06/03/2013 08:25 am ET Updated Feb 22, 2014

Mark Ruffalo, 'Now You See Me' Star, On The Film's Twist Ending & The 99 Percent


Warning: "Now You See Me" spoilers ahead.

Mark Ruffalo and director Louis Leterrier have more in common than just "Now You See Me," which scored a surprise second-place finish at the box office over the weekend. The pair almost worked together in 2008, when Leterrier was directing "The Incredible Hulk" for Marvel.

"I actually wanted to cast Mark Ruffalo as Hulk and Marvel was like 'No, you should get Edward Norton because he's more famous,'" Leterrier told HuffPost Entertainment in a recent interview. "They were like, 'No, no, [Ruffalo] just does smart, intellectual movies.' Which makes sense, then and there in his career. But that's I how know him. We've stayed in touch and it's why he said 'absolutely' when I offered him the part in this one."

Well, not exactly. Ruffalo stars as Dylan Rhodes in "Now You See Me," an FBI agent who finds himself consistently one step behind a team of bank-robbing magicians called the Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco). It's a part Ruffalo wasn't sold on at first, at least until he found out his character's big secret: that Dylan is actually the Four Horsemen's surprise benefactor.

This film has a lot of twists and turns, especially with your character. When you finished reading the script, what did you think?
With this one, I read it and I kept wondering, "What is this guy doing? Is this the part they want for me? What's going on here?" I got to the end and then I thought it was a great part. What an interesting acting problem to try and work out. How to hold all that and have it feel, when you get to the end, that it's still a surprise. But, then, at the same, still feel like you're still in the same movie.

That seems very complicated, because if you aren't careful, the audience could catch on to what's happening too soon.
It's a big sleight-of-hand trick. You're always aware. In this scene, am I playing it enough? Some scenes you're being more Dylan, and then more the other Dylan. Trying to lay little things in for a second viewing and have someone be able to go back and say, "Ah, I see!" That becomes a fun little challenge of it.

This is a very pro-99 percent movie -- in essence, the Four Horseman rob from the rich and give to the poor. I know you've been active in the Occupy movement, so was that an added bonus to you?
That was kind of in it a little bit in the first draft. When I read it, Occupy hadn't really started yet. When we went into rewrites and rehearsals -- we had about a week of rewrites with Ed Solomon -- I had just gotten back from Zuccotti Park at that point and I was really pushing Ed to move that way. It didn't go quite as far as I thought it could have. There also really wasn't enough time to get into it, in a way. I was telling him, though, when this movie comes out that's going to be part of the zeitgeist. This is not going away and it's only going to build in the consciousness of our culture. So I think it lands really well right now and I think people have a lot of sympathetic feelings toward that movement. That aspect gives them a sort of moral high ground. So even though they're stealing, you're still allowed to root for them. There was one version where they were stealing the money for themselves and I was pushing to make them drop that.

Louis Leterrier directed the last version of The Hulk before you took over the character for "The Avengers." Did that come up at all?
Yeah, it did. We did talk about it. He wanted to know kind of what we were doing with the character and what the Hulk was like in "Avengers" and where it was headed.

Speaking of that: I know you're signed for "Avengers 2," but Robert Downey Jr. is not just yet. Do you anticipate him returning?
I don't know. We haven't talked about it, but I can't imagine him not coming back. But, you know how life is; I'd love to do it again with him somewhere or some time.

You're on the cover of Men's Health in June, and you mention bar tending at the Chateau Marmont in the 90s. When you got "You Can Count On Me" did you just know that it was going to be your big break?
That's one of my favorites, just because it was such a huge part of my life in getting started as an actor. Kenny [Lonergan] was making that movie -- I had just finished doing "This Is Our Youth" with him. I heard he was going to direct a movie even though he hadn't told me about it. He gave me the script and I read it and thought that I had to play the part. It wasn't me, but I knew exactly how to play it. I started to really push him to let me audition for it. He was already down the road with another actor though, but eventually, out of my friendship to him, he said, "OK, come in and audition, but I'm going to read with you and hold the camera." He just didn't think I looked like Laura Linney [who plays Ruffalo's onscreen sister in the film]. I said, "I don't care! I want to come in and I deserve a chance!" I went in and it was a very good audition. That movie is so moving to me. Those don't come around too often, obviously. You're lucky if you have one or two of them in a career.

'Now You See Me' Premiere