By the end of 2012, Jeremy Renner will find himself as the center of three possible franchises: as the comic book superhero Hawkeye in The Avengers (who Renner already appeared as in Thor), as Brandt in Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, and as Aaron Cross, the new action lead of The Bourne Legacy.
Renner, who has been nominated for two Oscars in The Hurt Locker and The Town, seems to be taking advantage of every opportunity he has to become a major acting star. But could you blame him? In an interview with Details, Renner reveals that after spending so many years toiling in obscurity and working hard for his next part he has no plans on returning to his early days of his career struggles.
Renner became a recognized star after his Oscar-nominated performance in The Hurt Locker, which he claims he waited for decades. He explains, “I feel blessed to be working these past 20 years in this business. But when The Hurt Locker came around, it became another thing. And all it was is opportunity. I’ve been waiting for a role like that for a long time.”
Renner began his career taking acting classes in junior college, and found it moving. He describes it as being “this very therapeutic thing because I got to express feelings I couldn’t have otherwise. I got into the artistry of it, then studied psychology and human behavior. I really dug being an observer.” Yet before his star-making performance in The Hurt Locker, Renner spent fifteen years appearing in commercials, television shows, and bit parts in films. He admits that it was frustrating, explaining, “I wasn’t getting any sign that said, ‘This is gonna turn out amazing for you.’ I wasn’t super-happy being so poor. Eating on $10 a month—probably not very good for you. But I loved what I was doing. Not every actor gives their life to do this job. Some just do it as a job. Well, it’s my life.”
Renner also spent time doing construction, which allowed him to be a bit more selective of his roles. This semblance of job security boosted his confidence, and he points out, “So when I walked into an audition, I could just think about: ‘Can I contribute to this movie? If not, f— it, I’ll go build a house.’ Building a house is like producing a movie. There’s no right way to do it but a lot of wrong ways. You have to be flexible and creative. You have to move fast, be prepared—or it quickly becomes costly. These sound like life lessons. It’s certainly affected how I approach my life.”
But ever since The Hurt Locker Renner hasn’t had much time for building houses — or anything else, for that matter. He describes his new fame as, “It’s a wonderfully high-class problem to have. All these people want you to be in their movie. Or work with you. Or maybe they want to kick you in the balls. Half the time I don’t know. But it’s better than wondering if I have to write a play and direct it myself just to get that next job.” Still, Renner admits he won’t take every role he’s offered now. He explains, “I’m blessed to have cool roles in these big movies. Because nothing against Transformers, but thank God I don’t have to do a monologue to a robot. I don’t know how Shia, God bless him, does that.” Nonetheless, he believes the “real work” is searching for his next role, and claims that the acting part is easy, saying, “This is the vacation. Work is trying to get a damned job. I skip to set every day.”
But Renner’s recent great success isn’t his cue to take it easy. He only wants to work harder, confessing, “The thing I feel very, very blessed about is that what makes me feel good about my job is also what audiences and directors seem to like. I’ll do things that people don’t like and that’s fine. I just want to continue to work and, if I get the opportunity, swing for the fences. I’m not gonna go for a single. I’m not gonna go for a layup. I’m gonna slam-dunk that motherf— that is the intent.”