Mark RuffaloAfter a stellar turn in Martin Scorsese's 'Shutter Island,' one of his biggest box-office hits to date, Mark Ruffalo returns to the world of indie in 'The Kids are All Right,' a touching and often hilarious family comedy co-starring Annette Bening and Julianne Moore.

In the movie, Ruffalo plays Paul, a fortysomething bachelor who anonymously donated sperm back in the day. It turns out his sperm was used twice by a lesbian couple (Bening and Moore), and on the heels of college, their 18-year-old daughter (Mia Wasikowska), with the help of her brother (Josh Hutcherson), secretly decide to contact Paul to see what he's really like. As Paul develops relationships with the family, including one with Moore's character, they each must determine how much they really want him in their lives.

In preparation for the movie (in theaters Friday), Ruffalo spoke to Moviefone about its universal themes, filming sex scenes with Julianne Moore and whether 'Margaret,' Kenneth Lonergan's much-delayed and long-awaited follow-up to 'You Can Count on Me,' will ever get a release date. Mark RuffaloAfter a stellar turn in Martin Scorsese's 'Shutter Island,' one of his biggest box-office hits to date, Mark Ruffalo returns to the world of indie in 'The Kids are All Right,' a touching and often hilarious family comedy co-starring Annette Bening and Julianne Moore.

In the movie, Ruffalo plays Paul, a fortysomething bachelor who anonymously donated sperm back in the day. It turns out his sperm was used twice by a lesbian couple (Bening and Moore), and on the heels of college, their 18-year-old daughter (Mia Wasikowska), with the help of her brother (Josh Hutcherson), secretly decide to contact Paul to see what he's really like. As Paul develops relationships with the family, including one with Moore's character, they each must determine how much they really want him in their lives.

In preparation for the movie (in theaters Friday), Ruffalo spoke to Moviefone about its universal themes, filming sex scenes with Julianne Moore and whether 'Margaret,' Kenneth Lonergan's much-delayed and long-awaited follow-up to 'You Can Count on Me,' will ever get a release date.

So I saw Paul as a slightly older version of Terry from 'You Can Count on Me.'

[Laughs] I could see why people would think that. There is something kind of similar about the way they live their lives, I think.

'You Can Count on Me' celebrates its 10-year anniversary in November. Does it feel like it's been that long since it came out?
No! [Laughs] God, has it been that long? ... No, it doesn't feel like it's been that long. It's interesting, though, it has been 10 years. Am I that old?

How far do you think you've come as an actor since its release?
I think I've learned a lot in those 10 years. I worked with a lot of different people. I got to do a lot of different parts. I got to play way far away from that guy, which was a concern for me, at the time. Obviously, I've gotten to work with some really, really great directors and actors, so I would like to think that I've come a long way since then.

Do you keep in contact with Kenneth Lonergan?

Oh, yeah. I just talked to him yesterday.

I know you get this question a lot, but is 'Margaret' ever going to get released?
I think it will be. There's been some wrangling around the length. That's really been the issue. They let him shoot a 168-page draft of that movie. His writing is such a tapestry. It's a house of cards. If you pull out one element, the whole thing seems to fall. And that's been the problem with the editing of it. But Marty Scorsese's coming in to kind of arbitrate this final cut, so if he puts his stamp on it, we should be seeing this movie sometime soon.


'The Kids are All Right' has an unconventional premise, but I feel like any family can relate to its story.
It's one of the things I really responded to it about it. There is definitely the novelty of the lesbian marriage and the teenage kids who want to find their sperm donor dad. That's a great way into what could be an interesting movie. But quickly, I think it transcends that construct, and it really just becomes a family, and it feels very familiar to people, gay or straight. And I think that's remarkable in some regards, and I think it keeps it out out of the politics, which are really divisive, and brings us into what really good filmmaking can do, is really the common experience of being human, or having a family. I've seen it with a couple different audiences, and they're laughing heartily, and it's not because it's a big jokey movie. It's really the laughter of familiarity. They're seeing their long relationship, or they're seeing their teenage kids, or they were that teenager. The fact that Paul's on the scene is just a modern element to something that's really basic.

