‘She-Hulk’: Mark Ruffalo on Stepping Back Into Hulk’s Big Shoes
“I feel blessed that it does feel fresh and that I have gotten to explore all these different kinds of versions of that character."
Mark Ruffalo has been playing Bruce Banner / Hulk for the better part of a decade now, but according to the creative team behind Marvel Studios’ She-Hulk he still shows up set excited and curious to find out what’s next.
“The amazing thing about Mark is that he approaches everything with fresh eyes,” Director Kat Coiro tells Marvel.com. “He really came in with such a deferential attitude and looking to us. And we all were like, but you're Mark Ruffalo and you know this character inside and out. I think it's what makes him the legend that he is, is that he approaches everything as if it's the first time.”
Star Tatiana Maslany echoes that same sentiment: “He comes to set every day with this openness and this curiosity and this sense of this sort of idea that he's never done it before and he's discovering it right now.”
As for what Ruffalo has to say about this himself, he’s just happy to still be involved and stepping into the motion-capture world of Hulk. “I feel blessed that it does feel fresh and that I have gotten to explore all these different kinds of versions of that character,” he says, reflecting on joining the world of She-Hulk. “I was excited to see, what's this going to be? And trying to be just open to it being anything, you know, and curious, fearless, and brave.”
When we first meet Bruce in She-Hulk, he’s regular human Bruce and droning on about how he created a new inhibitor to stop him from turning into Hulk and help his arm heal faster. But after a freak accident, and some of his Hulk blood gets into his cousin Jennifer, he transforms back into “Smart Hulk” and then it’s all the Hulk all the time as he teaches her how to be big and green, too.
Not only is Bruce showing Jen the Hulk ropes, but behind-the-scenes Ruffalo stepped in to help Maslany learn the motion capture for the character. Maslany explains it best: It’s like “two babies in mocap suits who got to roar at each other.”
“I've been doing the motion capture for so long and it can be so alienating,” Ruffalo continues. “It's its own sort of machine, that technology and I think it could be very easy to forget that there's an actor performing there. That was probably my biggest contribution to the production was my experience of actually working with motion capture all these years and being able to try to show how you really can be alive and free within this technology.”
As for advice he recalls giving Maslany, Ruffalo mentions that he stressed that she should take her time with everything and not rush through the movements or scenes.
“[I told her,] make sure that you are free to perform and don't let the technology sort of stand in the way of that. It can go as far out as you can imagine it going. I mean, that's the great thing about technology is it just it gives freedom to your imagination…just making sure that she knew that she could ask her what she needed and she could take the time she wanted. She could be as free as she could possibly feel like being.”
Ruffalo’s presence and wisdom about being a Hulk was certainly felt on set, in addition to the new layers he brought to the big, green guy. “There are so many little nuances in his performance,” Coiro says. “I think it's so fun also to peer into Hulk's more private side, seeing inside his closet and his pantry. I think it's going to be a huge thrill for audiences.”
Speaking of that private side — Bruce is in space?! In Episode 2, it’s revealed that Bruce is off to parts unknown with his own agenda, with Coiro explaining that, “the point of that [scene] was always to have people's jaw drop and tune into the next episode.”
Bruce in the ship was actually the first scene Ruffalo filmed for the series, with Coiro adding, “That's where you really feel the weirdness of creating a CGI world because it was Mark in the suit at a little fold-up table on a fold-out chair without even a proper camera shooting him. But he's so engaged and he knows the drill and he made the scene alive even in that circumstance, in a big box with fluorescent lights.”
And if you’re looking for an explanation as to what’s next for Bruce, you’re not getting it. “We don't explain it, because it's She-Hulk show,” head writer Jessica Gao adds with a laugh. But, she is willing to tease that as viewers, we’ve only ever seen “a little sliver of what he was up to” last time Bruce was in space.
Ruffalo himself is excited to see what’s next for Hulk, in space and back down on Earth, too.
This begins to tease out the possibilities of that, maybe one day exploring it more deeply. Like, how does he use the bathroom? How does he sleep in his bed? All of these fun things that we get to explore here. It is really interesting and intriguing to me and fun to do.”
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