Mark Ruffalo revealed that the studio didn’t want him for Zodiac but the movie led him to much larger — and green — roles.
The San Francisco-based Dave Toschi was a vital figure in one of the most high-profile criminal cases in U.S. history: the hunt for the Zodiac Killer. His methods and demeanor also served as inspiration for Steve McQueen’s titular Bullitt and Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry. But when it came to bringing the man himself to the big screen, who better than Mark Ruffalo? As it turned out, the studio didn’t care if Ruffalo signed on for Zodiac or not.
Speaking with highsnobiety, Mark Ruffalo said that his offer for Zodiac was a take it or leave it one, which is no surprise given the actor had more indie cred than studio push. “Studios, they weren’t coming to me in that way. I’ll never forget when they were negotiating my deal [for Zodiac], the studio negotiator literally said to my manager, “Look, we don’t give a shit about Mark Ruffalo, we don’t even want Mark Ruffalo in this movie, so you’re going to take what we’re offering you or forget it.”
Zodiac was undoubtedly one of Mark Ruffalo’s more high-profile roles up to that point outside of 13 Going on 30 and marked a major shift for him, soon enough landing roles for Rian Johnson, Spike Jonze and Martin Scorsese. And then came Marvel, which he still had a hard time believing wanted him for Bruce Banner. “The fact that Joss Whedon came to me for the Hulk was so out of the blue. It’s a tough part – how do you get away with playing a character that doesn’t want to do what everybody wants him to do and sustain that? It’s like a trap. I read it and I was like, “I can do something with this.”” And do something he did, serving as a key member of The Avengers across some of the highest-grossing movies in the MCU.
Dave Toschi passed away in 2018, while Paul Avery – the San Francisco Chronicle reporter played by Ruffalo’s fellow MCU co-star Robert Downey Jr. – died in 2000. Robert Graysmith, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal, is still alive.
Where does Zodiac rank in your list of favorite Mark Ruffalo performances?