Mark Ruffalo’s Leap of Faith

“I don’t believe in miraculous healings,” Mark Ruffalo told a Sundance audience Saturday night at a party given by Cornerstore Entertainment. It’s an odd statement, considering he spent ten years making a movie about a paralyzed DJ who has the ability to perform them. Sympathy for Delicious premiered this weekend, the result of a long collaboration with screenwriter Christopher Thornton. (It’s Ruffalo’s directorial debut, and both men star in the film, alongside Juliette Lewis, Laura Linney, and Orlando Bloom.)

Thornton, who has been wheelchair-bound since a 1992 rock-climbing accident, knows the whole faith-healing scene first-hand. “When you’re in the hospital and getting out of it, all these religious friends show up,” he said during Saturday’s post-screening Q+A. Thornton let the believers convince him it might work; it didn’t. “Later, when I was kind of past all that, and sort of came to my senses…I thought there was a story in that,” he recounted.

Ruffalo agreed, although he shares Thornton’s distaste for actual so-called faith healers. “Benny Hinn, I think, is a charlatan. A lot of these people, I think, feed on people who are in a lot of need, and desperate,” he said. He and Thornton struggled to secure funding for their movie about a down-and-out scratcher (played by Thornton) who can cure everything from a cigarette burn to emphysema with the touch of his hands, until salvation came along in the form of an arts patron who gave them a million dollars. “We said, ‘Do you want to read the script?’  And she said, ‘No, darling, I don’t need to read the script. I’ve seen you guys on stage; I know you can do it,'” Ruffalo said. Talk about faith!