He has been a charming and witty actor for the audiences but his family members are the only people who have seen the real him.
Mark Ruffalo has been a big name for a few years thanks to his iconic role as the Incredible Hulk in the Marvel films. But before that, he did diverse kinds of roles. From romantic lead in 13 Going on 30 with Jennifer Garner and Rumor Has it with Jennifer Aniston to supporting roles in thrillers Shutter Island and Zodiac, he's done it all. We know him now for his portrayal of the sometimes calm, mostly angry genius scientist Bruce Banner.
In real life, he has a sunny and positive personality, says Men's Journal. However, behind that optimistic person is a life path that took many turns. When he was filming The Last Castle starring Robert Redford, he discovered that he had a brain tumor.
“It was big-time,” Ruffalo says. “There I was with one of my heroes, Robert Redford, doing this walk-and-talk. I’m like, ‘What the fuck am I doing here? This is my wildest dream come true!'” He added, “And then I found out I had my brain tumor.”
He found out about it through somewhat non-traditional means. He had a dream about it and went in for a CT scan. The doctors told him he had an acoustic neuroma, a walnut-size tumor behind his left ear. The tumor could have been operated on but there was a 30% chance he would lose the use of the left side of his face. It was also when his wife was a few days away from giving birth to his first child. Knowing this, he kept this information to himself.
“He didn’t tell anyone for weeks,” his mom recalls. “When he finally did, I was like, ‘Oh, my God. How could you bear all that?'” A week after his first child, Keen, was born, he disclosed the news to his family. “I was certain I was going to die,” he told Men's Journal. He was scared that his son would have to grow up without a father.
“I made a tape for him,” Ruffalo said. “For when he was old enough to understand. Just saying, Hey, this is who I am.”
Since then, he has recovered and gone on to do much greater things in life but family has become the center point. They spend most of their time in a cabin in upstate New York, he had bought years ago, according to She Knows. He wanted to stop “basically taking every job that came along in order to support their L.A. lifestyle."
"Sunny and I were looking at each other like, It's good to get to know you again, we're so happy here," he said.
While the surgery was successful and the tumor benign, it made the left side of his face almost paralyzed. He had isolated himself after this setback at what he thought was the height of his career. He had worked hard to get there battling undiagnosed dyslexia and Attention-Deficit Disorder, according to Men's XP. A few years later, the Ruffalo family faced another tragedy. Mark's younger brother Scott was shot execution-style and the murder is still unsolved. However, it has not always been this hard.
He and his wife Sunrise Coigney have three children, who have become the center of their lives. When he met Sunrise in 1998, it was literally on a street.
“But I saw her and was like, I’m going to marry that girl," according to Men's Journal. The courting process "took some doing", he said. “All I had was my decency, wit, and charm – I didn’t have anything. When I met her, she was like, ‘You don’t have a driver’s license, you don’t have a credit card. What is wrong with you, dude? I can’t be with you!’ I was living in a converted garage, and she was there for that, she was game. She believed in me. She was like, ‘I know you’re a really good actor,’ and I was like, ‘You haven’t really seen me act yet.’ And she was like, ‘I just know it, I can tell'," he said.
And after 19 years together, they are still going strong. Their commitment to each other and the family keeps them together and happy. After all, the warmth of one's home and family is sometimes enough for happiness.