Jeremy Renner’s wikipedia page reads: “Is an American actor, singer-songwriter, film producer, former makeup artist, and musician”. Not bad for an Avenger, eh?
One thing that always struck me about Renner was that he “made it” very late. Guys as good as him, and as pretty as him, seem to come along way before they’re bordering on 40 years of age, but this guy slipped through the cracks… A lot of them it seems.
Since the mid-90s, Renner was a stop-start actor, fulfilling guest spots on TV shows, with relatively minor roles in mediocre movies coming as infrequently as his starring roles in independents like “Dahmer”, where he played Jeffrey Dahmer himself. So, when the surprise success story of the 2010 Academy Awards – The Hurt Locker – rocket-shipped him to superstardom, it was something that nobody saw coming. Case in point; he’d been a make-up artist for much of the previous decade, just to “make ends meet”, so props to him for forcing his way back through the cracks of the Hollywood talent pool, and truly into the limelight.
His role in The Hurt Locker was one that, for me, didn’t deserve the Academy Award he didn’t win. George Clooney’s performance in “Up In the Air” was better, plain and simple. As for Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart”… Let’s just say he won on a count of being due a “nod”. Even so, Renner was moving as the gritty and morally ambiguous bomb disposal expert and it was something that lit such a fire under him that he was soon announced as a new member of the developing Avengers storyline from Marvel Studios, but not before The Town (2010); the very best performance of Renner’s career.
Renner was nominated for the best supporting actor Academy Award for his role in The Town, making him a nominee in an actor category for two years in a row – 2010 & 2011. His role was not only key to the tensions of the movie, but the way he performed it was key to the critical success of the movie as a whole. He was dark, and yet again morally ambiguous, pushing the limits of his character through every scene. One thing that struck me was that he was able to portray the inner demons of his character with ultimate conviction, even in the scenes where he had a more happy demeanor. It was a truly film-stealing performance, but it was creating an issue regarding his being typecast, and Hollywood had a new celebrity to play with.
Following The Town, and his second successive Oscar nod, Renner took the reigns as side-kick to action movie juggernaut Tom Cruise in the incredibly successful Brad Bird imagining of the Mission Impossible franchise: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. He became a welcomed extra, and scenes of him stretching in a tight suit soon became internet sensations, adding to his already inflating star persona. This signaled a distinct change in Renner’s career direction as he moved on to the role of Hawkeye in The Avengers, the lead in the new Bourne movie – The Bourne Legacy – and a role in the American Hustle ensemble, while still working a relatively small schedule for such a big name. Perhaps this schedule of a couple of films per year was evidence of Renner “cashing in” on his fame and making money off his face while his face and body can still handle it… Especially with age definitely not being on his side. I wouldn’t blame him, it makes sense from a financial point of view and attaches him artistically to some of the most talented people around – it’s a win, win. What this change did with regard to my opinion of his ability is, it crowded my judgment and I came to see Renner as nothing more than the action movie side-kick with a star persona just big enough to make the big-league moneymakers of Hollywood. I forgot about the pure talent that rested under that and I can only assume that it has to come back to the table at some point. I, for one, feel like he has a point to prove in winning an Academy Award down the road.
The thing is, Jeremy Renner is an incredibly talented actor with some really good roles under his belt. He can be edgy and an incredible anti-hero given the right material and he’s proven that with two Academy Award nominations. As a personal fan of his deeper roles, I sure hope he’ll be back for a drama or two to come in the future.
Thanks for reading!