"But what I really want to do is direct," is a common sentiment among actors and producers, but it's few who have the stones (or the opportunity) to follow through and go behind the camera. However, for Mark Ruffalo it was a natural next step borne out of a project he had been shepherding for years. "Sympathy For Delicious" made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010 and will make it's way to theaters this weekend but it took a decade to get here. Ruffalo first got the script -- about a paralyzed DJ who discovers he has the power of faith healing -- from actor/writer Christopher Thornton ten years ago and in the ensuing time, worked with the writer in refining it into the film that finally got made. However, balancing an acting career while trying to get a directorial debut off the ground is no easy feat and, speaking to Ruffalo recently, he told us that he briefly gave up his day job to put his sole focus on directing.
"I was so serious I parted ways with my representation and I thought, 'the only way I can do this is if I really quit acting.' That's how serious I was. And that's pretty much what I did after I did 'The Kids Are All Right.' I said, "I'm not going to act, I'm only going to do directing," Ruffalo explained.
However, opportunities kept coming that he couldn't turn down and eventually, Ruffalo had to return to working on screen as well. "And then I sort of got dragged back into it, both because I need a day job and also because of the success of 'The Kids Are All Right.' But I am very serious about [directing] and I'm working on a picture that I'm going to shoot next year," he said.
So just what will that film be? We'll let Ruffalo describe it. "It's called 'My Monster' and it's another kind of based-on-a-true-story that happened to me and another friend in L.A.," he said. "It's about a guy who is a recovering heroin addict whose six-year-old son is in a car accident with his mother. And the six-year-old shows up at this dysfunctional guy's home in a full cast. And he's got to raise this boy by himself and become a man. And it's very poignant and sweet and funny and it's in really good shape right now, so I think that'll be my next film."
Sounds like a familiar blend of tough and tender, something that's very firmly in Ruffalo. Clearly, directing isn't a one-off lark for the actor and something he's serious about pursuing. Right now, he's gearing up for his first major tentpole gig as The Hulk in "The Avengers." But mixing up big glossy blockbuster fare with personal projects sounds like a smart approach and we'll be curious to see how his next effort behind the camera turns out.
"Sympathy For Delicious" opens in limited release this Friday, April 29th.