According to the ancient Midnight code of smackdown, I officially summon two titans of the arthouse, heroes of thrillers and romcoms alike, the king and queen of range, into a final face-off to determine who is a better actor and person. Our intense examination of how popular, cool, and important each of these Hollywood actors is – coupled with detailed analysis of both their artistic merit and moral compass – will reveal once and for all who is winning in the never-ending, relentless battle between Mark Ruffalo and Rachel Weisz to be the best… in their chosen field, and in our hearts.
Only three years apart, Ruffalo and Weisz were born into different worlds: he in Kenosha, Wisconsin and she in London. Both of our contenders’ parents had nothing to do with acting or Hollywood or movies. Weisz’ parents’ jobs were fancier, though – so her upbringing may have been a little more bougie. She hit the scene first, opposite Keanu Reeves in the crappy 1996 thriller Chain Reaction – but it wasn’t until 1999’s The Mummy that Weisz started to establish her headliner power. Mark Ruffalo spent 10 years refining his talent bartending and doing theater before he broke with a cameo in 1998’s Safe Men – though it was his first cinematic collaboration with Kenneth Lonergan in You Can Count on Me (2000) that gave the world an opportunity to see the Ruffalo’s trademark simmering inner anguish.
Round 1: Popularity
In round 1, contenders face off in two dimensions: lifetime box office draw and appearance in popular franchises.
Talk about the big guns; Ruffalo appeared in 4 Marvel Cinematic Universe films as the Hulk, the biggest and baddest of the Avengers. It almost makes you forget his appearance in the weirdly popular Now You See Me magician movies franchise – but not quite! MCU definitely played a role in his lifetime box office earnings as well – his films have earned nearly $11 billion over his lifetime, his overall rank is #30.
|Franchise Score||4 / 5|
|Box Office Score||5 / 5|
Sexy librarian Evelyn Carnahan is the brains behind the team adventuring archeologists in 1999’s The Mummy, and later was somehow transformed into Nefertiti (I’m not totally sure how this works – I never saw The Mummy Returns). She also co-led The Bourne Legacy, which is probably my favorite Bourne movie, starring Jeremy Renner. Weisz’ films have grossed a respectable $1.5B – she’s ranked #156.
|Franchise Score||5 / 5|
|Box Office Score||4 / 5|
And the Popularity winner is…
EVERYONE! It’s a tie.
Round 2: Coolness
In this round, we’ll look beyond base audience opinion and rate how cool each contender is based, of course, on the number of critically acclaimed (metascore >65), small-budget (<$20M) films they have starred/appeared in, and the relative coolness of their regular collaborators.
From You Can Count on Me to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to We Don’t Live Here Anymore, Mark Ruffalo has some kind of special power for sniffing out a critically beloved small budget drama; he has starred in 5 and had a supporting role in another 2.
His most frequent acting collaborator is Robert Downey, Jr. – in addition to 4 Avengers films, they also worked together on David Fincher’s Zodiac.
|Cool Films Score||5 / 5|
|Collaborators Score||3 / 5|
Starring in two Yorgos Lanthimos films – The Favourite and The Lobster, Weisz is cornering the market on artsy-meets-awards season. Two other Weisz vehicles – The Deep Blue Sea and Disobedience – round out her cool artsy film work.
Weisz’ most frequent collaborator is fellow brit Jude Law – they’ve shared the screen in 4 films: 360, My Blueberry Nights, Enemy at the Gates, and Bent.
|Cool Films Score||3 / 5|
|Collaborators Score||3 / 5|
And Round 2 goes to… RUFFALO!
Round 3: Importance
In round three, contenders will be scored on the films they’ve starred in that have A) won important awards for best picture, acting, directing, or writing, and B) made an impact on the film industry. This second rating measures how much money each film made relative to its budget, influencing the types of movies that get made, distributed and promoted.
Ruffalo has had a role in 7 major award-winning films, starring in 4: Spotlight (Oscars), Foxcatcher (Cannes), We Don’t Live Here Anymore (Sundance), and You Can Count on Me (Independent Spirit/Sundance).
