Mark Ruffalo Wades Into 'Dark Waters'
From the Mon Broadcast Center at KPCC This is the frame. I'm John Rabies sitting in for John Horn today with the debut of Dizzy Plus Apple. TV Plus we need help to navigate all the new shows. We get it then as actor and producer Mark Ruffalo combines environmental activism with art in the new film dark waters. I came up from Stella Adler She's hardly proved theaters. They were radical. They believe that theater could change the world and he used to a quote. George Bernard Shaw Five. She say you should have to pay to go to church and theatre should be free and ellen degeneres shows little. KPCC love all that coming up on the frame. Welcome to the frame. I'm John Rabi. In for John Horn and TV critic Daniel Feinberg is exhausted the debut of streaming platforms from Disney and apple on top of everything else. That's already out there and even more service is launching next year we called up Feinberg who writes for the Hollywood reporter to check in on the streaming wars. And what it means for Quality Television Disney plus us is trying to make itself so ubiquitous. That you can't avoid it. What Disney plus has is this remarkable library of content which is all the Disney vault vault movies all of the Pixar movies? All the star wars movies all marvel movies. I could keep going because there are six hundred episodes of the simpsons. So what they're trying to do is overwhelm you with the very idea that if you don't have Disney plus you simply are unable to watch everything you want to watch in the entire world. What is Apple? TV trying to do what Apple. TV TV is trying to do. Is something a good deal more boutique because unlike Disney plus they don't have that library where they can say okay. Here are seven hundred movies and seventy thousand hours of TV and all of that. What they're trying to do is saying we've curated? These five new shows the you absolutely positively need to watch but also you're probably GONNA buy a new apple product in the next twelve months anyway so we'll give it to you for free once you buy that new computer quote unquote free in your article. Your viewed Several of the Disney his knee shows. And I don't think you're exactly saying they're good. They sound more like formula. I would say that between Disney plus an apple TV. Plus I don't know that there is a quote unquote essential show on A. This is one of the ten best shows on TV level. On the other hand there are a bunch of shows does that are good on A. This is fun. This is reassuring this familiar on that level so Disney plus has the man delorean which is sometimes funded on and sometimes queued. And it's making some people excited. It's not a great TV show. But I think it's a TV show that gives people what they want. I think that Apple ATV plus has a slightly harder task Largely because a lot of their shows did not get particularly good reviews because they for the most part all start off in kind of bumpy the creative places so it's a challenge still waiting for one of these services to give us kind of a classic show but I don't know that necessarily if you look at the first couple shows that's a netflix produced that there was necessarily the instant classic unless you happen to really really love House of cards. which a lot of people did I just happened not to have? Isn't there a danger that the higher quality shows from other services will be drowned out. It's always a danger and I think the biggest danger more than anything is the you know the five or six of the best shows are going to have every critic in the country saying you have to watch this and so that will cut through at least to some degree but I think that where we currently partly our is in a place where there's more good or very good. TV out there than ever before. Maybe not more great TV and so. That's a different kind of thing. Where a lot of things things are maybe be plus minus TV? And that's where I think the stuff is GonNa get drowned out because it's going to be harder for there to be any sort of consensus saying you have to watch this good show because everyone's could be going. You have to watch this great show and that's where I get a little concerned as a lot of smaller very good shows that maybe could be great. If people watched I watched that are going to get a little bit drowned out this. That's where my job comes is making sure that I'm out there being in the drum as much as humanly possible for the shows that I think are special. Wasn't two thousand fifteen supposed to be peak. TV Somebody said that John Landgraf of FX told us it was peak TV. He he didn't say that it had reached the absolute peak but he anticipated at a certain in point in the next couple of years that production was going to slow down a tiny bit. That has not happened at all. All we need to do is look on the horizon where in addition edition two more and more programming from Disney plus apple. TV PLUS WE HAVE HBO. Max which could potentially be as big or bigger than those two coming next. May You have love peacock from NBC. Universal it's coming. It's going to be big. It's not just that we're not slowing down it's possibly that it's accelerating ah for consumer people paying their bills with so many streaming services out there. Are we really expected to pay for all of them individually. I think the assumption that everybody in my businesses making is that eventually kind of a cable two point Oh is going to insinuate itself South into the process that after all of these months and years of these services saying okay we need to get away from cable we need to unbundle. We need to cut the cord. Whatever it is at a certain