Actor/director Mark Ruffalo forced his disabled best pal to sleep in his car on the mean streets of Los Angeles to get a real feel for the paraplegic he plays in a hard-hitting new movie.
Christopher Thornton feared for his life as he researched his role in Mark Ruffalo's directorial debut Sympathy For Delicious after he was forced to spend two "scary" nights in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles.
The film is based on Thornton's screenplay about a homeless paraplegic who lives in his car, and The Kids Are All Right star insisted his best pal experience life on the streets for himself before playing the lead role.
The actor, who is wheelchair-bound in real life, admits he got little sleep during his stint on Skid Row:
He tells WENN, "Mark made me live in a car. He said to do it on Skid Row which is really dangerous, so I think I spent two nights on Skid because it is really violent down there... I was trying to get a taste of it.
"There were terrible drug addicts who are all jittery, craving a fix and crazy and screaming, and fights would break out. One minute Skid Row is very beautiful and almost serene and all of a sudden it's very violent. It's a very volatile, constantly changing place.
"There's a scene in the movie where my car gets broken into and that was actually inspired because I thought they were gonna break into the car that I was actually sleeping in when I was down there. People were just running up and down and banging on things. It was really scary. I don't recommend it."
Ruffalo admits he was well aware of how dangerous the area was, but felt it necessary for Thornton to learn how to survive for himself to fully understand the struggles faced by the character he was portraying.
He says, "I just wanted him to go spend some time on Skid Row because the movie really captured that place. I worked down there and spent time living near Skid Row. I had a neighbour that was stabbed on my doorstep by gang members. It was a heavy time when I lived there in the early '90s; it was pretty much the introduction of crack cocaine and it was a very heavy place to live. I wanted Christopher to get a sense of how difficult the character's life is in the beginning of the movie."