One to watch: Mark Ruffan is In the Out
2001 was supposed to be the year that hunky actor MARK RUFFALO hit the big-time but then the doctor gave him some bad news. Words: Tom Dawson.
uffalo’s performance as the rebellious sibling in
the Oscar-nominated You (an (‘umrt on Me had
the American critics comparing him to Brando and Nicholson. He’d been cast in M Night Shyamalan’s Signs when the doctors diagnosed the Wisconsin-born actor with a brain tumour. ‘The left side of my face went paralysed after surgery. and they didn’t know if the movement was going to come back.’ recalls the genial 35-year-old. ‘lt was a really scary time. I felt I'd lost everything I was trying to work for — I had a new family. no income. and I thought my life’s dream had been smashed. l was lucky to survive it.‘
Having made a full recovery. Ruffan threw himself
back into work. and three of his films open in Scotland over the next few months. There's the sharply insightful L'S indie XX/XY. in which he's a former independent film director struggling to come to terms with the compromises of adult life. There‘s the terminal illness drama. My Life ll’itlzout Me. in which he plays opposite Sara Polley. but first up is Jane (‘ainpion's atmospheric and unsettling erotic thriller. In the Cut. which unfolds in a fearful post-()ll l Manhattan.
lf XX/XY plays on Ruffalo's toothy grin and youthful good looks. then In the (‘11! dispenses with this boyish persona. His character. Molloy. is a tough guy homicide detective. who begins a passionate affair with Meg Ryan's college teacher. ‘I knew when I got sent the script that it was a tough part. but that I had to do this film.‘ explains Ruffalo. ‘lt scared me. I hadn't had the chance to play someone so adult and manly. Molloy knows what he wants. He has convictions and desires. lle's seen an enormous amount. He’s a man who has lived a life. lle‘s kind of a throwback. we haven't seen him in modern cinema for quite some time. We don't know what it is to be a man any more.’
Preparing to play Molloy involved Ruffan improvising with potential female lead actresses in auditions after Nicole Kidman withdrew from the
26 THE LIST 7’)"; Oct 115‘ N0. I’ll/T3
'IT SCARED ME. I HADN'T HAD THE CHANCE TO PLAY SOMEONE SO ADULT AND MANLY'
project. also having numerous conversations about the character with (‘ampion during the pre-production process. and spending time with some real-life undercover cops. ‘I wanted to put Molloy together on a physical. external level.‘ he says. 'I spent a lot of time with detectives in bars. drinking and talking. and then he started to come to life. By the time we started to rehearse. l'd put the moustache on and cut my hair. and all of a sudden the character started to breathe. What was hard. though. was making him the object of somebody else‘s desire and maintaining the conceit of him being a possible serial killer. You have to leave it open in the audience's mind that he could be a killer.’
livery day on the shoot Ruffan went back to his own apartment on the liast Side to be with his family. Presumably Molloy wasn't the easiest character to just leave behind on the set. "l‘hat‘s right. especially because of the improvisational nature of the way lane worked. You had to be ready for anything to happen. she would throw anything at you at any given time. There was no shot list. we never knew how we were going to start a scene. At the cast dinner before we started shooting one of the actors came tip to me and started getting in my face. 1 suddenly realised that Jane had orchestrated this thing — she was constantly doing shit like that.’
As Ruffan rattles off titles of other films he's already finished. such as Michel (iondry's liter/ml Sunshine and an Andre In the Bedroom Dubus' adaptation. We Don't Live Here Airy/note. one senses an actor making up for lost time. "l‘he brain tumour has made me enjoy my work.‘ he reveals. ‘l'm not afraid any more. When you see that your life has an end to it. you suddenly realise you have to live your own life. not somebody else’s.‘
In the Cut opens on Fri 31 Oct. My Life Without Me opens on Fri 7. Both are on general release. See review.
And it’s 1,2,3,4, what are we fighting for?
APATHY: IT'S THE GIFT FROM modern youth that keeps on taking. 80 goes the cliche’. Well, maybe it's time to head down to Pilton, where the kids have been kicking against warmongers and tools. On Saturday 8 November at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh. Pilton Video presents Old Enough to Know Better. 8 28 minute documentary about how. in March 2003. thousands of schoolchildren organised mass school walkouts and took to the streets to protest against the war in Iraq. Made by over 20 young people who were given DV camcorders to document their experience. the finished film is an impressive achievement. John Pilger's new documentary. Breaking the Silence, will also be screened. followed by a O&A. Be there. or be a reactionary, old oil pipe-layer.
EVERYBODY HATES SCREAMING babies, but they become doubly annoying in cinemas, so what a great idea The Big Scream at the Cameo in Edinburgh is. It offers parents with babes-in-arms a chance to go to the cinema without having to worry about a babysitter. The next one is on Thursday 6 November at 10.30am and the film is Jour de Fete. You can’t get in without a baby - boo hoo, sorry.
THE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL will be taking over an house screens in Glasgow and Edinburgh between the 7—30 November. and the selection is yet again pretty solid this year. even if it is solely aimed at a certain type of middle-l class inhabitant of Morningside or Kelvinside. But don't miss Marie Jo and Her Two Lovers or The Mystery of the Yellow Room. both by Robert Guediguian, France's answer to Mike Leigh and a filmmaker who leaves his contemporaries standing.