point someone is gonNA find a way to make it easier on the consumers that is the way the economy works? We're not there yet and I don't know how soon we're GONNA get there might might be two years could potentially be five years and if it's five years a lot of people could get nickeled and dimed out of you know out of their budgets and before before we let you go give our listeners. One show to watch on Disney plus and one show to watch on Apple. TV plus the mandatory in is the show that people are talking about. In whatever. Sure but I don't think it really needs my support so if I'm putting my support behind one show it's encore which reunites high school musicals from decades past with with basically all of the people returning years later. Reuniting and putting on shows that they did back in high school. It's kind of sweet. It's amusing and if you're a theater kid or have the heart of a theater kid you'll love it so that's my recommendation on Disney plus as for Apple. TV plus I think Dickenson which might be the smallest list of the initial launch of Apple. TV Plus shows starring Hailee. Steinfeld is really charming. If you can get behind it's these are people in the nineteenth century but a lot of them are talking like they're teenagers from the twenty first century. Gimmick it's funny Hailee Steinfeld is giving a great lead performance and there's just just enough kind of inside nineteenth century American history knowledge to it to make it have substance so I would say encore on Disney TV plus plus and Dickinson on Apple. TV Plus Daniel Fienberg is television critic for the Hollywood reporter. Thanks for joining us. Thanks for having me coming up on the frame actor. Mark Ruffalo tells John Horn. How movies can help society you? He can't decide. I'm going to make this moving. It's going to change the world. The culture calls the peace fourth and so the movie comes out of the cultural need. I need and lands in a specific time and place. Welcome back to the frame Amo John Rabi sitting in today for John Horne Mark. Ruffalo has played the hulk in all the avengers movies but for his new film. Dark waters directed by Todd Haynes. He's he's playing a real life. Hero Attorney Rob Billet Bill. It worked at a law firm that defended chemical companies until he uncovered the toxic truth behind intestine and every scientist knows anything about any of this already works to these chemical companies. That's not an accident earl earl these in these companies. They have all the money all the time. They'll use it trust me. I know I was one of them. Here's the frames John Horn talking with. Mark Ruffalo. This is a person who moved. Every year of his life he had never was able to lay down roots anywhere. was very guard. He's very guarded. You you know never really learned to trust people never but there's this magical moment in his youth on this farm milking cows and you you know we don't play it heavily but that that's that's like a motivator. It's it's like where the light is. You know that that happy moment that that connection into something that keyed in him and of course his grandmother who we love so much and had such a beautiful relationship with That sort of reminded minded him of of who he was I think ultimately and took him on this journey and he started. You know I honestly rob thought this was going to be a few phone calls to some of his pals at Dupont and the whole thing would be cleared up. He and he never expected the goal is far and he always thought that once he showed just this much truth truth that everyone would get it and everything would be righted and that that just turned into seventeen years. And I'm wondering as an actor because you have a scene opposite set Bucky Bailey. who was a kid who was born with birth defects attributable to what dupont was put in the water as an actor? Playing this character it's a story about litigation Asian and discovery and papers. But when you actually come face to face with the real person the real consequence of what to pont has done. How does it affect you? Not only as a performer. But as somebody who's producing this movie and bringing it into the world it's very moving to me That came that that was the last scene of the shoot while and after we did it looked around and the entire crew was crying. It finally dawned on us what we had been endeavouring to accomplish. What it meant to so many people and How serious the nature of it if it was The one thing that todd has done beautifully as like really you know it's about rob. It's about this lawyer but but really like has brought brought the community into it A lot of times. What happens in these situations and or it happens? Even the Environmental Movement is you'll center her on a bigger environmental or they'll centered on themselves and fundraising or they'll center. Someone else centered on themselves as an ego thing or white savior or Savior Xavier and And I've seen that happen and I and I it doesn't do the community good so we really were keeping in mind to always have the community's participation in one way or another and then to have them be there in in reality and That lends authenticity Dan credibility to it. Although it's scary and it could you know it's provocative and it. It can be ego busting at times and I think it's the right thing to do. What is the right thing to do? Because I think that's such an interesting idea and you're describing this scene with bucky and what it meant I and not only to you but also everybody WHO's working on the film. How important is it? That point of the movie is something you love as well. It's very important to to me. I've been an activist