Mark Ruffalo stars as identical twin brothers in the new HBO miniseries titled I Know This Much Is True, premiering Sunday, May 10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.
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I Know This Much Is True Preview
In this new HBO miniseries based on the Wally Lamb novel of the same name, Mark Ruffalo plays identical twin brothers Dominick and Thomas Birdsey. Thomas is a paranoid schizophrenic and ends up in a psychiatric hospital after cutting off his own hand.
As Dominick tries to help Thomas, he ends up confronting his own demons, like the loss of his child to SIDS and experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder because of his own hardships. When Dominick is faced with another devastating loss, he struggles to pick up the pieces of his life and cope with his considerable loss and sorrow.
At the 2020 Television Critics Association winter press tour in January, both Ruffalo and writer/director Derek Cianfrance talked about the incredible transformation Ruffalo went through to play the brothers because even though they have identical DNA, their 40 years on Earth have made them completely different people, both mentally and physically.
“We shot everything with Dominick for the first 15 weeks,” said Cianfrance. “[Then] Mark took five weeks off, and he put on like 30 pounds, and then showed up as Thomas … and so, Thomas and Dominick were two totally different people. I remember when Mark came back to set as Thomas, the crew was in like a state of awe and shock, you know, because he was a completely different guy … it was an astounding performance to watch, and a commitment from, you know, from one of the great actors. So, I felt very fortunate to be a part of that.”
“When we were talking about how we would do it, we didn’t want it to be like I run and put a wig on, and then run and do the same scene on the same day,” said Ruffalo. “So, yeah, we took five weeks off to really separate these two guys. You know, Thomas was on a lot of medication — these mood stabilizers and antipsychotics cause people to put on weight. And, yeah, like Derek said, their life experiences after their teens are so extremely different. But it was important for us to really, really have these guys be two different people.”
Obviously, Ruffalo cannot act in a scene with himself as the other twin, but the material was so intense that they didn’t want him acting to no one, so they hired actor Gabe Fazio to play the brothers opposite Ruffalo — and he dedicated himself to it as much as Ruffalo did, even though he would never appear in the series.
“We had an amazing actor, Gabe Fazio who, basically, played both characters as well,” said Ruffalo. “Derek had the wisdom and the insight to make sure that we had a fantastic actor to be able to play these scenes.”
“When Mark came back to play Thomas, Gabe had lost 30 pounds, and he was fully Dominick, and he had been studying what Mark was doing as Dominick, so he could kind of become Dominick, the Dominick that Mark played,” revealed Cianfrance.
Cianfrance also said that this story felt so ripe for adaptation because stories about families are so universal.
“I’m obsessed with telling stories about family because I want to tell human stories, and I feel like in families that’s where you can explore the most humanity and find the most surprises and uncover the most secrets and learn the most about yourself,” said the director.
The series also stars Juliette Lewis, Melissa Leo, Rosie O’Donnell, Archie Panjabi, Kathryn Hahn, Bruce Greenwood, Guillermo Diaz, and Rob Huebel.
I Know This Much Is True airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.
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