Mark Ruffalo admits trying to find the balance between being an actor, activist and dad isn’t always easy.
“It’s intense. The times when my wife is gone and I’ve had to take care of everything . . . the laundry alone is enough to destroy you,” jokes the actor, 52, who is dad to Keen, 18, Bella, 14, and Odette, 12, with Sunrise, 47, his wife of 19 years.
With his busy career, his wife shoulders more of the responsibilities at home—which Ruffalo is quick to point out. “My wife is just a hero,” he tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.
For more on Mark Ruffalo, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.
In his new movie, Dark Waters, the Avengers star plays real-life hero, environmental lawyer Rob Bilott, who has spent the last 20 years battling the DuPont chemical company over toxins leaked into the water supply in West Virginia. Ruffalo was intrigued by the story not only because of his own activism but because of Bilott’s example.
“I think right now there’s a tendency to believe that everyone’s terrible and selfish. But there’s another path. You can be selfless, thoughtful and kind,” he says. “There are Rob Bilotts out there.”
When not working, Ruffalo treasures his downtime with his family where they enjoy snowboarding, cooking and gardening—but most of all, just being together.
“I like those moments where you’re just chugging along and then, all of a sudden, your kids open up to you, and you have this deep conversation where they express their troubles— it’s hard for them, especially at that age,” he says. “But my kids are way more savvy than I was, man. They’re so engaged in the world.”
Dark Waters opens in limited release on Friday, before expanding to more locations on Nov. 29.