Actor Mark Ruffalo slammed by GOP congressmen for appearing at anti-chemical Congress hearing

November 20, 2019
In The News

WASHINGTON — Actor Mark Ruffalo seemed to be as toxic to Republicans at a Capitol Hill hearing on cancer-causing chemicals Tuesday as the chemicals themselves.

Ruffalo, who stars in an upcoming movie titled “Dark Waters” about a real-life crusading lawyer who took on chemical giant DuPont, was one of four witnesses called to talk about chemicals in the PFAS family used in consumer products, non-stick pans and firefighting foam that have been found to cause cancer and birth defects.

The compounds are called “forever chemicals,” Ruffalo testified, because they accumulate in the blood and tissues of humans, and are linked to numerous ill health effects.

The actor’s words and presence angered Republican members of the Oversight subcommittee on the environment.

“It’s unclear to me why a Hollywood actor with no scientific expertise on PFAS chemicals would be called to testify today,” said the top Republican on the subcommittee, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.).

"[Democrats] called as their star witness an actor. That’s right, an actor,” fumed Rep. Fred Keller (R-Pa.), saying the “Hulk” star Ruffalo was “an actor with no medical, no scientific or research expertise except for a few scenes as Bruce Banner.”

Ruffalo got better reviews from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who pointed out a movie — or at least the trailer Republicans said they watched — didn’t compare to the millions being spent by corporations to head off relatively modest proposed steps such as banning the dumping of PFAS chemicals in water.

“There are people spending far more money to purchase our public policy than a movie trailer right now,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

The actor wasn’t ruffled by the barbs. “I’m an American, I’m a citizen,” Ruffalo told the Daily News.

He at least saw his efforts and the GOP squawks as a chance to tell more people about the toxic chemicals that can be found in the tissues of nearly everyone in the U.S.

“I don’t know why it gets in their craw, but the more people that see this movie the better,” he said. "This is a true story. That’s what I do. It’s part of my work as an actor.”