72nd annual Golden Globe awards were announced early in the morning on December 11, many people were happily surprised to hear that Mark Ruffalo received not one, but two nominations. He received a Best Supporting Actor in a motion picture for his performance on Foxcatcher, a film that received three nominations, including Best Actor in a motion picture, drama (Steve Carell) and Best Motion Picture, drama. Mark was also nominated as Best Actor in a mini-series or TV movie for his work on The Normal Heart – which received a total of three nominations, including Best TV movie or mini-series and Best Supporting Actor in a series, mini-series or TV movie (to Matt Bomer). The 46-year-old plays the lead in the HBO adaptation of a Tony-award winning play about the early days of the AIDS crisis in New York.
Coming from theater and independent film Ruffalo created a series of memorable character studies beginning with Ride With the Devil (1999), then You Can Count On Me, and Committed (2000). He is favored by character-driven directors like David Fincher, Steven Zaillian, Jane Campion and eventually Martin Scorsese – all of whom capitalized on the actor’s talent for believably disappearing into complex, empathetic characters.
Born in Wisconsin to an Italian-American, working-class family in 1967, Ruffalo moved to Virginia in his teens before heading to San Diego, California, where he lived for a short period of time before getting into the Stella Adler drama school in Los Angeles. After being part of TV commercials and minor film roles, he made a breakthrough in 2000 with the acclaimed film You Can Count On Me alongside Laura Linney and Matthew Broderick. That same year, he married his partner, the French actress Sunrise Coigney.
Ruffalo has had to overcome some speed bumps in life, that’s for sure. In 2001, while filming The Last Castle, starring Robert Redford, he found out he had a brain tumor, an acoustic neuroma, behind his left ear. He kept it secret from Coigney, who was about to give birth to the first of their three children, before undergoing surgery. “I was certain I was going to die,” he said. After a surgery, the tumor turned out to be benign, but the surgery left some complications.
He recovered, and so did his acting career. Ruffalo showed solid performances in David Fincher’s Zodiac in 2007 and Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island in 2010. He also got all the praise that same year for his interpretation as the bohemian sperm donor to Julianne Moore and Annette Bening’s lesbian couple in The Kids Are Alright, which secured him a nomination for an Academy Award. “The whole experience of getting close to mortality changed my perspective on work … After the brain tumor happened, I realized I love acting, I’ve always loved it, I may never get a chance to do it again.”
In The Normal Heart, which also stars Julia Roberts, he plays Ned Weeks, the prickly founder of an early advocacy group for the victims of HIV. Ruffalo insists that the film may help mainstream America to confront what remains a stain on its recent history. “It’s been said that it takes a culture 30 years or so to be able to reflect on its faults and its shortcomings,” Ruffalo said, quoting a British newspaper a few weeks ago. “I think it’s really time for us to take a look at what happened during the AIDS crisis in America. Sometimes, you gotta open up the wound and clean it out for it to heal.” His double-Golden Globe nomination this year simply confirms what many already hold to be true: the world is surely watching one of the best performers of his generation.
Mario Amaya