Mark Ruffalo recalled learning he had a ‘golf-sized’ brain tumor in 2001, following a disturbing dream.
While appearing on Monday’s episode of the SmartLess podcast with hosts Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett, the actor, 56, described learning that he ‘had a brain tumor after the success of You Can Count on Me.’
After having a nightmare ‘so intense’ that it prompted him to get a CAT scan to ‘deal with it immediately,’ the father-of-three revealed he went to the doctor with a ‘sense of doom.’
‘The nurse calls the doctor up, I could hear them talking in the other room. She comes in, she’s kinda like a zombie and she says, ‘You have a mass behind your left ear the size of a golf ball, and we don’t know what it is. We can’t tell until it’s biopsied,’ he said told listeners.
Mark Ruffalo recalled learning he had a ‘golf-sized’ brain tumor in 2001, following a disturbing dream (seen in January 2024)
Ahead of his diagnosis, the only symptom he suffered from was an ear infection.
While the tumor was thankfully benign, Ruffalo, who was 33, needed surgery to remove the mass.
At the time, his wife Sunrise Coigney was due to give birth to their first child, son Keen, now 22, any day.
To prevent upsetting her, he waited until after their little one was born to break the news.
‘When I told Sunny about it, first she thought I was joking,’ he said. ‘And then she just burst into tears and said, ‘I always knew you were gonna die young.”
The day after informing his wife, he met with a neurologist to figure out a treatment plan and have the tumor surgically removed.
The four-time Academy Award nominee, who gained international recognition for playing The Hulk since 2012 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, noted that the surgery risks included a 20 percent chance of ‘killing’ the nerve on the left side of his face and a 70 percent chance of losing his hearing in that ear.
‘[I am] completely deaf in one ear, and when I woke up, the left side of my face was totally paralyzed,’ he recalled. ‘I couldn’t even close my eye. I was talking out the side of my mouth.’
While appearing on Monday’s episode of the SmartLess podcast with hosts Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett, the actor, 56, described learning that he ‘had a brain tumor after the success of You Can Count on Me’ (pictured at the time in March 2001)
After having a dream ‘so intense’ that prompted him to get a CAT scan to ‘deal with it immediately,’ the father-of-three remembered going to the doctor with a ‘sense of doom’ (pictured in 2000)
After a year, the paralysis went away, but hearing loss remained.
He and his spouse ended up welcoming two more children, Bella Noche, 18, and Odette, 16.
Following the surgery, he went on to become one of the few performers to be nominated for all four of the major entertainment awards in the United States (EGOT).
Over his career, he has won two Emmy Awards, a Grammy nomination, four Oscar nods and a Tony Award nomination.