The TRAGIC REAL Life Story of Mark Ruffalo
You are watching The Story! Every Monday we bring you a deep dive into the fascinating lives of incredible people! Welcome to ALUX.com! The place where future billionaires come to get inspired. If you’re not subscribed yet, you’re missing out! Hello Aluxers and welcome back. Mark Ruffalo is a beloved actor best known for playing the Hulk in the incredibly successful Avengers franchise. Ruffalo seems nothing like the Hulk in his real life with his calm and laid-back demeanor. Unless he is talking about politics or global warming—topics which he is very passionate about—you would think he doesn’t have a care in the world. But the truth is Mark has dealt with plenty of tragedy in his life, including health issues, career failures, unexpected deaths, and more. Today we’re going to tell the story of his tragic past, but first a little background. Mark Ruffalo is an American actor who has been active in Hollywood for 30 years. As we mentioned, he is best known for playing the role of Hulk, but he has also starred in numerous other movies, including Zodiac, The Kids Are Alright, Foxcatcher, The Normal Heart, and Spotlight. When not filming for Marvel, Mark is drawn toward independent films because he says their scripts and characters are better developed than those of big studio films. Mark is married to actress Sunrise Coigney, and they have three children: Keen, Bella, and Odette. His net worth is estimated to be $30 million. Now Mark seems to be in the prime of his life, but he has endured many challenges before getting to where he is today. To get a better understanding of the struggles he has faced, we need to go back to where it all began. Mark Ruffalo was born in 1967, and he had a happy childhood even though he struggled in school due to his undiagnosed dyslexia. He didn’t face his first real struggles until after high school when his family decided to move to San Diego, California. Their family went from being happy and financially secure to divided and broke in a matter of six months. His father, Frank, then decided to leave his mother and him behind along with his two sisters and brother and took off for Wisconsin. Ruffalo was left to fend for himself, and he decided he would try to become an actor. He moved into a cheap apartment along with two friends and his brother Scott in Los Angeles. Over the next nine years, he worked as a bartender, barely making ends meet, while he dedicated most of his time to the Orpheus Theatre Company, which he co-founded. During these nine years, he estimates that he auditioned for up to 800 roles without ever hearing back from any of them. He also had to deal with a major tragedy when his best friend Michael killed himself in 1994. Mark said that his death made him even more determined to succeed as an actor. Ruffalo was just about to give up on his dream of becoming an actor when he finally got a break in Hollywood. He got rave reviews for his role in a play in New York called “This Is Our Youth,” which led to his first major film role in the year 2000 when he was 33. That film was You Can Count on Me with popular actress Laura Linney. His acclaimed performance in that film led to feature roles in The Last Castle, XX/YY, and Windtalkers over the next two years. But just when it looked like he was poised to become a major star, he had a major health crisis. In 2002, he was finally living his dream as he was working alongside one of his biggest acting inspirations, Robert Redford, for the film The Last Castle. It all seemed so surreal to him after so many years as a struggling actor, but then out of nowhere, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He had been cast to star in the M. Night Shyamalan film Signs, but one night he had a strange dream that made him believe that he had a brain tumor. He went to the doctor and told them of his dream, and the doctor was incredulous to find out that he did, in fact, have an acoustic neuroma, which is a type of brain tumor. The tumor was not cancerous, but it was the size of a golf ball and was still growing. Surgery was required, and there were many risks involved, including a high chance that Ruffalo could lose his hearing. Mark had to inform production that he could not proceed with the film Signs, and his role was given to Joaquin Phoenix. But he didn’t tell anyone else about the tumor, including his wife of two years Sunrise because she was just a few weeks away from giving birth to their first child. After his son Keen was born, he finally told his family what he was going through, and surgery was scheduled three weeks after the birth. Ruffalo was convinced he was going to die, so he recorded a video for his son to watch when he got older. And his fears weren’t unfounded as he technically did die for just a brief time while on the operating table. His heart stopped, but the doctors were able to revive him. The tumor was successfully removed, but Mark was left with complete hearing loss in his left ear, and the left side of