Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Reel Thoughts Interview: Mark Ruffalo & Josh Hutcherson, Boys on the Side

“People really like the film,” actor Mark Ruffalo said regarding The Kids Are All Right. “Beats the hell out of pushing a stinker up the hill, which I’ve had to do.” Ruffalo, who also starred in Martin Scorcese’s Shutter Island this year, plays Paul, the freewheeling restaurant owner who discovers that he’s a sperm donor dad eighteen years later. His is the most difficult role, since he becomes an interloper into the seemingly happy home of Nic and Jules (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore), and his fate is far from certain thereafter.

Ruffalo loves Paul’s journey. “He’s someone who lives his life completely by his own rules and is very comfortable with himself and most of his life is set up for his own pleasure. And then, he just comes apart at the seams from this interaction he has with this family. I think he realizes that life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be without someone to share it with.”

The handsome star joked that he wished he had been a donor back in the day. “At $60.00 a pop, I could have used the money. I wasted a lot of talent back then,” he laughed.

At seventeen, Josh Hutcherson already has a couple of solid hits under his belt (The Bridge to Terabithia, Journey to the Center of the Earth), but the best is yet to come. He plays the C. Thomas Howell character in the Red Dawn remake and is set to take over the lead duties in the Journey sequel (Brendan Fraser is not returning). The Kentucky native seems to have a level head about his rising success, and was especially excited to work on The Kids Are All Right.

“The script was incredible,” he explained, adding that he had a real connection with Lisa Cholodenko, the writer/director. “It was so real and so natural I thought their relationships and the dynamic between the characters was something that I had never seen before in a script.”

Despite the spacey name, Hutcherson loved the character of Laser. “He was such a real kid. As a teenager, he's at the point in his life where he's trying to figure out who he is and how he fits in to the world, and who are his friends. And, what his relationship is to his family. Being a teenager myself I can definitely relate to that.”

Hutcherson also didn’t care that the parents were same-sex. “This is Laser's family. I don't think that 'family' is necessarily defined by a mom and a dad. I think it can be whoever is around you who loves you and is there for you and cares for you and raises you. I think that Laser's parents have done a really good job of raising him. For me, there wasn't any extra preparing because they were a same-sex couple. One of the really cool things about the story is that it wasn’t focusing on the fact they were a same-sex couple but that it was really a story about a family.”

It is Laser who pushes his sister (played by Mia Wasikowska) to contact their donor father, and Hutcherson understands why. “I think it's something that Laser's been thinking about for a while just out of curiosity and wants to know what that's like, to have a dad around. I don't think he necessarily needs to have a father figure but I think he wants a guy he can hang out with; a lot of people in life, not just with lesbian families, don't have fathers and they have that yearning to know what that's like.”

Of course, when Laser first meets Paul, “He has this idea of what he's going to be like in his head and when he sees he's kind of this free spirited, kind of Los Feliz/Silverlake guy, it's not exactly what Laser was expecting.”

And what mothers! Hutcherson admitted that before he met Moore and Bening, he was a little nervous and intimidated. “I thought, “How am I going to act compared to these guys, and even Mia and Mark are both insanely good actors. And then when I met them, they were all so down to earth, such real people. And Julianne and Annette, they're moms, and so for me to pretend they were my moms, was not hard at all.”

UPDATE: The Kids Are All Right is now available on DVD and Blu-ray from

Interview by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

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