Mark Ruffallo Talks 13 Going on 30

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Mark Ruffalo stars opposite Jennifer Garner in the new comedy, 13 Going on 30. Ruffalo, who plays Garner’s childhood friend and love interest, says it was a nice departure being the “it” guy. “It was fun. I tried not to think too much about having to be the ‘it’ guy. I like to change things up. I come from the theater, so I’ve gotten to be able to work in a lot of different genres, so it’s always fun to kind of pop back and forth between different styles and such.”

He says it wasn’t hard to get in touch with his inner 13-year-old. “I’m pretty much a goofy guy and Jennifer’s kind of a goofy girl. She’s pretty fun and easygoing. So it wasn’t too hard to play off that energy. She does it so well so it’s pretty easy to do.” Ruffalo had to think twice before being too rough with Jennifer though. “There’s been many times when I’ve wanted to put her in a headlock and I just thought, ‘maybe I shouldn’t do that because she might kick my *ss’. At first, we were going to do a table reading and I was expecting a girl to walk in wearing a leather bustier and some spikes and stuff and chopsticks in her hair and something. And in walks this girl in a ponytail and no makeup and sweatpants, with a big huge smile on her face. I was like, ‘God, who’s that girl? Oh, it’s Jennifer Garner.’ She’s so much not like she is in ‘Alias’ that you quickly forget that she can kick your *ss.”

Mark had to reenact the “Thriller” video with Jennifer in the film. “Eecccccck! I went kicking and screaming into that, when she was dragging me out, she was literally dragging me out there. We did a lot of rehearsal and I had a dancing coach. I did not wanna do that bit. I’ve never liked dancing. I don’t think I do it well. I was watching and I was going, ‘Oh my God! I look like a stiff up there.’ It ended up being fun. But watching, I don’t think I could’ve gotten lower in my chair. I could barely see over the chair in front of me.”

He says that director Gary Winick felt the same way about the scene. “We both come from a pretty edgy, independent world. A lot of the stuff that we’ve done in the past. From the very beginning, we were both like, oh, a romantic comedy – these things can be so just saccharine and manipulative. It’s not my favorite genre and I know it’s not his. But the fact that he was doing it, I knew there was going to be something different about it and he would keep it honest. But we were always talking about the cringe factor, just let’s try to keep away from being sentimental, but still make the genre. It’s a mistake trying to go into the genre and then subvert it completely. I’ve been part of that and that kind of blows up in your face. But we were always trying to keep things as real as possible. It was in the discussion constantly.”

13 Going on 30 may turn Ruffalo into a sex symbol. “That’ll be the next thing I’ll try to escape from being. I’m not too attached to that kind of stuff, really. I saw that screening and I’ve never had this before, I never had like girls be like, ‘Oh my God!’ I was looking around like, ‘Is Brad Pitt around?’ I don’t know, that’s a little scary to me. But I like girls running up and saying great things. You can’t pick your nose anymore in your car or anything.” The makeup and hair people will have difficulty keeping him looking perfect though. “It’s not my favorite part of the job. Many times people will see me rubbing it off as I’m walking away from the makeup trailer. My hair is kind of impossible. It kind of does what it wants. The more they try to do something with it, the more it rebels against them. I don’t like to have it cut off, but it depends on the part really.”

While only Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa are receiving credit for the screenplay, Ruffalo says a lot of the script was Niels Meuller. “There’s been an arbitration and Niels’ name has been taken off the script. I read both the drafts and this man – some of the greater parts, the emotional bottom, which I think makes the comedy work all that much better, was his contribution. I don’t know how they arbitrate these things. I’m sure it’s all fair and good, but it is worth noting that he did write a significant part of this movie and I think it’s fair for people to know – because his name has been taken off of the project.”

Ruffalo says he’s been developing a script for four years that he wants to direct. “That looks like it’s starting to come together and maybe that’ll be the next thing I’m working on, in the fall.” He says it’s called Sympathy for Delicious. “Nicolas Cage is attached to it. The basic log line, it’s about a guy who’s a paraplegic and really selfish. Basically an S.O.B. He gets the gift to heal but he can’t heal himself. So he takes a gift to start healapalooza. He uses his gift to get sex, drugs and rock and roll. It’s kind of a satire of pop culture and it looks like we’ll be shooting it in November.”

13 Going on 30 opens in theaters this Friday.