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Mark Ruffalo Reveals Why He ‘Almost Quit’ Jennifer Garner’s 13 Going On 30

Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo in Thriller scene in 13 Going on 30
(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

For many Millennials, 13 Going On 30 is the romantic comedy. A big reason for that is the chemistry between Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo, who played the roles of Jenna and Matty to perfection. So it might be shocking to learn that we almost didn’t get to see the pair trading Razzles and doing the "Thriller" dance. This was because Ruffalo "almost quit the movie before it was done filming. 

When you think about the 2004 rom-com, a few key scenes come to mind. The moment when Jenna and Matty start a flash mob version of "Thriller" to liven up a party is probably one of them. While 13 Going On 30’s cast may have looked like they were having a blast, in reality it was a nightmare for Mark Ruffalo to shoot. He told ReelBlend podcast co-host Kevin McCarthy that the challenge of nailing Michael Jackson’s iconic choreography was almost too much for him: 

Whatever Matty was experiencing in that was actually just me. [Jennifer Garner] had to drag me onto the dance floor. It took me six hours to learn what she learned in about six minutes. She was so good at dancing, and I was so bad. … I almost quit the movie.

If you think the actor is exaggerating, think again. Jennifer Garner confirmed that he was ready to hang up his dancing shoes for good:

We had to talk him into staying. We had done all this rehearsal, and then we finally rehearsed the dance and he was just like, 'This isn't for me. I'm not doing it.' [laughs]

Luckily, Mark Ruffalo did do it and, thanks to his contribution, the "Thriller" dance is one of the movie’s most unforgettable scenes. Part of what makes 13 Going On 30 such a fun twist on the body swap genre, one that certainly holds up to this day, is the way it blends nostalgia and sincerity. It shows us that sometimes the things we’re looking for are right in front of us, and that amazing things can happen when we’re thrown into situations that are out of our comfort zone and forced to see them through. 

In that way, it’s a bit ironic to think Mark Ruffalo had to step out of his comfort zone in order to make the movie’s magic work. Despite his discomfort, it’s clear he and Jennifer Garner both have mostly fond memories of making the movie together. In fact, it seems like both actors could even be on board for a sequel – now that even the teen cast is all grown up, there’s a lot to work with. 

Even if we don’t get to see Jenna and Matty together again, the two lead actors did have an on-screen reunion recently. They co-star in the new sci-fi film The Adam Project, which is currently streaming on Netflix.