Supporting player finds solace working with vets, newbies

Mark Ruffalo says Paul was all on the page.

“It starts with the script,” explains Ruffalo of his role in “The Kids Are All Right,” in which he plays a co-op farmer-cum-restaurateur with commitment issues who discovers the sperm he donated years ago spawned two kids, now in their teens and looking to connect with their biological father.

The actor, whose breakout performance in Kenneth Lonergan’s “You Can Count on Me” kick-started a film career filled with nuanced parts in such varied fare as “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Date Night” — ” I like my taste in movies,” Ruffalo playfully quips — is forever drawn to character-driven material, criteria well met by Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg’s screenplay.

“Lisa is an auteur,” lauds Ruffalo of writer-director Cholodenko. “She makes a particular world where she’s very interested in the inner life of her characters. She creates simple stories with complex characters where you get to run the gamut of emotions, from comedy to drama, back to back in turns, and those turns are extreme. It’s rare to have a script that refuses to bend to a genre in every way. As an actor, these are the types of films that are very satisfying.”

The shoot was quick — with nary time for a costume fitting, Ruffalo spent six days on set — but acting opposite Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, playing the married lesbian couple and parents to the titular kids (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson), fostered an atmosphere flush with creativity. Watching the film, it seems they’ve been working together forever.

“They’re two of the best,” gushes Ruffalo of Bening and Moore. “When you’re working with people of that caliber, you really get to show your stuff. I’m the kind of actor that believes great acting happens in-between people and those are the types of people you want to be playing in-between. They have done it for so long, it’s second nature, and they work so hard.”

Ruffalo was equally enchanted with Wasikowska’s formidable performance. “She’s a very honest actress and remarkable,” he praises. “Working with all of these actors was a dream.”

More from Eye on the Oscars: The Actor
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LEAD ACTOR
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Lead actors in the mix
SUPPORTING ACTOR
Andrew Garfield | Jeremy Renner | Geoffrey Rush | Mark Ruffalo | Christian Bale | Sam Rockwell
Supporting actors in the mix

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