Although he has starred in films that lost a lot of money – such as Reservation Road and The Brothers Bloom – Ruffalo has had more successes than failures. You Can Count on Me and The Kids are Alright both did extraordinarily well – making back 8x their budgets in profit. Ruffalo’s average bang is a respectable 2.47 : 1.
|Prestige Score||3 / 5|
|Industry Bang Score||3 / 5|
Although nominated just last year for her role in The Favourite, Weisz won an Oscar for her role in 2005’s The Constant Gardener. She starred in two additional films that were awards season faves: Youth and The Lobster.
Weisz films haven’t had as extreme lows/highs as Ruffalo’s: she has also had her share of box office failure (The Mercy, The Deep Blue Sea) and success. Her 2017 drama My Cousin Rachel is the headliner, making back 6x its budget in profit. Average for all films she’s starred in is a solid 1:1.
|Prestige Score||5 / 5|
|Industry Bang Score||2 / 5|
And the most important is…. WEISZ!
Round 4: Artistic Merit
In this round, we’ll put aside whether the films they’ve made are cool or popular or important and examine whether they’re actually any good… and will consider each contender’s range. Sure, anyone can do drama or comedy – but can you do a great horror movie? A historical period piece? A musical?
Not only can he deliver drama – Ruffalo does RomCom (13 Going on 30), Action/Thrillers (Shutter Island), Fantasy/SciFi (Avengers) and even showed up as a voice in Chicago 10, a documentary.
Critics generally like his movies too – his average metascore is 65.09 – not AMAZING, but pretty good!
|Range Score||3 / 5|
|Critical Praise Score||3 / 5|
Ms. Weisz has also got it going on across sub-genres: Costume/Historical (Agora), RomCom (Definitely, Maybe), Action/Thrillers (Runaway Jury), and Fantasy/SciFi (The Fountain).
Critics were a little more lukewarm on Weisz’ ouvre – her average Metascore of 60.45 is ok but not great. The Mummy movies didn’t help.
|Range Score||3 / 5|
|Critical Praise Score||2 / 5|
And the superior artist is… RUFFALO.
Round 5: Let’s Get Personal
And now…. the all-important big final round question: who is a better person? You shouldn’t win the Arbitrary Showdown if you’re a creep. That just wouldn’t be right.
Ruffalo isn’t a Hollywood-bred weirdo: he’s a midwesterner, born in Wisconsin to parents with normal jobs (hair stylist, construction painter). He’s been married once, for the last 20 years. He’s an outspoken advocate for a number of politically charged causes: women’s rights, GLBT rights, anti-fracking, water protectors, and campaigning for progressive political candidates.
He’s really only been in the gossip column for his suspicions that 9/11 was an inside job. Which – let’s be honest, it probably was.
|Good Person Score||5 / 5|
Weisz also wasn’t bred to be a superstar – her parents are educated professional Brits. She went to college and graduated with honors, though she did start being in the public eye young – beginning her career as a model at age 14. She has had two partners, both really famous guys. She contributes to the social good (health care, vulnerable children, the environment), though shies away from any sort of political advocacy. Other than her work, she keeps it private – nothing much in the gossip column.
|Good Person Score||3 / 5|
And the person I’d rather ask to take care of my dog while I’m on vacation is…..
So who won?
|Popularity||9 / 10|
|Coolness||9 / 10|
|Importance||6 / 10|
|Artistic Merit||6 / 10|
|Good Person||5 / 5|
|TOTAL||35 / 45|
|AVERAGE||3.9 / 5|
|Popularity||9 / 10|
|Coolness||6 / 10|
|Importance||7 / 10|
|Artistic Merit||5 / 10|
|Good Person||3 / 5|
|TOTAL||30 / 45|
|AVERAGE||3.3 / 5|
Mark Ruffalo WINS!
Now you know. I’m so glad that’s settled.