his face was totally paralyzed. He didn’t even have the ability to close his left eye. He was grateful to be alive but at the same time terrified that he had lost his acting career. The doctors didn’t give him many assurances. He was told that if the paralysis lasted for more than seven months, he would probably never fully recover. Month seven came and went with no progress, but finally, at month 10, the paralysis began to subside. At that point, he had been away from Hollywood for about a year, and many rumors were swirling about why he’d gone missing. It took him a while to reclaim his status as a respected actor, but by 2004 he was working regularly again. Just a few years later, though, tragedy would strike once more. On December 1st, 2008, Mark got a call that would change his life. His only brother, Scott, had died of a gunshot wound to the head. The 39-year-old was found shot in the side of the head outside of his home in Los Angeles. He was rushed to the hospital but never regained consciousness and died a week later. Police never determined what happened. It looked like he had been shot execution-style, but the two people who were at his home when it happened claimed he had shot himself. No charges were ever filed, and the loss of his brother under these unclear circumstances continues to haunt Ruffalo. He dropped out of the film he was set to star in and disappeared from Hollywood yet again to grieve. His brother’s death wasn’t the only unexpected death he has had to deal with over the years. In 2006, his friend Chris Penn—the brother of actor Sean Penn—died of a suspected overdose at the age of 40. Mark got into a physical altercation with a member of the paparazzi who showed up at Chris’ funeral and took his memory card. He was investigated, but no charges were filed. In 2008, another one of his good friends, Heath Ledger, passed away from an accidental overdose. In 2010, he found himself trying to convince people that he was not a terrorist after Pennsylvania’s Office of Homeland Security placed him on the terror watch list, apparently, because he had spoken out against natural gas drilling in the United States. At first, he thought it was pretty ridiculous and funny, but when he realized that people were taking it seriously and it was damaging his reputation, he had to work hard to set the record straight and restore confidence in him. But finally, after a tumultuous 20 years in Hollywood, his life and career were about to take a turn for the better. In 2011, Ruffalo was given the opportunity of a lifetime when he was offered the role of the Incredible Hulk in the first movie in the Avengers franchise. It was the first time an actor had played the Hulk and also his alter-ego Bruce Banner in the same movie. He earned about three million dollars for his role in the film, which grossed $1.5 billion worldwide. The success of this film paved the way for a string of Marvel blockbusters, most of which surpassed one billion dollars at the box office. Mark is now happier than ever with his secure career, good health, and strong family, and he hopes that his days of sadness and tragedy are behind him. However, with everything he’s gone through, he’s built up a resilient spirit that will allow him to face whatever the future holds. And Aluxers, if you have ever faced tragedy or major challenges in your life, we recommend you check out the book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. This inspiring book was written by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg after the sudden death of her husband. She gives practical advice and proven strategies to build resilience and move forward after times of crisis. This book is 28 dollars and worth every penny, but you can get it for free. Just go to alux.com/freebook and sign up so that you can get the audiobook version for free thanks to our partnership with Audible! While researching his story, we’ve come across this inspiring quote from Ruffalo we’d like to share with you, and it goes like this: So follow Mark’s advice and stay true to yourself no matter what outside forces try to knock you off course. Now that we’re wrapping up this story, we’d like to know: Let us know what you think in the comments. And, of course, for sticking with us until the end, here’s your… Louis Leterrier, the director of The Incredible Hulk, named Ruffalo as his top choice to play the Hulk in the 2008 film. However, he was overruled by the studio, who wanted Edward Norton. Creative differences led to Norton and Marvel parting ways before the Avengers franchise was introduced, but Norton says he doesn’t regret it since he would not want to commit so much of his life to playing one role. Thank you for spending some time with us Aluxers. Make sure to like and subscribe so you never miss another video. We also handpicked these videos which we recommend you watch next. You can talk to us on all social medias or ask a question on our website ALUX.com! Thank you for being an Aluxer and we’ll see you back tomorrow.