Since the Iraq war. It's Kinda where really cut my teeth And everything that happened during in that time but I also move my family to upstate. New York in the middle of the fracking boom and And and fought that with my neighbors farmers Prison Guards Ex Patriots from New York City and I saw how powerful it was for. You know A celebrity to to to be with them and what that drew to them and and how it gave them a voice and I've been doing activism of that sort For a long time in my model is to get the spotlight long enough to throw the people you need to hear from in it and I started to stumble full upon. You know the kids are all right and spotlight this other kind of thing. That was really melding. My craft and storytelling filmmaking with these bigger ideas and questions is not new. You know but for the first time I'm in a position where I was able to you know develop some mm saying and use my name and you know the CACHET that I've gotten with the avengers to to to tell a story that I felt in in this divisive time because activism can be scary to people and and an idiot logically people will immediately shut down to but storytelling never or is and I think just the power of storytelling will heal us. You know and and and that was why I wanted to make this. That's why I was so turned on by. It's it's a whole system that is has been rigged against Our health and And I and I felt like this is the right moment to to talk about it. We're talking with mark. Ruffalo the producer and actor in dark waters. What did the experience of making spotlight do in terms of of your interest in this material? What did you see that that movie was able to accomplish? Obviously was well celebrated one a Minor Award Kademi Award for best picture. But what did it do in the conversation that made you think that telling. The story of Dupont might might follow in normalized the survivors it. It lead us into them and see them and feel them and feel pesos athos for them. And it emboldened other survivors to come out and speak up and emboldened the people on the frontline to these movements movements who who have been stymied in one way or another by the mainstream media or by politicians or just by indifference To keep fighting and and and it's changed the world I I mean that's almost a thousand year old paradigm that is finally shifting and and that movie was part of that discussion now a movie doesn't you can't decide ommited make this movie and it's going to change the world. The culture calls the peace fourth and so the movie comes out of the cultural need and lands in a specific time and place. Ace where we're ready to have that discussion. And that's what I saw spotlight. And that's what I really felt and I know participant felt that way and were rushing to get this movie. I mean we did this in like less than three years. Why was it important to go so fast because they you know you start to sense where we're headed you know Flint Michigan had happened and There was pee foss Contaminations were coming up. New York Kucic falls in North Carolina the military bases. You know it was like it was starting to bubble to the surface but there was no container for two to have a abroad focused discussion about it yet. The other thing that I think it's consistent with spotlight dark waters and there's been a lot of conversation over the last couple of months about whistle blowers and accountability. That spotlight is a team of journalists journalists exposing the truth. Dark waters is about a lawyer and a law firm exposing a hidden truth. I'm wondering if that's something you also think is important that there are people that are gonNA work outside of government to hold people in power accountable. There's a great quote in the movies you know. They're not talking to protect us. Not the not the government scientists. Not The we have to protect us. They want to show the world. It's no use fighting. Look everybody even he. He can't crack the maze and he's helped build it. The system is rigged then wants to protect us. But that's a lie. We protect us. We do not what else. And that's what I think. Ultimately the spirit of the movie is and when I say we I mean that we have to be awake together. We have to be informed and we have to be active and we have to be part of this swirled. But you need people for whatever reason you know rob was living in a culture where you got them you go for the money you go for the career you go the prestige. That's the path that the world is telling him around him to take your describing Hollywood as well as a law firm you know that I'm describing the the entire United States and probably the world. Okay we're we are a materialistic culture. We're told every single day okay that that's what's going to bring us happiness but for whatever reason this man rob lot chose this other path. It's a spiritual path breath although we're not saying that but it has it's it's another path and for whatever reason he followed what was right and he did it at the cost lost his house his home his family has health. And it's a right now. We look around US politically. And what we're being told is were all sh- everyone is selfish. It's best to be selfish Everyone's horrible anyway. So you might as well just get whatever you can while you can get it and we need to hear stories about people who do things because it's right because it's kindly because it's decent and and and and that's a reality that's actually it's real. That's not something that's made up. That's something that's real and there are real people out there doing it coming up. Mark Ruffalo talk more with John Horn about heroes superheroes and corporate