Mark Ruffalo Credits ‘Poor Things’ with Saving Him from ‘Depressed Dad’ Typecasting

Mark Ruffalo’s turn as a hedonistic adventurer who considers himself the world’s greatest lover in “Poor Things” has earned him early Oscar buzz for his willingness to go against type and embrace filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos’ strange material. But regardless of how award season plays out, the “Zodiac” star is already grateful for the way that the role expanded his creative horizons.

In a new interview with High Snobiety, Ruffalo revealed that he was initially scared to sign on for the fantastical sex comedy. But looking back, he sees the performance as a key step towards ending a cycle of being typecast in “dad” roles.

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“I’m not playing the benevolent dad or the depressed dad or the fucked up dad,” Ruffalo said of his role in the film. “I’m playing a bon vivant, a total egoist, and megalomaniac. I feel like it opened up the brackets on how people see me as a performer. And how I see myself.”

Ruffalo added that, after completing the film, he began to take a more expansive view of his creative potential as he plans the next phase of his career.

“I’m 55 now, and you start to think, ‘OK, I’m on the downside of this hill in a way, and there’s a limitation to how long it’s going to last and how long my body’s going to hold up.’ And honestly? I’m getting a little bored of myself as Mark Ruffalo,” he said. “I was trying to take the ship as close to the reef as I could possibly get without actually running aground. There’s a daringness in this that I normally wouldn’t have. I was just like, ‘Fuck it, If I go down in a flaming disastrous performance, I don’t really give a shit.'”

Despite the risk that came with joining the ambitious project — which stars Emma Stone as a formerly dead woman who travels the world to discover the joys of human existence after being revived with her unborn child’s brain implanted in her head — Ruffalo had nothing but good things to say about the experience on set.

“I think that was the best time I’ve ever had on a movie,” he said. “To play that character, to do all the physical comedy, the language, and to make the arc that he made, it was so crazy and so exciting. It’s one foot on a banana peel and the other in a grave. We had this long rehearsal process where we just played games, and that really created this fearlessness within our little group. It was a blast.”

A Searchlight Pictures release, “Poor Things” opens in theaters on Friday, December 8.

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