Paul didn't get a chance to redeem himself at the end. Do you think he deserved another shot?
I mean, I don't know. I could definitely see why Nic [Bening] could be really angry at him. [Laughs] ... I think there definitely was a boundary that was broken, and I definitely relate to the way Nic responds to it. It was a terrible way to find it out. There's so much going on there. But in a way, I also feel like he's a different person. I don't think he's really ever going to be out of those kids' lives. There's a really nice moment at the end of the movie where she takes the hat and she puts it in the car -- the hat he gave her. And I think that was a real subtle way for the filmmaker to say it's changed, it isn't the way it was. Maybe it's become a more mature relationship, but this man is gonna be in at least Joanie's life.

Mark RuffaloOne of my favorite parts of the movie was your sex scenes with Julianne Moore, which were hilarious to watch. Were they as funny to film?
[Laughs] It's always awkward to shoot those, but it does add a nice element if you know that you're going for comedy, if you know that you want to tell a story that has a comedic kind of truthfulness to; and the fact that I've known Julie for three years now, and she's my wife, and my wife trusts her [Laughs] ... It really takes a lot of that gnawing voice in the back of my head, saying, "God, when my wife sees this, I'm dead!" [Laughs] It made it easier and more relaxed, and because of that, comedy really needs I think a relaxed environment to feel spontaneous. And so, yeah. They were awkward, but at the same time, they weren't as awkward as real, heavy sex scenes.

You've been in a lot of big-budget movies recently, including this year's 'Shutter Island.' Was it nice to act in an indie again?
Yeah. I like this kind of filmmaking. I like how fast it is. The energy really stays concentrated. There's a communal bond that has to happen on every level, between the crew, and the actors and the director, and I like that. It's nice that there's a budget. It forces you to work in a way that's economical. You really need to work by your wits. I think it's really good practice for an actor, to go back to that. They're usually character-driven movies. You get to act a lot in them. They can't be too formalized, usually, because there's not enough time and money. Which also is a really nice environment for an actor, I think. I think it's a really sustainable way of making great stories, and I think really, today, the real word for us everywhere is it sustainable? Is it a way that we can do it that makes sense, and that we can continue doing? The Independent world's in a real flux right now. It's in an upheaval. People are talking, is there independent cinema left? I can't help but believe that there's no way it can go away, and I'm hoping that this movie is successful in the way that these movies can be to prove that you don't need $150 million to touch people, or get them into an audience, and to tell a story.

Speaking of indies, you had a lot of success at Sundance this year with your directorial debut, 'Sympathy for Delicious.' Do you know when it's going to hit theaters?
No. One of the things that happened in the last five years is we lost a good 20 of the little distribution companies that put indies out. So there's a real shortfall of distribution companies, and a glut of indie movies. [Laughs] And so, I'm in the process of still trying to sell that. I do have a couple prospects that we're talking about right now, but I don't know exactly when it's coming out. We're sort of shooting for the fall of this year.

Do you plan to direct more movies in the future?
I would love to. I loved it. It came really natural to me. It was very satisfying. Honestly, by the end of that experience, I was like, "Ok, that's it for me as an actor. I'm either not going to go back to acting, or I'm going to take many years off from it." And I took a year off, and realized that I really do love acting, and I probably can't live without her [sic]. But I really want to continue a directing career if anyone will let me.

Mark RuffaloI wanted to end this interview with two fan questions. First, 'Zodiac' is one of my favorite movies that you've done, and I felt like it slipped under the radar when it was released in 2007. Did you feel the same way?
Totally. I really think that that's probably one of the best things I've done, and overall, one of the best things I've been in. It's such fine filmmaking, and it's so nuanced. I think part of the reason it did pass by is because it is so fine, it is so seamless. It's a real disappointment that [that happened]. I have more people coming up to me, though, and talking about that movie than I do anything else I've done in the past five years ... It's too bad that that movie didn't get what it deserved when it came out.

And you also did a couple of romantic comedies after you hit big -- '13 Going on 30' and 'Just Like Heaven' -- but haven't done any recently. Have you sworn off that genre forever?
No. In a way, I thought this was kind of a romantic comedy. [Laughs] I would do them, totally. But if they're romantic and comedic. Rarely are they ever [both]. I like to do one that's really smart and funny, and the two I did were really smart and funny. It's just that that's rare. I like doing the comedic turn. This was a joy to do this movie, so I would like to keep on this track for a little while.