- Published: Friday, 01 May 2015 05:32
- Written by coolshades
Rest assured, Jeremy Renner does not spend much of the new “Avengers” movie walking around in a brainwashed stupor.
The Modesto-raised actor, whose character was hijacked by an evil force in the 2012 blockbuster, is back as the real Hawkeye/Clint Barton for its sequel, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” opening Friday, May 1. This time around, the Beyer High grad and Modesto Junior College alum said he was happy that he – and we – will get to find out more about the man behind the straight arrows.
“I was very excited when I got the script because a lot of the things that were in it were some of the ideas we discussed initially when I signed on to the character,” said the two-time Academy Award nominee the morning after the film’s big Los Angeles premiere. “We get a real introduction to Hawkeye in this one, which was really, really exciting. I become really kind of part of the team. There are a lot of details on that I can’t reveal because they’re spoilers. But the really cool things that are revealed is that all the character relationships are deepened and there are a lot of new goodies and baddies. I was really excited to see that on screen.”
Renner returns to the flagship Marvel film franchise along with the rest of the all-star cast, which includes Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and Mark Ruffalo. The film also reteams Renner with its director, Joss Whedon. But their relationship actually goes back to 2000, when Renner starred in an episode of Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” spinoff, “Angel.”
“We had a really great shorthand, when you have trust in your director and your director trusts you. We pretty much jammed one take for most of the stuff,” Renner said. “I think he was just as excited about revealing stuff about Hawkeye in this as I was and as a lot of people were. It was really easy working with him on this. But he had so many things going on. I’m just a small cog in this wheel. Whatever I could do to make him happy, I trusted that he would take care of me in the movie.”
Renner said he was excited for people to see “Age of Ultron” because of its expanded scale, and he calls the film a “fantastic ride.”
“I think everything that was good about the first ‘Avengers’ is exponentially more in this one. From visual effects to the scope of the movie, it’s a lot bigger. It’s more global. It was shot in four different continents. There are more characters, there is more humor,” he said.
The first film created a massive international fan base for the series and its stars. Renner said he particularly enjoys his interactions with younger fans.
“You get 7-year-olds running up to you in costume and they want a photo. There’s something beautiful about the purity of a child’s spirit. They come with an amazing energy. And then usually it’s tagged along with the dad dressed in costume, as well, which can make it quite creepy,” he said with a laugh. “No, it’s all amazing. It really is amazing. It’s a giant, giant spread of the fans that like these kind of movies. But that’s the joy I get out of it, seeing the kids run up and be delighted.”
As part of the Marvel and “Avengers” machine, Renner’s face has been emblazoned on the side of soda cans and packages of chips. He has his own plush doll and action figures. So far, he counts himself among the lucky ones when it comes to the accuracy of his likeness.
“I saw the Hot Toys (action figure), and it’s eerily similar. It’s a cool thing, it really kind of is,” he said. “But I don’t know what you do with it. But then I’m a 44-year-old man; I’m not sure what you do with the little mini-me thing. I don’t think I want to know what other people do with it. But it’s a cool thing, right?”
What most interests Renner now about the “Avengers” films is telling good stories. While he didn’t grow up a comic book fan, he said he wants people to get to know Hawkeye. As for whether a stand-alone movie about his stoic bowman might ever happen, Renner said those decisions are “above my pay grade.”
“I have no idea what they want to do with the character. I am just happy to jump into this one and kind of figure him out a little more. I never thought there would ultimately be one, but as long as I get to explore the character a bit, I certainly have fun playing him,” he said.
Still, Hawkeye isn’t the only character in a blockbuster franchise Renner is tackling this summer. In July, he will return to the big screen in the Tom Cruise action extravaganza “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.” The film will be the fifth in the “Mission: Impossible” series and second featuring Renner and his agent-turned-analyst character, William Brandt. The first was the 2011 film “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.”
“It was such a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of shooting experience. We were feeling it out as we went. I have seen maybe a few action sequences. The action is just tremendous,” he said. “All I know is the boys are back: Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg and Tom Cruise, and there’s the addition of Alec Baldwin. I’m pretty confident that thing will be a pretty rocking movie, with the track record this has had.”
