Playing Jennifer Garner's childhood friend, Matt, in the romantic comedy 13 Going on 30, Ruffalo gets to have a good time as a guy who's dependable, earnest, and fun to be around. According to producer Susan Arnold, those qualities are found not only in the character of Matt, but also in the actor who plays him on screen.
INTERVIEW WITH MARK RUFFALO:
How hard was it to develop the idea that this girl comes back into your life and doesnt have any recollection of whats happened since she was 13?
It was impossible. Its so outrageous and they really didnt give me a lot to work with there writing-wise so hopefully, we get through it fast enough that we dont lose the audience. I was just keeping him in shock to we didnt have to go into it too much.
What did you and Jennifer Garner do to develop that?
We did a lot of rehearsals, which you dont get to do a lot in this type of movie. We were always talking, finding different ways to modulate it. The drug thing came out of a rehearsal. Some of that was improvised and so that was one way that we found to get into it, to make it kind of plausible.
Do you have an alternate path you wish youd taken when you were a teen?
I lit up a huge field on fire when I was a kid. I was throwing a lit match at my brother and missed him and hit the grass. It burnt down this marshland. I almost burned my neighbors house down.
You were a teen pyro?
(Laughing) Yeah.. No, but I was the pariah of the neighborhood. They wanted to crucify me, basically. But I felt really badly about it. I went and turned myself in, actually. This was in Wisconsin. I probably would have done that a little differently.
Are you still friends with anyone you knew at 13 or 14?
Yeah, a small handful of people. We moved away when I was 15. I started a whole new life. I see people in Wisconsin. I have a couple of friends still from Virginia Beach. My sister was living there so I see my friends, but we dont keep a tight correspondence.
Whats the meanest thing a girl ever did to you?
One girl looked at me.. I thought I was getting somewhere with her and she was just like, Youre a geek.
She actually said that?
Yeah. She didnt know shed said it. It was a thought that came over her and she just blurted it out. Then another time when I was a little bit older I was working with this girl and I had a crush on her. One night after work we were all hanging out and having drinks and stuff and shes like, Hey, you wanna come over? I was like, Oh yeah. Im following her. Were driving [in separate cars] and she keeps driving faster and faster and the next thing I know shes running red lights. I followed her for like 45 minutes. I dont know where the hell I am and she just left me. At some point I was like, Oh, this is a game. Shes testing me. Then I realized she was just ditching me. It was horrible and I was in the middle of nowhere. I guess I was about 18.
Did you ever play the Seven Minutes in Heaven blindfolded in a closet game like they do in this film?
Yeah, the equivalent. Hospital, doctor, spin the bottle, yeah, yeah. We did all that stuff. If I was in the closet with anybody, it was with mutual consent. You had your eyes open.
What did you think about Sean Marquette, the kid who plays your younger self in the film?
I didnt meet him until after. They shot [his part] after I did all my stuff. But, I got to see the movie the other night and I thought he did a great job. He really makes my job a lot easier for the later part of the film because you care about him. Hes a sweet kid.
Were you a nerd as a kid?
I was worse than [my character]. I mean, I didnt have his self-confidence. That character has a really great possession of himself [and] great self-confidence. He doesnt care that theyre making fun of him dancing. I really admire him. I didnt have that kind of self-confidence.