Jeremy Renner pulls Hawkeye's bow in The Avengers
LOS ANGELES—Jeremy Renner became famous overnight. As always, it took a few years to get there. Prior to winning a best-actor Oscar nomination for his performance in The Hurt Locker, he had spent 14 years honing his craft and taking on roles that were challenging. Like most actors who are passionate about their art, he wasn’t looking to be famous; he just wanted to find projects that kept him busy and content with the work.
And why not? Fame is fleeting. You can’t rest on your laurels. However, don’t worry about Renner. He hasn’t stopped working since his 2009 nomination. He took on Ben Affleck’s The Town and won a second nomination—this time for supporting actor—the following year. Then he decided to allow his agents to find him something bigger. They found him the second lead in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, a superhero role in The Avengers (which opens Friday [May 4] ), and then sent him straight to the set of The Bourne Legacy, where he has the lead role of CIA operative Aaron Cross.
Dizzying stuff, but Renner says he is just happy to be doing what he loves. And he says that if he has managed to make a career out of his passion, it has had a lot to do with support from his family. “As long as I am happy, my mother is happy. She was happy for many years knowing I was doing what I liked to do, and success is just icing on the cake. My whole family is afraid of things they don’t know. Since no one in my family had been an artist, I just came down here [to L.A. from northern California] by myself. No one knew what I was doing and neither did I. I just knew that I loved what I did, and I got lucky here and there.”
In The Avengers, he plays arrow slinger Hawkeye, a member of an exclusive club of superheroes. Known for extensively training for roles, he is asked if he had to become an ace archer to play the role. He says that it’s hard to prepare for playing someone with superpowers.
“I love training for films. It’s not a form of communication, by any means, but it’s like learning a language or a dance. It’s fun to learn a new skill set. I pick up some things easier than others. But in this film, I learned very quickly that I would be using CGI arrows because as a supermarksman he doesn’t look where he’s shooting. I learned the basic skill set, but I also knew that he was pulling the arrows and firing a thousand times faster than an archer would fire. So it [training] was more about hand-to-hand combat and knife training and things like that, and using the bow as a weapon for close contact.”
The next step is taking over the lead role of the Bourne franchise from Matt Damon. He says that although action movies might seem the same to audiences, there are few similarities between Bourne Legacy and The Avengers.
“That [The Bourne Legacy] was the most fun I have had in a long time. It [The Avengers] was a tremendous experience and a massive spectacle. I didn’t even see half the actors in the movie. Then you get to something like The Bourne Legacy, which is also a massive franchise and a big action movie, but it felt like a tiny, little independent film. Everything is very intimate in that movie. There is no green screen like this [Avengers]. It is Rachel [Weisz] and I in certain circumstances until you get to the third act. Then it opens itself up into another world. But it is an intimate movie. It is intense and it moves, but it is more of a thinker’s movie that happens to be filled with a bunch of action.”
Watch the trailer for The Avengers.