greed. This is the frame. Welcome back to the frame. I'm John Rabi sitting in for John Horn. The New Todd Haynes movie dark waters opens today stars Mark Ruffalo who plays Real life lawyer lawyer rob billet who risked health and is financial. Well being to expose the toxic truth behind Dupont Teflon Ruffalo also starred in the Oscar winning film Elm spotlight about the journalist who exposed the Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandal. Here's more of John Horns conversation with Mark Ruffalo. I came up from Stella Adler She was part of the Group Group theatre. They were radicals a believe. That theater could change the world and she used to quote. George Bernard Shaw the time she say you should have to pay to go to church in theaters should be free. Because that's where we learn about each other. That's how we learn about ourselves and so I always sort of gravitated to things that had meaning to them And more and more as I'm getting older and I'm and I'm my career's kind of in in a way established. I'm established as an actor unite. I find myself like really wanting to push push the envelope and pushed myself and and and do these kinds of stories that are like that are like spotlight and are like Dark waters how do you fit the marvel movies into that equation. They seem to be outliers to everything. You've just described. I don't really see it like that. Okay the the super hero. Those mythology stories are are I feel are in our DNA. I think part of the reason we we want those stories and we respond. Respond to those stories is because of our need for a just world and particularly now those movies are about fighting evil and you know they. They have a morality to them. It's a simple morality. And it's it's ause monster so it's fantastical But that's the ethos of the time we're living in we. We want heroes. We we sense something. Out of balance we sense that that there is a force that is malignant and and and self serving and that we we need to fight that this is not coming out of the blue. This is not something that is manufactured right. But when you get to Rob Rob Rob's not a hero because we want to be him. He's a hero because we don't he takes that journey that so few of us have the courage to take and that's moving to us so much of the movie. Dark waters I think is about corporate greed. It's about a calculation that a company makes sane these products. Maybe dangerous but they're making us a billion dollars Persson revenue every year. So we're GONNA make this trade and it got me thinking and I apologize for asking us but it got me thinking about you. Work for for Marvel which is part of the Walt Disney Company. WHO's CEO Makes Sixty five million dollars where one tenth of employees at Disneyland Been Homeless in the last two years? That's fourteen eighteen. He's making fourteen hundred times. The average median pay of Disney employees. So it's not just do pot everybody's making this calculation about making seen as much as you can and screw the little. This is a sickness that we're living in this. This this is the discussion that we're having. This is what we see when we drive through Hollywood. Something is terribly out of balance here. One of the things about the film that I realized during the screening was while look at this so on the front end there poisoning us to save a buck to make a buck. Okay we go through our lives poisoned. We get sick then. We have to pay to make ourselves better but if the state it had a stake in our healthcare I promise you our food and our water and our air would get cleaned up real fast because someone do a cost benefit. NFL analysis of that and they would see that all of this poisoning this corporate welfare by not making corporations actually make sure that what they're putting into our bodies and into the environment is healthy and safe for us. If they had to do that we would be healthy and safe. This is a sickness when capital when democracy is in service of capitalism. You have sickness this. Capitalism should be in service of the democracy not the other way around and when you measure the health of society the health of a nation purely on on economic or GDP outcomes and outputs. You're headed for a disaster and that's what we're living through right now and that's why we need a revolution of of spirit of decency of of selflessness. US Not me. I don't mean to get on my soapbox here but we all see it. You know you you you can't you can't go anywhere right now without seeing the disease of it and it's not like it's not fixable either mark Ruffalo thanks for coming in. Thanks John Horn talking with mark. Ruffalo new film dark waters opens today before before we close the show this week. KPC got a major shout from an unexpected source to counter the okay boomer meam Ellen DeGeneres brought a millennial neil onto her show and asked operate a film camera a manual typewriter and a boombox. So you're going to try to find a radio station on here you're gonNA find NPR. It's eighty nine point three. Am I doing what my saucy doing. Eighty nine point three. Fm Up so you can get eighty nine point three eighty nine point three all right. Let's that's eighty nine point three. KPCC that's offered today on the frame weekend. Saturday at to flee tells John Horn about growing up in a chaotic household filled with violence and jazzed. The frame is produced reduced by Darby. Maloney Monica Bushman. Jonathan Shift Lit and Julia Pascal with help this week from Emily Henderson. Our News Clerk Andrea Gutierrez and are in turn is Paul ratliff. Eduardo Perez is our engineer. The theme music is by Taylor. mcferrin and our senior producer is Oscar Garson.