Mark Ruffalo and real-life hero discuss the story behind ‘Dark Waters’

The actor shares why he wanted to make the story into a movie, and lawyer Robert Bilott discusses why he took on a multibillion-dollar corporation.
8:35 | 11/21/19

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Transcript for Mark Ruffalo and real-life hero discuss the story behind ‘Dark Waters’
stars in the powerful new movie "Dark waters" the true story of corporate lawyer Robert bilott's 20-year battle with the Dupont chemical company, who knowingly poisoned thousands by dumping toxic waste into West Virginia and Ohio's waterways. It left entire communities devastated, angry, and suspicious. Take a look. You're right, they should. And it kills me that they won't. But that would mean going to trial and proving that C.A. Killed your cows, and every scientist who knows anything about any of this already works with these chemical companies. That's not an accident, Earl. Earl, these companies, they have all the money, all the time, and they'll use it. Trust me, I know, I was one of them. You're still one of them. Please welcome Mark Ruffalo and the man he portrays, mark bilott. This is a movie that has nothing -- it doesn't -- it's not political. This is about the environment which is not a political animal. The environment doesn't care whether you're left, right or center. The environment affects everybody, so, mark, when you first heard about this story, what hit you and you said oh, no, got to do this? I guess the enormity of it and how long it's actually been going on. It's probably one of the greatest coverups in American history, and it affects everyone in the world now and nobody knows about it. When you say -- They do now. And they'll know more. When you say it affects everyone, what do you mean? Well, pfoa, it's pretty much everywhere. They first found it in eagle eggs and that's what kind of raised the alarm in the first place. But they found it everywhere. It's in polar bears. It's in 99% of all living creatures on the planet. It's in all of us here. It's a chemical. It's a chemical. It's persistent. It lasts forever and it bioaccumulates and there's no way to get rid of it once it's in us and it's linked to -- definitively linked to six major diseases. You read about it in a "New York Times" article? I read about it in Nath an yal rich's "New York Times." And the title was theawyers that became Dupont's worst nightmare and that's rob bilott. And you decided to just give him a call? No. It was much more complicated. By the time I started to get into , there were several people in Hollywood already trying to get the rights to it. I saw, Bob, when the clip came on, you almost looked pain stricken, but you've been fighting for the past 20 years on behalf of 70,000 people in West Virginia who believe that they have been poisoned by the hazardous chemicals that Dupont dumped into their water. It was a big risk for you and it took over your entire life, but kudos to you, counsellor, for using your law degree in that Thank you. Why take on this fight? Well, as you just heard from mark, we're talking about a massive public health threat. This is something where when we first found out about it, it was affecting, we thought, one farm, one family. Then we realized this was a chemical that was in the entire surrounding community's drinking water. As we kept digging through the documents and seeing all these documents that really nobody else had seen, we realized this stuff was in water all over the country, all over the world and not just -- it was getting into everybody's blood and as mark indicated, this stuff, when it gets in your blood, it sticks and it stays there and it builds up over time. We're now talking about probably one of the biggest environmental contamination stories in history and most of us still don't know about it. We know about Flint, Michigan, one water supply. Here we're talking about something that's in water all over the world in all of our blood, animals, polar bears, eagles, and we're just starting to hear about this because this information was withheld and covered up for years. That's what they always do, isn't it? Isn't that typical? We saw Aaron brockovich. We saw that movie and we know about love canal which was another coverup story. According to "The New York Times" the trump administration is trying to roll back more than 80 environmental rules and regulations. I don't know if they're able to do it so easily. There is a lot of pushback, including the clean water act, things that everybody drinks. Speak into if you will. That's disastrous and we have a -- if you care about your water and you want clean water, then you know what to do in 2020. But the real truth of this is, this transcends any one presidency or administration. This has been going on for 50 years. This movie is fantastic and I just hope everyone goes out and watches it. But for people watching this show right now, what can the normal every day person do to help fight for clean drinking water? Because we all need that. One of the things I think you'll see in the movie is we're talking about a community that came together and started speaking out and saying we're not going to put up with this. We want this out of our water. Really, what we're trying to do is make sure that none of the other communities that are finding out almost every day that this chemical is in their water somewhere across the country, they don't have to do what that community did. It took them 20 years to bring this story out so that people don't have to do this again. But there's a great coalition that's being put together in conjunction with the movie of community groups and environmental organizations that have been working on this for years, making information available. Where is this chemical still used, what kind of products can I switch to that don't use this, what companies are switching away from it. A lot of that information is going to be made available here with the release of the movie. And also respect your whistle-blowers because they are the ones who really out this type of behavior. This guy is a hero. He is. Heros are always modest. I know. And he's a hero -- he's a hero not because you want to be him but because you see how hard it was to be him. Yeah. He really took the journey that very few of us take and it's an honor to be sitting here with him. Thank you. It's an incredible story. It's exciting, it's dangerous. But you're important, too, mark, because you picked up on this story and made a movie so that people understand what's going on. Very important person too. Thank you. Jane fonda was just here last week to talk about her climate change protest because, you know, she's been arrested four times that we know of right now. And she asked a lot of folks to join her. Did I hear you might be taking a little trip? I was asked to join and I'm going to join her in December. Excellent. Yeah. Excellent, excellent. That's it. It's so nice to be here with the two of you. Thank you. We've not met. Oh. He was here a while ago. He's been here -- every time he's here -- I keep missing you. I hate that. I thought it was on purpose for a minute. I thought it was on purpose. Thanks to Mark Ruffalo and rob bilott. "Dark waters" is in theaters on November 22 and Robert has written a new book about his fight against Dupont called "Exposure." And you know what, y'all, because I know y'all do give a damn, we're giving everybody in the audience a copy.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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