After years of treading the boards, Mark Ruffalo broke as a film actor with a captivating performance as Laura Linney's brother in the independent gem, You Can Count On Me. After a few supporting parts in films like Windtalkers and The Last Castle, illness forced him to take a year out. Now he is back as Meg Ryan's object of desire, in Jane Campion's hypnotic thriller In The Cut.
How did you get into the mindset of a cop?
I spent between 50 and 100 hours with New York homicide detectives, and a lot of time with an undercover narcotics detective. What they see, what they do, what they deal with, just the amount of deception and manipulation that they're involved in, it's really intense. Living like that every day would give me ulcers.
Why did you say this was a scary role?
I didn't know how to access him. He's just so straightforward about his desire and so confident. He's such a manly, masculine part, I hadn't gotten the chance to play something like that before. Jane was so demanding of what she wanted that you felt, like, "I have a long way to go." And that's a little daunting.
Was it odd doing some of the more intimate scenes with Meg Ryan, who, to most of us, is Queen of the Romantic Comedy?
In the beginning you do think of people in terms of what you think they're good at, and what they're not. But once we got down into it and started our real, proper, true rehearsal process, we were just two actors working together. We were both out of our element, so there was a tremendous kind of vulnerability and a lot of trust was immediately established.
Will some of the franker moments in the film be cut in America?
I think the MPAA [America's censorship board] has problems with aspects of it. I don't know what the exact cut is yet, but there is definitely an American cut.
Do you find the attitude to sex in America depressing?
Yeah, it's ridiculous. We'll engage in pretty extreme violence in the world but, you know, the one thing that comes to humans as easily as eating or breathing or sleeping, is sex. We are the largest pornography consumers in the world, and yet we have this prudishness about honest, beautiful, two consenting adults making love. And there's nothing crass about it in this film. It's shameful, I think.
In The Cut is released in UK cinemas on Friday 31st October 2003.