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The Tragic Real-Life Story Of Mark Ruffalo | Full Bio

 Mark Ruffalo has earned a reputation as oneof Hollywood's genuine good guys. The Wisconsin-native is as humble a movie star as you're likelyto meet, but life hasn't always been as kind to him as he is to others. In fact, giveneverything he's been through, it's a wonder that he isn't a total jerk. Today, the affableAvenger is enjoying the heights of his fruitful career, but before he played the Hulk in Hollywood'sbiggest franchise, he had to first experience the lowest of lows. From crippling povertyand illness to several brushes with death, this is the tragic - but ultimately triumphant- real-life story of Mark Ruffalo. When he sat down for an interview with Men's Journal, the former C-student toldthem that he believes he suffered from undiagnosed dyslexia for years, but he dug in and finishedhigh school anyway. 

After graduation, his family uprooted and moved to what the profiledescribed as a "seedy beach community" in San Diego - and things didn't exactly workout with that move, either. He explained: "Within six months, we went from normal tobankrupt and eliminated as a family." His dad, Frank, packed his bags and movedback to Wisconsin, leaving his four kids and wife Marie behind. Ruffalo had excelled asa wrestler in school, but despite being told that he had a shot at a scholarship, he decidedto pursue a career as an actor instead. He moved into a $600-a-month apartment with twofriends and his kid brother Scott. Ruffalo recalled of that era: "He'd make a f***inggiant bowl of tuna pasta, and we'd eat off that all week long. The best of times, theworst of times." He battled real-life anger issues At first glance, Mark Ruffalo wouldn't appearto be a natural fit for the part part of the ever-agitated Hulk. 

Nick Fury actor SamuelL. Jackson called him a "cuddly little bear" and revealed that "everyone loves huggingon Mark" on the set of the Marvel movies. But, believe it or not, he used to be a lotmore like his big green alter-ego. I'm always angry." Ruffalo told the New York Daily News: "Youshould have seen me in my 20s, man. I was the poster definition of an angry young manwith a persecution complex … I was struggling as a young actor, suffering through imaginedor real slights from other people's hands. So it wasn't too hard to revisit those places." Ruffalo spent so long dealing with professionalrejection that he started to bring his anger home with him. Glasses that had been thrown through, coffee mugs,books, whatever I could get a hold of." He suffered from anxiety The three-time Academy Award nominee toldRolling Stone in 2015 that he eventually reached a point where he was struggling to sleep becausehis brain wouldn't "shut off" at night. 

Luckily, an old friend recommended that he try meditation,and it changed his life. Ruffalo told Rolling Stone: "I had a friendwho had been a longtime drug addict. He did the [meditation] program, and we hooked upagain after a couple years … He had been the angriest man in the world, and he hadsuch a calm demeanor. I had never seen a human being change that much." The actor sought out his own meditation teacherto see if it would work for him in the same way, My work started to change, my luckstarted to change. The way the world looked to me changed." According to the actor, practicing meditationgave him, quote, an "enormous amount of hope" that everything was going to be okay. He had a brain tumor Ruffalo's big break came at the turn of themillennium when he was cast in the critically acclaimed drama You Can Count on Me, the successof which led to a role alongside the legendary Robert Redford in 2001's The Last Castle.

He told Men's Journal: "It was big-time. This is my wildest dream come true!'… And then I found outI had my brain tumor." "You have a mass behind your left ear thesize of a golf ball. And we don't know what it is yet." Ruffalo was informed that he had an acousticneuroma behind his left ear and would need surgery to have it removed as soon as possible. Surgeons informed him that there was an 80 percent chance he would lose his hearing,and a 20 percent chance his facial nerves would be permanently damaged. "Honestly, I thought I was gonna die." While the star came out of surgery alive andwell, it wasn't without its complications. Ruffalo told The Acoustic Neuroma Association: "My father told me that my heart had stoppedbriefly on the operating table, so that was scary to me." Thankfully, his heart started beating again,but despite the removal of the benign growth, his battle was just beginning. 

Half of his face was paralyzed When that ringing faded, Ruffalo realizedthat he'd lost all hearing in his left ear. Worse still … "I woke up after that, and my face was paralyzedand I couldn't close my eye." He told the Telegraph in 2011: "I was likethat for about 10 months and the likelihood of it ever getting better looked pretty remote.The chances of the nerves coming back diminish each month and month seven was pretty muchthe cut-off point. But finally the paralysis did start to go. In all, I disappeared fora year." In that time, Ruffalo kept quiet about whyhe'd dropped off the map, but that didn't stop people from guessing." Drugs, alcoholism, AIDS. Whatever the truth, I was damaged goods. Imean, no one is going to hire an actor with half a paralyzed face." Fortunately, his facial nerves eventuallyrecovered and he fought his way back into the spotlight. 

In 2011, he got his first Oscarnod for his performance in The Kids Are Alright. Did somebody take his brother's life? When paramedics arrived atthe 39-year-old hairdresser's Beverly Hills condo, they found him with a gunshot woundto the side of the head. He was rushed to the hospital and managed to hang onto lifefor a week, but, when it became clear that he wasn't going to recover, his life supportwas switched off, devastating his family. The two other people present at Scott's homethat night were arrested but told authorities that Scott inflicted the wound on himselfduring a game of Russian roulette. Ruffalo was set to star in Noah Baumbach'sGreenberg at the time, but he dropped out of the indie flick to grieve. Not for thefirst time in his career, losing a role because of a tragedy turned out to be a blessing indisguise, as when Ruffalo returned to the fold he gained a part in what would becomethe highest-grossing Hollywood franchise of all time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Hetold In New York, "My friends have a term, getting 'Ruffaloed.'"… "'Ruffaloed' is when you have what seems tobe bad luck that actually turns into good luck later." Not that he wouldn't change things if he could. He told Men's Journal: "You always wonder,'What could I have done differently?' But there's also the healthier part that says,'You integrate it, and you get on.' You never get over it, you just get used to it. Youget calloused, a little bit harder maybe, so be on guard for that. But take these tragicthings and turn them into something meaningful and worthy of the loss. Make it count. Fromhere on out, do the best you can to make it count." He was accused of terrorism… or was he? In 2010, the San Francisco Chronicle reportedthat Pennsylvania's Office of Homeland Security had placed the Oscar-nominated actor on theterror watch list after he publicly discussed his concerns over natural gas drilling inthe United States. "They're ready to drill ASAP. And that's thedrinking water of ten million people." Ruffalo was an ardent supporter of Gasland,a Sundance Special Jury Prize-winning fracking documentary. 

He helped organize screeningsof the film in an effort to raise awareness of fracking's potentially disastrous effectson the environment and those living near the drill sites. This apparently made him a threatto security, which he found "pretty f***ing funny" at first. As the story gained traction,however, he was forced to start taking it seriously. He sat down with The Telegraphto set the record straight, telling them it was all bogus: "Somehow this story came out about my beingon this terrorist list. Fox News picked it up and bundled it together with my brother'smurder to make it sound as ominous as possible. Then every news organization in the countryran it without bothering to check if it was true. It wasn't until The Washington Timesfinally nailed the story that it went away." As annoying as that must've been, at leastit brought a lot more coverage to Gasland, right? Talk about getting Ruffaloed.