Bipo­lar role not a stretch for Ruf­falo

Mark Ruf­falo ex­plores bipo­lar fa­ther­hood with in­die “In­fin­itely Po­lar Bear.”

Metro USA (Boston) - - FRONT PAGE - NED EHRBAR @Nedrick ned.ehrbar@metro.us

Delv­ing into a char­ac­ter with men­tal ill­ness can be a tricky busi­ness, but Mark Ruf­falo had a unique av­enue of re­search for his latest, “In­fin­itely Po­lar Bear.” First-time writer-di­rec­tor Maya Forbes hired Ruf­falo to pretty much play her late fa­ther.

The in­die calls on Ruf­falo to por­tray Cam Stu­art, strug­gling to raise his two daugh­ters in 1970s Bos­ton while his wife (fel­low Marvel sta­ble- mate Zoe Sal­dana) heads to grad­u­ate school in New York, and his manic de­pres­sion wreaks havoc on ev­ery­day life.

“I have bipo­lar fam­ily mem­bers, so it wasn’t to­tally out of left field,” Ruf­falo says. “Then I met Maya and started hear­ing the sto­ries about Cam and watch­ing his Su­per 8 movies. It just felt like, ‘OK, I think I know the way into this.’ It feels right to me, and it’s not a glossed-over, gilded ver­sion that as I get into do­ing re­search about, I’m go­ing to find some to­tally dif­fer­ent per­son, and then there’s go­ing to be some con­flict be­tween me and Maya about that.”

In fact, con­flict with Forbes was hap­pily min­i­mal. Ruf­falo found her to be in­cred­i­bly col­lab­o­ra­tive, some­thing he holds in high re­gard. “I’d have my mo­ments of re­bel­lion, as any ac­tor should at some point or another, but never felt like our views of it were di­ver­gent,” he says. “All the great di­rec­tors that I’ve worked with are able to take col­lab­o­ra­tion with­out be­ing threat­ened by it. But it’s atyp­i­cal to first-time di­rec­tors, that open­ness, to have that kind of strong vi­sion that you’re con­fi­dent to take col­lab­o­ra­tion from ev­ery­body.”

For Ruf­falo, although the film puts Cam’s bipo­lar dis­or­der front and cen­ter, it was im­por­tant that it didn’t to­tally de­fine the char­ac­ter. “If you have a guy who’s an a—hole who’s in a wheel­chair, he’s still an a—hole. And if you have a re­ally nice per­son in a wheel­chair, they’re still a re­ally nice per­son,” Ruf­falo says. “Yes, who they are is in­formed by hav­ing to live in that wheel­chair, but to some de­gree, who that per­son is is es­sen­tially who they are, and bipo­lar is some­thing that swings in and out of their life. So for me, the re­ally im­por­tant thing was get­ting the specifics of Cam, who Cam was. Cam was this per­son who had a lot of re­ally in­ter­est­ing qual­i­ties about him and would’ve been a re­ally in­ter­est­ing per­son with­out be­ing bipo­lar. That was the im­ped­i­ment that the fam­ily had to deal with.”

/ SONY PIC­TURES CLAS­SICS

Mark Ruf­falo, Imo­gene Wolo­darsky and Ash­ley Aufder­heide in “In­fin­itely Po­lar Bear.”

GETTY IM­AGES

RUF­FALO

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