Almost immediately after speaking with Downey, we had a chance to talk with Ruffalo, whose Bruce Banner we had only seen briefly in the post-credits scene of Iron Man 3, but otherwise, we hadn’t really seen or heard anything more about the Hulk or what he’s been doing since then, although we did know already that both Banner and Hulk will play a much bigger role in the upcoming “Age of Ultron.”
The interview began with one of the journalists who went to the set of the previous “Avengers” movie asking Ruffalo whether he might show us something from his phone since he gave us our first look at the Hulk from his phone last time. This time, we tried to learn more about how the Hulk has evolved from the previous “Avengers” movie.
Q: Do you have your phone with you?
Mark Ruffalo: I don’t have my phone with me. They purposely left pockets out of my costume for some bizarre reason now. Maybe, that’s it.
Q: When you got the script and you were noticing that the beginning has you in relationship with Scarlet, were you like “This is gonna be a really tough job.”
Ruffalo: We don’t have a relationship. What kind of a relationship?
Q: We heard that maybe there was a closer relationship between the characters?
Ruffalo: Did you tell him that? Oh yeah, I’ll play along. Yeah, yeah. There’s a really important relationship between…. (pretends to get electrocuted). I was just happy that I was in the movie at all, and any scenes that I got to be with her were a big bonus.
Q: It seems like the response to the Avengers and the way the Hulk and Bruce were handled, it feels like Marvel finally figured how that character, and you guys were finally able to make the definitive Hulk. This time around what is the balance between Banner and Hulk? Are you still struggling to not let him out or because he’s become a hero, is there more incentive to let him off the leash?
Ruffalo: There’s more of him and I think there’s still… I don’t think Banner and Hulk have come to a détente. We left the last time with this idea that you know I’m always angry and therefore I have some control over it, but anger, when you think you have control over it, you absolutely don’t. So there’s still a wrangling going on, there is a confrontation brewing between the Hulk consciousness and the Banner consciousness that I think we’re starting to head into right now.
Q: We got a really good idea of the relationship between Tony and Bruce in “Avengers.” Obviously in “Iron Man 3,” it’s kinda hinted it’s continued, and we’ve heard that they both have an extremely important role in the creation of Ultron. This seems like a very core relationship. Can you talk about that in this film?
Ruffalo: Yeah, basically Tony took the orphan Banner into the fold. I was just made aware of where my apartment was in the Stark Tower, so you know, I think they’re working… I have a lab now and Banner’s working on a lot of stuff and Tony’s working on his own stuff and you know, they complement each other. So you could tell that in this film that they’ve been working together, and they’ve gotten even more of a shorthand together, and know really how to work well together. That’s been built up quite a lot, and it’s fun, it’s cool.
Q: As a follow-up they had mentioned yesterday that you fight Tony in his Hulkbuster armor. Is that more of a like, “Hey can I take you down?” like a mutual decision fight?
Ruffalo: You mean like, “Hey, hey let’s see if we can…?” It’s a little bit like Cool Hand Luke that way. Do you think you could beat me and then I’ll beat the crap out of you and then I beat the crap out of him. (laughter) It’s kinda’ like that, but not totally like that. It has a surprise, a little twist to it as well.
Q: You and Joss did a really good job developing Banner for the first movie, but we haven’t really seen him much since then. When we come into this movie, did you guys have more places you wanted to go with him? Do you already know from the last movie that you had more that you wanted to develop with him?
Ruffalo: Yeah, I think he’s trying to become more a part of a group. I don’t think he’s ever felt like part of a family or part of something. He’s always sort of been this outsider on the run or trying to shun humanity. But now I feel like he has the idea that maybe he is part of something and he’s trying to really be a part of something and feels more comfortable I think with the fantasy that he could actually be a part of something. But I still think it’s a struggle for him and I never think that he quite has it under control. I think in this version he’s as close to having a normal life as he possibly could, which might include…some romance. But you know, is that ever possible for Banner is really the question.
Q: Cap, Thor and Iron Man had their own movies to develop their characters. Is that harder because you have to do a lot of that in a movie as big as this one?
Ruffalo: Well I think the mythology of Banner is just kind of known because of the other movies. We’re sort of building off of them, but it’s similar. He’s on the run. He’s doesn’t wanna turn into the Hulk. All people want him to do is to turn into the Hulk. (laughter) It’s not as uphill a battle as introducing a completely new character. You know, the nature of these movies is there’s eight of us and I kinda worked it out. It’s 10 minutes of screen time for each of us, and then if we include the bad guys. So it’s hard to really to do a lot of character development in it, but I think this movie goes even more into that than the last one for everybody. So you’re sort of playing catch-up, but also I think you wanna be ambiguous enough not to cover too much ground so that you have somewhere to go if they ever do wanna do another stand-alone.
Q: We’ve heard that Andy Serkis was somehow involved in the early stages of this one, which is fascinating as performance capture gets more and more advanced each year. What’s that process been like for you? And how much more of you is there in the Hulk?
Ruffalo: So we’ve done a lot more with the motion capture and because the face capture and the motion capture can now be put together, you just got a lot more latitude as a performer. Andy’s been working on this new frontier of taking motion capture, and instead of it just being a placeholder–the actor basically being a place holder for CGI–that it becomes more of a collaboration and that the actor really can add performance to it. The last one we were trying to do that, but it was difficult. Now the technology has taken another step forward. Andy has created a kind of space and this new attitude towards motion capture that kind of honors the actor a bit more than it was in the past. Not that there was dishonor. It’s just the organic process of making those two things work really well together in the context of a production of a movie that has a first unit going and a lot of importance is put on the first unit, but now they’re startin’ to look at motion capture in an equal sort of way. That’s what Andy’s after, that’s what I’m after. And so I see the motion capture as this incredible new place for us to go in performance that we never had before that’s more like kind of a puppeteering. You no longer are constricted by the attributes that you have as a person – your age or weight or size. None of that matters anymore. And so there’s this whole exciting place to go that is kind of unknown.
