Mark Ruffalo spent twelve years as a struggling actor and then hit it big in 2000 with You Can Count On Me. Born in Wisconsin, Mark knew from an early age that he wanted to be an actor. However, not confident of his aspirations and sometimes even embarrassed by them, he continued sidelining them until high school. At the age of 18, Ruffalo decided to take the leap and moved to Los Angeles to study acting at the Stella Adler Conservatory. He, thereafter, became a regular in the L.A. theatre circuit. During the 90s, Mark worked mostly in indie films. In 2000, he made critics and Hollywood biggies turn around and take notice of his acting capabilities with his performance in the independent film You Can Count on Me. Thereafter, he swiftly moved up the ranks of Hollywood, delivering one hit film after another, including films such as The Last Castle, Zodiac, The Normal Heart, The Kids Are All Right and of course, The Avengers.
Mark Ruffalo is one of the most successful names in Hollywood today. However, the journey to the top wasn’t easy. Mark’s life has been full of hardships. From struggling with depression and being detected with a brain tumour to losing a friend and losing a brother, Mark has seen a lot of pain and misery in his personal life. In this video, we tell you about the tragedies that shaped Mark Ruffalo.
He Has Struggled with Depression All His Life
Mark Ruffalo has suffered from depression all his life. It started quite early and continued through school and college and the actor struggles with it to this day. The actor once explained that what he has is a low-grade, long-running depression called dysthymia, which keeps coming back every now and then.
In an interview with New York Magazine, Mark opened up about his struggle with depression. He said that even as a child, he knew that he wanted to be an actor. However, when friends and family members asked him about his future plans, he would conveniently lie or make up some excuse to get out of the conversation. He kept things bottled inside, smoked cigarettes all the time and just wandered around without purpose. He confessed that there was a period in between when he contemplated jumping off a bridge and ending his life.
His Best Friend Committed Suicide
Though Mark spent his teen years in Virginia Beach, his family eventually moved to Los Angeles where he began taking acting classes at the Stella Adler Conservatory. In Los Angeles, he made friends with a guy named Michael. The two eventually became very close. Unfortunately, in 1994, Michael committed suicide.
In an interview later, Mark discussed the entire episode and how deeply it affected him. To start with, Michael had also struggled with depression and therefore, he understood what it felt like to feel sad all day sometimes. However, Mark also confessed that Michael’s death was an eye-opener for him for he realized that death or suicide is never the answer to problems. In some ways, Michael’s death made Mark see value in his own life. Thereafter, Mark started using acting as an escape as well as a way to cope with painful memories such as Michael’s death.
He Developed a Brain Tumour While His Wife Was Pregnant with Their First Child
In 2001, Ruffalo had a scary dream that he had developed some kind of a brain tumour. The dream was so vivid that Mark decided to see a doctor and get a CT scan done. When his reports came, his doctor informed him that he was indeed suffering from an acoustic neuroma, a kind of brain tumour. Mark had married his wife Sunrise Coigney a year before and the couple was expecting their first baby together. Mark, therefore, decided to keep the news to himself. He did not tell anyone about his condition until several weeks after the birth of his son, Keen.
Mark, then, underwent surgery. Though the surgery was successful and the doctors were able to remove the tumour, there were serious side-effects. Not only did Mark lose hearing in his left ear, but half of his face also became completely paralyzed. All of this happened at a time when Mark’s career was going places. Unfortunately, due to his health condition, he had to retire from acting for a short while and let go of all the wonderful projects he was working on.
Recovery Took Many, Many Months
Recovering from the surgery wasn’t easy. After his face became paralyzed and his future started looking bleak, Mark decided to shut himself inside his home. He refused to meet friends and family. The fact that he may not be able to work again soon gave him sleepless nights and made him anxious.
Much later, in an interview with the New York magazine, Mark shared with the readers that he was so desperate for work at the time that he called his director M. Night Shyamalan and talked to him for hours, trying to convince him to find ways to let him be a part of the project. Shyamalan agreed to help Mark in whatever way possible. However, the actor’s doctor soon informed him that he was not healthy enough to be able to go to sets and act.
Normally, the chances of revival become almost zero after six months of paralysis. However, Mark, with his determination and hard work, managed to do the impossible — he began making small movements. However, full recovery took many more months.