There is also some talk of Renner’s return to the “Bourne” universe. He expanded the CIA assassin series with the 2012 film “The Bourne Legacy.” Renner said original series star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass are returning to film another installment this year. But while there is still interest in doing another film with his character, Aaron Cross, there are no set plans yet.
“I know they want to continue Aaron Cross some more. The hows and whens and whys of that, I do not know,” Renner said. “I think ‘Avengers’ 3 and 4 are rearing for me. So who knows, timewise, what will happen? Would I love to do another ‘Bourne’ one? Yes, absolutely. I love that world and that character.”
Not that Renner will be twiddling his thumbs without the work. Beside starring in any upcoming “Avengers” sequels and possibly making a cameo in “Captain America: Civil War,” he has signed on to the sci-fi thriller “Story of Your Life” with Amy Adams, set to film this summer. And then there are the films he is producing through his company The Combine. One of the biggest upcoming is “The Founder,” about the man behind McDonald’s, Ray Kroc. Michael Keaton, fresh off his best-actor Golden Globe win for “Birdman,” will star as Kroc.
“We’re very, very happy that’s all come together. I’m a big fan of Michael Keaton and (‘The Blind Side’ director) John Lee Hancock. And again, that’s another movie I don’t have to be in. I can just produce, which is exciting to me,” he said. “My job is to surround all the creatives with even more creative creatives and make it the best possible. They can run off and hopefully make something great. It’s a terrific world.”
The Combine has branched into television, too. In March, it was announced that Renner’s company had teamed with the History channel to create the new series “Knightfall,” about the Knights Templar. The scripted series will be about the events leading up to the knights’ mass arrest and persecution on Friday, Oct. 13, 1307. That historical event led to the current superstitions surrounding Friday the 13th.
This is Renner’s second project with History. Last year, he narrated the channel’s documentary miniseries “The World Wars.” He said the quality of that work made him excited about reteaming with the network and the potential to make real-life events come alive.
“I’m a big fan of what History has been doing with a lot of their stuff. I remember when I was doing voiceovers for History channel and ‘The World Wars’ … I wished something like this was around when I was learning about American and world history,” he said. “It was so fascinating and a really entertaining way to watch and learn at the same time, rather than reading this history book that will put you to sleep half the time and is very confusing. I had to stop halfway through and be like, ‘That really happened?’”
But with the “Age of Ultron” approaching, Renner returns firmly in the world of make-believe as he takes part in the worldwide press tour for the film. The actor has attended premieres in Los Angeles and London, appeared on “Good Morning America” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and earlier this week even rang the New York Stock Exchange opening bell with cast mates.
Renner said that kind of all-out media blitz comes with the territory.
“I don’t have to psych myself up for it. I’m really excited for this movie to come out. When you have such a giant fan base, you kind of get amped up pretty easy,” he said. “It’s a full-on event. It’s a really fun thing to do. Of course, it can get exhausting because you’re going all around. It can take a toll on you. But it’s a wonderful exchange of energy.”
That toll was evident last week when Renner and co-star Evans jokingly disparaged the character of Black Widow during an on-camera interview. The comments caused a backlash among some fans, and the two actors have since issued an apology.
Through it all, Renner, who filed for divorce from his wife of 10 months, Sonni Pacheco, late last year, has managed for the most part to keeps his personal life out of public view. But he has shared his joy about his 2-year-old daughter, Ava Berlin, on his Twitter account.
He said part of the reason for creating The Combine and doing more production projects is to spend more time with her.
“I’m kind of looking to take the workload down so I’m not gone constantly, so, again, I can be with the No. 1 person in my life, which is my baby,” he said. “That’s the main reason for having the company. … I get more time with my daughter.”
With most of his Modesto family now living in the Los Angeles area, Renner said he doesn’t have much occasion to travel back to the Central Valley. In fact, he is now based in Lake Tahoe, where his family spent time while he was growing up. But he does want to instill some of the foundations he had growing up in Modesto on his daughter.
“Well, I think, I grew up with a lot of nature. That was always a great grounding source and grounding line for me growing up, and still is today. I think that’s the influence I had in Modesto – mind you, that was in the ’70s, and it was a different Modesto. But I try to keep her life pretty simple. We go on pine cone hunts, and I try to give her an appreciation for nature,” he said. “I’ll do my best to give her opportunities to see some of the experiences I had in life when I was younger, growing up in Modesto.”