Jeremy Renner Discusses The Avengers, Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol, Bourne Legacy and More
11.30.11 by Ryan
In 2003, actor Jeremy Renner co-starred in what could have been the beginning of a franchise with S.W.A.T. Almost a decade later and after appearing in independent and lower-budgeted fare like The Hurt Locker and The Town (both of which earned Renner Academy Award nominations), Renner is in four established or potential franchise movies — Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Avengers and The Bourne Legacy.
As Renner explained to ComingSoon, being a part of so many franchises was not something the actor anticipated.
I never went after a big franchise. I never went after a big action movie. They just sort of kind of manifested in a way... It started off by me saying, "Why not be in a movie that will play all over the world, but that still has something that I can do in it? Why not?" It was kind of impossible for me to say no [to these movies] as long as there was stuff for me to do character-wise, selfishly, it's just a bigger setting. A bigger stage.
One of the biggest stages will be in The Avengers, which will combine superhero characters from established Marvel solo movies and combine them into one team. Renner admits that he feels "blessed to be a part of [the Marvel] universe" as Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye.
Because I love what Marvel did with something so fantastical and unrealistic, making it kind of plausible, like when they did Iron Man. I just thought those were really great movies, the first one in particular... The character of Hawkeye was always cool. He's kind of a rogue, shadowy character. That's what attracted me to him. Then he's also a human being. He just has a high skill set, so they call him a superhero.
As for how much his character will appear in The Avengers, Renner isn't sure. "I feel like I might be an extra in it," the actor joked to HitFix, adding that his performance was a little easier than his brief appearance in Thor. "It [was] actually difficult because, you know, there’s not a lot to do," Renner said of his cameo. "Just stand on a bucket and hold my bow and arrow."
The Avengers boasts a huge ensemble, but Renner says he won't share tons of screen time with everyone in the cast.
I mean, look at how many characters are in that thing. It was the ultimate challenge for [writer-director] Joss Whedon, who, you know, knows that universe so well — no one better to write it. And he was so challenged and — to write and direct that thing, to — I don’t know how you put that many characters in a movie like that. It’s immense. But you know, with that...you get to work with very few of [the other actors], because everybody’s got their own thing kind of going on; someone’s in the air, flying around; I’m on the ground, shooting a bow and arrow, and whatever — there’s a lot of things happening. So I have no idea what that movie looks like.
Should The Avengers become a success next summer, Renner could be called upon to appear in a sequel, and he could also receive his own solo movie as Hawkeye. "I don’t know; there are a lot of variables in that one," said Renner of a Hawkeye movie. "I suppose if they all aligned, then it could be interesting, because I certainly like the character. But I don’t know what the future holds."
For now, Renner is content working on Bourne Legacy, which is currently in production until late February. While Renner couldn't offer many details about the Bourne-less Bourne sequel, he wanted to make it clear that he was not taking over for franchise star Matt Damon.
What I can clarify, [what] there’s been some confusion about [is] that I was taking over for Matt — [but] there’s no taking over for Matt. Matt Damon will always be Jason Bourne to that franchise. But the writer [Tony Gilroy] is consistent through them all, the same writer, and he’s also our director on this one. And so there’ll be, for the fan base that likes that type of movie, it’ll be — the continuity of that, the pace of it, the way it’s shot, just everything about it is — you’ll know it’s a Bourne movie. There’s just going to be different faces. There’s going to be Ed Norton and Rachel Weisz, which are, you know, some of the most talented actors out there. But it’ll be just a different program, and different — different spies, essentially. But...it has that same sort of pace to it.
Renner admitted that he had spoken to Damon about the part, who advised him to "just listen to your guys that know what they’re doing," particularly stunt coordinator and second unit director Dan Bradley. Renner had just worked with Bradley on Ghost Protocol, another franchise the actor is rumored to be taking over. Renner set the record straight with Extra (via Deadline) that the franchise is still property of Tom Cruise.
I don’t think that’s really ever a possibility. I think the possibility, first and foremost, is for audiences to receive this movie and like it, want to see more. And then it’s Tom’s willingness to want to do another one, to put together another big movie like this. These aren’t easy to put together. So if Paramount and Tom want me to do it, I’d be happy to be a part of it. I’d be up for it... assuming my character doesn’t croak. I’m not going to tell ya!
The rumors could stem from some comments Renner made last year when he said that his Ghost Protocol character had "the potential to take over" the franchise should "Tom chose to step out."
Renner will also continue to work in some indie movies, with two projects lined up with writer-director James Gray (We Own the Night). One is a project called Low Life, which Renner told The Playlist is "an amazing story" that would have Renner co-star with Joaquin Phoenix and Marion Cotillard. "It’s not an action movie, which at this point, from where I’m sitting, is kind of a nice thing," said Renner.
There's also a biopic about the late actor Steve McQueen which Gray is writing.
It happened because a script came around and they asked maybe if I wanted to look at it and potentially maybe play him. I thought it’s interesting, and obviously, I loved his movies, [but] I wouldn’t say like I was a massive fan of him, by any means. I’ve seen probably like three of his movies. But then as it came around and I started to study him more and realized wow, what a dichotomy of a human being. He’s really, really interesting, outside of what most know him as, like you just said, the King of Cool or the coolest human being that ever lived or whatever it is. But he was also the most insecure guy that ever lived, and all these other things that undercut what we know him as.
The McQueen biopic is likely the project that is furthest away for Renner, as the actor pointed out to ComingSoon that Gray "doesn't even have a first draft yet" adding, "It's certainly something that interests me. If it comes to fruition, fantastic. We'll see."