For Mark Ruffalo, it's easy being green

Mark Ruffalo says his Oscar nomination gave him "a new worth" with the Hollywood crowd.
Mark Ruffalo says his Oscar nomination gave him "a new worth" with the Hollywood crowd. (Astrid Riekin For The Washington Post)

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 18, 2011; 8:21 PM

"Oh, it's totally a different set of questions" you get in Hollywood than the ones in Washington, he says, raking his fingers through that mess of floppy, boyish curliness. "One is, 'Who are you wearing?' And the other is, 'How are we going to save the planet?' "

Mark Ruffalo.

If ever there was incarnate evidence of the way women conflate nurturing and lust, it is Oscar-nominated Mark Ruffalo. The rumpledness. The feral way he ravaged Julianne Moore in "The Kids Are All Right." The sense that he is vaguely lost, not merely in the metaphorical sense but literally, as well - as today, when he suggests going "next door" for some food, then wanders outside before you can figure out which next door he means, and by the time you find him he is happily ordering a Greek salad and chili fries at Good Stuff Eatery, a locavore joint on Pennsylvania Avenue SE.

In short: He's cute as hell, but you know how this would play out - it's supposed to be one night of fun, and three years later he's still sitting on your couch and somehow you're paying for his dental insurance. But for now, we're just eating our salads.

Mark. You spent the morning meeting with congressmen on Capitol Hill. What issues were you discussing?

"Fracking."

Hee hee hee hee hee.

"Hydraulic fracking." He's talking about the controversial and potentially polluting natural gas extraction process by which tons of water are infused with chemicals. "They blast the mixture underground at such high levels that it fractures the bedrock, which allows the natural gas to escape."

Oh.

This is the new Ruffalo, the activist dad who several years ago abandoned the Manhattan/Hollywood celebribubble in favor of a farm in Upstate New York's Catskill Mountains. "I know all my neighbors. It's beautiful and healthy, and in the winter there are blankets of snow covering the rolling hills," he says. "But I'm raising three kids up there, primarily because it's supposed to be so clean, and all of a sudden I'm in the middle of a public health fight."

He first learned about the fracking debate at his local farmers market, where he goes to buy the things that he and his wife, Sunrise Coigney, don't grow in their own garden. (But they grow almost everything. They are those people. Asked to identify anything in his salad he could have harvested himself, he lists everything but the cheese.)

That initiation was two years ago. Since then, he's become the Natural Resource Defense Council's most recognizeable face, lobbying the state government in Albany to ban the practice in New York, and now working at the national level. Tonight he'll meet up with documentarian Josh Fox for a special screening of Fox's fracking documentary, "Gasland." It has been nominated for an Oscar.


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