Q: It must almost feel like going back to your theatre origins.
Ruffalo: It’s very much like theater because it’s all imagination. You don’t have a forest in front of you in the theater. You don’t have a castle, but you have to put that there for yourself. And so whatever theater training I had is very, very much in tune with this oddly enough. The oldest form of acting all of a sudden meets the newest form of acting. And they’re very compatible to each other. But it’s very exciting. Andy has really done a lot to make it so the actor’s driving it.
Q: One of the things they we were talking about yesterday was Scarlet Witch sort of being able to call out the demons of the Avengers, so is she just able to call up the Hulk and control him?
Ruffalo: That’s a bad trip. She’s able to bring out the worst in us (laughter) and there are people in our lives who can do that. And somehow when you’re an actor you tend to gravitate towards those people, but it’s like Sid and Nancy. She’s the Nancy. She’s everyone’s Nancy. (laughter)
Q: Of all these new characters that are in this movie is there someone that excites you the most that you really think is cool and that audiences will really freak out about?
Ruffalo: I love the new kids on the block. I love Wanda and Pietro, Quicksilver. They’re cool. They’re really cool new characters. The Vision is the Vision. He is so dope. He’s my baby. Yeah, he’s pretty incredible. The idea of him and where he comes from and he’s very independent. It’s a really great character. Yeah people are gonna’ love the Vision, and Ultron’s amazing. He’s amazing. It’s really good.
Q: How much one-one-one time did you have with Spader?
Ruffalo: We have a lot of scenes together as a group. I have a couple of one-on-one things with him, but I love him. He’s great. And it’s like King Lear, it’s great.
Q: Do you enjoy watching Paul Bettany get tortured as much as Robert seems to?
Ruffalo: All I know is I’m happy that I walk in and I leave the trailer and I can go back an hour later and Paul Bettany’s still in make-up. (laughter) And I’m 46 years old. That makes me feel good. Sorry, Paul. But you should see him. He’s like a specimen when he walks onto that thing, and he’s like the perfect man. He’s the Vision.
Q: I’m curious about this cool little house party that goes on in this movie. Are you as the Hulk or as Banner?
Ruffalo: Banner. Mostly indoors I have to be Banner. That’s kind of the rule. It’s like leave your shoes at the door. It’s like leave your Hulk at the door. Hulk still has a little bit of ADHD kid thing going on. (laughters)
Q: How much dialogue might Hulk have in the film? ‘Cause in the first movie he has two amazing lines. “I’m always angry” and “Puny God.” Does he have anything like that in the sequel? Any one-liners?
Ruffalo: We’re sorta still working that out. He will. We’re just kind of trying to figure out… there’s a couple of different places to do it. He’s not gonna have a soliloquy, not yet anyway. But Joss has a couple ideas where to put them.
Q: Has he told you the lines yet?
Ruffalo: No. That’s the thing. I kinda now where we’re headed with it, but he hasn’t given me the line yet.
Q: Talking with Joss Whedon yesterday he told us one of the dominant themes in the film is the idea of being destroyed by power. Obviously there is a lot of power that exists in Bruce Banner. I’m curious how you see the theme kind of affecting the film overall and specifically towards Bruce.
Ruffalo: I mean the essential struggle that he’s having, throughout his life probably, but specifically in this, is that he does have that destructive side of him. That’s not gonna ever go away and you could live a little fantasy that that might be under control, but ultimately that might just be a fantasy for him. That conflict is always gonna be there–there might never be a resolve to that, because that power is really destructive.
Q: Is he still constantly searching for that solution?
Ruffalo: Yeah I don’t know. I don’t know. He wishes he could find it, there’s no doubt about that, but also you get to be a certain age and you have to start to practice radical acceptance or you just keep banging your head up against the same wall. And I think he’s starting to get to that place where he’s like, “Okay, how do I live with this? How do I make it work for me?” It’s like management. It’s like having a slipped disc. (laughter)
Q: I was curious about that. We saw a lot of labs and I imagine there are a lot of labs there, so I’d think that curing the Hulk would be a number one priority but then you lose the Hulk from the team, so it’s kind of weird.
Ruffalo: No, Tony’s mantra is like, “Embrace it, dude.”
Q: ‘Cause the Hulk is useful to the team.
Ruffalo: Yeah, yeah. Yes, in little doses, so he’s like a nuclear bomb. It’s tough to get very tactical with it. I think it’s a matter of management and control really at this point, rather than just like shutting him down completely. Plus the weird thing about the Banner/Hulk relationship is the more work they do into it, the more he turns into the Hulk, the more established the Hulk becomes in his identity. So you have these two identities that really wanna dominate the other, and so, it’s not getting easier to refer one or the other to be the dominant driver.
Q: Can they co-exist?
Ruffalo: I don’t know, it’s tough, but they’re gonna have to work it out, because you know, there’s serious tension there and it’s only growing.
Avengers: Age of Ultron opens May 1, 2015. Look for lots more interviews and stuff from ComingSoon.net/SuperHeroHype’s set visit before then.