He may now be known to fans as The Incredible Hulk after appearing alongside Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans in 2012’s The Avengers, but Mark Ruffalo nearly quit acting in his 20s.
“I must have auditioned 800 times without landing a part. I was tending bar at Chateau Marmont [in L.A.], and I’d see Johnny Depp and Nic Cage hanging around, hugely successful, while I was barely making a living,” shares the 46-year-old.
“I was becoming angry; I decided to quit at least four or five times in my 20s.” So what made the father-of-three stick with his craft?
“I met my wife,” he says of Sunrise Coigney. “I was living in a dump and didn’t even have a driver’s license or a credit card. She thought I was a mess, but she believed in me and kept encouraging me.”
Mark, who’s been married to the brunette beauty since 2000, adds, “I don’t know if I would have made it without her.”
Despite the actor’s professional success since then, he’s suffered his fair share of personal heartbreak.
In 2002, Mark underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor. “It was the worst experience of my life. I was so sure I was going to die that I recorded a video for my son [Keen] so he could know who his dad was,” shares the 13 Going on 30 star.
And in 2008, the Wisconsin-native’s brother Scott was shot and killed in Beverly Hills, which prompted Mark to move his family out of Hollywood and onto a farm in New York.
“I decided to spend time with my wife and our little children. I didn’t enjoy our life in Los Angeles,” he tells OK magazine.
“I just simplified everything so that I could do one movie a year and still be financially sound. It reminded me how simple a life we could have and still be very happy.”
Now living in NYC, Mark says the best part of his success is being able to provide for his family. “It’s a relief knowing I can give my wife and children a good life.”