• Golden Globe Awards

Oral History: Mark Ruffalo on Religion

Mark Ruffalo, 2021 Golden Globe winner as Best Actor for the TV series I Know This Much Is True, spoke about religion to HFPA journalists in 2004.
“I grew up in a household that had three religions in it, (born-again) Christianity, Catholicism and Bahai’ism, so there were different viewpoints and a lot of debate about that, and I immediately began to understand that all these people that I loved very much had very strong feelings about faith, but all of them were valid to me. I felt that none of them, my grandmother, my father or my mother, was better or worse than the other.”
“The Bahá’í Faith comes from the Middle East – from Iraq actually – and the basic belief is that every 500 years God sends a prophet to mankind to take him into the next stages of his development, so every religion is valid, is part of the great mind of God. They don’t believe in an organization like a church, or that anyone has God any more than anybody else, so one thing I took from Bahai’ism was that a man’s relationship to his God is his own personal journey.”
“When I got ill with an acoustic neuroma, which is a benign brain tumor that grows in the auditory canal of your brainstem, I did a lot of cursing. ‘Why, God? How can you do this to me?’ You know, it’s easy to be an atheist when everything is all right, but at that moment I was having a lot of questions, so I prayed. ‘What does this mean? What do I do?’ And I remember I heard one phrase come back out of all that praying: ‘Just keep moving.’ That became a mantra of mine, which paid off in a lot of ways for me. So that reawakened a dialogue with God, and I believe more firmly now that every man’s spiritual life is absolutely his own and he’s entitled to it.”
“This tumor did not have life-threatening aspects to it, but it was certainly scary. It sat on my auditory nerve and my facial nerve, and there was a very high percentage chance that I may lose the left side of my face to paralysis, which, as an actor, would have been pretty much the end of my career. I didn’t feel well for a long time, then had surgery, but when they go in and tinker with your brain, it takes a long time to recover, so consequently, I was out for a year, which ended up being a huge blessing, because I got to spend time with my newborn child.”
“I learned what was probably my biggest fear, that I wouldn’t be able to support my family. That became a real tangible thing to me, and it was terrifying. I put all my money on acting basically, and then, once you face your biggest fear and you see that you will be all right, it lifted a lot of general anxiety that I had about life, about acting, about choices that I was making. It made me see what was important to me.”