mark ruffalo's tragic past

dealing with depression

Mark Ruffalo has experienced episodes of depression since he was in high school. He was so down on himself that he lied to his friends and family about his ambitions to become an actor. After graduating, he felt lost and directionless.

the loss of a close friend

When Ruffalo was living in LA and taking classes, he formed a close bond with another student, Michael. The two became best friends, but Michael committed suicide. The tragedy sparked a new fire in Ruffalo, who decided that acting would be his own therapy.

physical health issues

Ruffalo had a dream that convinced him he had a brain tumor. An imaging test showed that he was correct, and although the tumor removal was a success, he lost hearing in one ear and some feeling in his face. This sidetracked his acting career. 

a painful recovery

After his surgery, Ruffalo was unable to work as an actor. He tried adjusting his character for "Signs" but his doctors advised him to stay home due to his compromised immune system. It took six months for him to regain control of the paralyzed parts of his face.

chemical imbalances

Ruffalo's recovery took its toll on him. He gained 40 pounds after surgery and lost his balance due to the combination of medications required for his aftercare. Walking several miles each day helped him regain his composure, along with acupuncture and massage.

rumors spreading

Only Ruffalo's closest friends and family knew about his condition. This led to a ton of rumors about his health, and people thought he had disappeared. Ruffalo was in no condition for visitors and insisted on keeping any details a secret.

Another tragic death

Ruffalo lost someone else very close to him in 2008. His brother, Scott, was shot in the head in a case that was eventually ruled a homicide. A key witness, Shaha Mishaal Adham, was questioned, but no charges were filed. Adham died in 2012, and the case is still open.

early retirement

After his brother died, Ruffalo took some time away from acting. He ditched his publicist and agent, moving to upstate New York with his wife and kids. He stayed off camera until the script for "The Kids Are All Right" inspired him to pay tribute to his brother.

conquering health issues

With all of his health problems, Ruffalo sought something that could help in all aspects of his life. Thanks to meditation, he was able to address his problems in a brand new way. He started meditation thanks to a friend who beat their addiction.

immersion in activism

While promoting the documentary "Gasland" and speaking about the dangers of fracking, Ruffalo found himself on Pennsylvania's Department of Homeland Security. The sensationalism in the media led to the resignation of PA's Homeland Security Director, James Powers.

escaping the family business

As a child, Ruffalo moved where his family's business took him. His father owned and lost several companies, including businesses in construction painting and soft drinks. Eventually, his father could only find temporary work before the family went bankrupt.

difficulties in youth

Ruffalo was not diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia as a child, but those may have contributed to the trouble he had in school. After partnering with the Child Mind Institute, he moved his family to New York City to include his own kids in programs for dyslexic students.

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mark ruffalo's tragic past