Actor Mark Ruffalo will be starring as Bruce Banner in the upcoming film The Avengers and makes his directorial debut with Sympathy for Delicious, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Special Jury Prize. In his song choices he blurs the line between inspiration and love with songs from Elliott Smith, and Radiohead. He also chooses Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" as the ideal anthem to one of his favorite places, New York City. Sympathy For Delicious will be released in New York, LA and DC on April 29th and will be available on video-on-demand as of May 6th.
Liza Richardson: Hi, I’m Liza Richardson from KCRW and I’m here with actor Mark Ruffalo. He will be starring as Bruce Banner in the upcoming film The Avengers. He also makes his directorial debut with Sympathy For Delicious, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Special Jury Prize. Today we are going to be talking about songs that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Mark Ruffalo, welcome to KCRW.
Mark Ruffalo: Thank you Liza.
LR: What did you bring?
MR: Today we have “Kid A” from Radiohead. I thought that was a really seminal album for them. I really love this mixture of elctronica, and the strange little clicks and noises, and this robotic vocal quality. It had this real kind of melancholy to it. This sort of morph between human and cyborg that the album had, no one had really done that in rock-n-roll up until that point. I was directing a play at the time and I heard it and I thought this was the sort of music I wanted to use for the soundtrack of the play.
LR: So that’s “Kid A,” it’s by Radiohead. It’s the choice of our Guest DJ Mark Ruffalo. What’s next?
MR: A song called “Because Tonight” from The Besnard Lakes. You know I directed my debut film “Sympathy for Delicious,” and I was working one night and I was too sick. I had a terrible stomach flu and I was having a fever but I wanted to get some work done. So I set out to start listening to a lot of music I was looking for, for the movie. I wanted a live band to play. I knew that. I stumbled across The Besnard Lakes. They came to me in this fever dream and “Because Tonight” felt exactly like what I wanted music in a movie to be. It was just so cinematic. So I went to them and I asked them, I gave them a couple of scenes and said “I’m thinking about you guys to score my movie, if you’re inspired here are a couple of scenes, do you want to cut something to these?” And I was talking to a lot of really big composers at the time. I had a really great composer that wanted to do the movie. Then they sent the track, and it was just before we were supposed to have made up our minds. I heard it and thought “This is exactly what I wanted.” Based on this song, I had them score the movie.
LR: That’s The Besnard Lakes, it’s Mark Ruffalo’s choice here on KCRW. It’s the song “Because Tonight.” Tell us about your next choice.
MR: Next is Elliott Smith’s “Between the Bars.” I thought I wanted a little love in these mixes, as well as inspiration, because love is a great inspiration in story telling. Elliott Smith has been a big part of me as an actor and an artist. This song was a song that my wife turned me onto when we first started dating. This kiss between the bars that happens, sort of like people are in prisons of their past. That’s a really fertile place for storytelling, love unrequited or people trying to get together and there is so much in their way. I think this song captures that really beautifully, this longing to connect.
LR: That’s Elliott Smith, it’s called “Between the Bars” and it’s the choice of our Guest DJ Mark Ruffalo. So, okay, you’ve got two more. Counting down!
MR: Yep. Here we go!
LR: What’s next, Mark?
MR: Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side.” I am a great lover of New York City. And this is the anthem to New York City, I think.
LR: Yeah, good choice.
MR: It was a really cool time in New York City’s history. It has such a great, sort of gritty cast of characters. I think it captures a time in New York. It’s a New York I can only imagine. It does capture a certain cultural aspect. It has this kind of innocence in it. It was a New York I wanted to be in but it somehow passed me by.
LR: That’s Mark Ruffalo’s choice, it’s “Walk on the Wild Side” by Lou Reed. Good one. Excellent. Thumbs up. You’ve got one more Mark, what’s it gonna be?
MR: “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver. I love these guys. I discovered them in the winter living in upstate New York and it’s just so raw and simple with really poetic verses. It’s the story of it, how he sort of locked himself away in the woods in the winter in Wisconsin. Again, it’s the difficulties of love. How you fight for love and how you fight your partner for love. The title is just such a great title. I just keep seeing my kid’s skinny little legs, you know? The story, the melody, his phrasing is so beautiful. He really knows how to take his poetic lines and put them into music. He does something very special that way, with the way he phrases his poetry.
LR: What do you think “skinny” means in this context?
MR: I think he’d like a fatter love, you know? He’s after something.
LR: This is too lean; the love that he’s getting in the song is too lean.
MR: Yeah. He’s trying to explain why. In the end we move through all these different phases of love with people that we spend a long time with. Sometimes we’re skinny and sometimes we’re fat.
LR: So that was Bon Iver and it’s called “Skinny Love.” It’s the choice of our Guest DJ Mark Ruffalo. So thanks for coming Mark, we really appreciate it.
MR: Thanks Liza.
LR: For a complete track listing and to find these songs online go to kcrw.com/guestdjproject.