In the new, award-winning movie, Infinitely Polar Bear, Mark Ruffalo plays a father whose bipolar condition affects all or most of his life, from an inability to keep a steady job to bold wardrobe choices. Of his character, Ruffalo says he has “one foot on the banana peel and the other on the grave.” It a “real tightrope act.” Ruffalo, 47, had little difficulty accessing the character. He says manic depression “runs in the family,” and that he has personally suffered occasional bouts of depression.
“I have close family members who are manic and weren’t diagnosed until later in life. Yes their behavior at times will get extreme, but no one was ever looking at it like that. It’s on a scale, it slides around, and you never really know if they’re in mania, or they’re just happy, or they’re sad, or they’re deeply depressed. Sometimes you think it’s like a movie, where you turn the switch on and turn the switch off, but it isn’t like that. It’s more like a dimmer switch.”
In the film, the dad comes around. He gets more regular on his medication and temper tantrums reduce, permitting his daughters to finally see him as the mostly harmless, lovable weirdo he is.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1pCQS1H2Z0]