Other than depression and acoustic neuroma, Mark also struggled with anxiety, ADHD and dyslexia. However, he didn’t even know he suffered from some of these conditions for a very long time. We will tell you all about it in a while. So, do not go anywhere. Meanwhile, if you are enjoying this video, please like and subscribe to our channel.
He Gained 40 Pounds and Lost His Balance During the Recovery Period
It took Mark several months to recover from the side-effects caused by his brain surgery. As soon as he won the battle against paralysis, he realized he had many more battles to fight. During the recovery period, the actor had gained close to 40 pounds. More importantly, the heavy medicines he had been taking for months had made him lose balance. His condition was, in fact, so bad that he could not even carry around his children. One particular time, he dropped his son. The recovery process, therefore, was extremely painful for Mark. Every day, Mark would try at least an hour to move his face muscles. That apart, he would try and walk a few miles each day. He also underwent different therapies and tried alternative medicines to alleviate paralysis.
He Was Compelled to Take a Year-Long Break
Ruffalo was extremely private about his condition. Despite being a public figure, Ruffalo’s condition was unknown to everyone other than family and close friends. As the actor dealt with the paralysis, he took a year-long break from acting, although that wasn’t his own idea. Ruffalo wished to get back in front of the camera, but his doctors advised him against it. With a long break and only a few who knew about his recovery, Ruffalo later accepted he was miserable and didn’t want to meet anybody. Further, people’s reactions to his condition didn’t help with his state of mind at the time.
To the outside world, Ruffalo had disappeared with no news. In time, rumours of all kinds began spreading – from the usual alcohol and drug abuse to even AIDs. The rumours eventually settled when Ruffalo’s condition was made known to the public.
And Then He Lost His Brother
Mark’s brother, Scott Ruffalo, was shot in the head at home and passed away a week later on December 8, 2008. Shaha Mishaal Adham was initially arrested for attempted murder but later released. During the questioning, Adham said she went to get her car keys, and the last she spoke with Scott, he mentioned something about Russian Roulette. Initially, Scott’s death was presumed to be a Russian Roulette mishap, but later it was filed as a homicide. Adham was a key witness in the homicide case, but she passed away in 2012. Without any concrete leads and witnesses, the case went cold. The case of Scott Ruffalo’s death remains unsolved to date.
His Brother’s Death Pushed Him to Take an Early Retirement
Mark took a break from Hollywood after Scott died. He claims he anyway planned to retire, but his brother’s death just pushed the plan ahead of time. Mark moved from LA to New York with his family and even went as far as firing his agent. But he couldn’t entirely step away from films. Mark Ruffalo directed Sympathy for Delicious, which was in the pre-production stage when Scott passed, and the film was released in 2010. So Ruffalo did continue directing, but he had stepped back as an actor, which remained the case until he signed up for The Kids Are Alright. The script inspired him, and he decided to play the role as a homage to Scott.
Meditation Helped Him Fight Anxiety
Ruffalo struggled with anxiety for a long time, but he finally found an effective way to cope with it. In an interview, Ruffalo said meditation changed his life. The actor claims he meditates every day as it helps him calm his mind and that once he had discovered the power of meditation, his entire outlook to life was transformed. Ruffalo decided to try meditation when a friend could triumph over addiction with a meditation program’s help. Seeing the positive results meditation bore for his friend, Mark decided to give it a shot.
His Late Diagnosis of ADHD and Dyslexia Made his Childhood Hard
Ruffalo’s childhood was a difficult one amid financial woes and depression. The actor has confessed that he was miserable in grade school and always felt like he didn’t belong. At such a young age, Ruffalo already felt as though life was hard and didn’t know how one could deal with it.
Later in life, when Ruffalo was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, he realized the conditions contributed to his childhood misery. In classic Mark-Ruffalo style, he chose to learn from life and make sure he would help others with similar problems. In 2017, he participated in the MyYoungerSelf initiative by the Child Mind Institute. As part of the initiative, celebrities spoke about their learning disorders and what they would tell their younger selves whey they struggled with these disorders. Ruffalo even moved from upstate New York to New York City so his children could go to a school with a program for the dyslexic, ensuring they didn’t experience what he did.
When you look at Mark Ruffalo’s history, you realize the man’s a true hero. He overcame a world of problems, right from poverty to mental and physical health, to not only achieve his dream of becoming an actor but use his influence and resources to give back to society.
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