Mark Ruffalo’s environmental drama ‘Dark Waters’ gets DC premiere
Actor and activist Mark Ruffalo hit the red carpet in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday night to promote his film “Dark Waters,” and to speak out on the dangers of toxic so-called “forever chemicals.”
Ruffalo testified before lawmakers on Capitol Hill, urging them to pass legislation regulating those chemicals, also known as PFAS, on Tuesday.
“They’re really talking about it, and it really is a bipartisan issue,” Ruffalo told reporters at the red carpet event at the Motion Picture Association in downtown Washington.
“It is the one place that I think they can show the world, show the country, that they can work together on issues that touch all our lives,” he added.
Ruffalo is no stranger to politics as a critic of President Trump and a prominent supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 Democratic contender.
Ruffalo said he believes Sanders “will beat Trump’s ass.”
In his new film, Ruffalo plays lawyer Robert Bilott, who spent 20 years fighting a class action lawsuit against the DuPont chemical company, winning a more than $600 million settlement in 2017. The suit was over toxic runoff from a DuPont landfill with PFAS chemicals, which linger and contaminate water and food sources long after their initial use.
There is no federal regulation of these chemicals, though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acknowledges that exposure to them can be dangerous for humans and that the chemicals can be found in food and water supplies.
Bilott joined Ruffalo on the Hill and at the film’s screening Tuesday, where he told ITK it was “pretty surreal” to have the Hollywood star portraying him on the silver screen.
He added that he hadn’t started his legal career intending to become an activist for clean water, but always “wanted to make sure that I was representing every client that I took on to the best of my abilities, and I really see [the activism] as just an extension of that.”
Bilott was later heard joking that his children called him “The Lorax,” after the Dr. Seuss character who fights for the environment by “[speaking] for the trees.”
Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) also walked Tuesday’s red carpet after speaking at a presser with Ruffalo and Bilott that morning.
Kildee serves as a co-chairman of the bipartisan House PFAS Task Force.
“Unlike a lot of issues, this is one that affects everyone,” Kildee said Tuesday evening.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, rich or poor, if you don’t even vote. Your life can be changed forever,” he added.
Actress and activist Jane Fonda, who has been arrested at D.C. climate protests this fall, was seen at the reception before Tuesday’s film screening — sporting a pair of sunglasses.
Kildee was heard telling his staff that “Jane” wanted to visit Flint, Mich., a town in his district which had its own crisis over lead-contaminated water. Fonda has previously attended rallies in Flint with activist groups.
Bilott said he hopes “Dark Waters” will raise awareness of PFAS contamination.
“I really am grateful to … all the people that worked on the movie to actually bring this story out to a wider audience,” Bilott said.
“Right now, people don’t know that they’ve been exposed” to PFAS, Bilott added. “Hopefully, people at least have the option, now, of knowing.”
Updated at 11:12 a.m.