In the six-part HBO miniseries, ‘I Know This Much Is True,’ created by Derek Cianfrance based on a book by Wally Lamb, Mark Ruffalo plays two twin brothers, Dominick and Thomas Birdsey, who look exactly the same. It is not surprising that the actor put a lot of effort into it.
As Cianfrance revealed to The Wrap in June 2020, Ruffalo followed a strict diet, which allowed him to have 1,000 calorie-a-day to lose 20 pounds to play Dominick. He also did 500 pushups a day. The director said:
“I guess you could say he was always a little bit hangry. He was eating an egg white for breakfast and just starving. And he couldn’t eat for another 3 hours, and all he could eat then was a granola bar that had 120 calories or something because he was on this strict diet. It created this guy, Dominick, who was just wiry and aggressive.”
Back in January 2020, at a TV event, Ruffalo shared that he gained 30 pounds for his role in the TV series. He filmed everything as Dominick for the first 15 weeks, and then he took five weeks off to change into Thomas.
The reason he gained weight for the Thomas character is that he had been taking medication for his schizophrenia for a long time. Ruffalo wanted to show how these medications can affect a person’s body, so he gained weight to make it look realistic. The actor explained:
“We didn’t want it to be like I run and throw a wig on and do the same scene on the same day, so we took six weeks off to really separate these two guys. And Thomas is on medication, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics. A lot of people put on weight.”
Mark added, reflecting on the tough part of playing Thomas:
“Putting on the weight for Thomas was really challenging. I didn’t expect it to be. I thought I was going to have a fun time doing that, but when you’re force-feeding yourself, some of the romance of food sort of leaves.”
In ‘I Know This Much Is True,’ Thomas has schizophrenia and is in a mental hospital. The show is all about Dominick’s efforts to help his brother get out of the hospital. His role in the limited series earned Ruffalo an Emmy and a Golden Globe wins.