- The Lunch with L.A. Weekly Chief Film Critic Amy Nicholson: Tom Cruise, ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ and ‘Snowpiercer’
- The Lunch with Director William Eubank of ‘The Signal’
- The Lunch with Gillian Robespierre, director, ‘Obvious Child’
- The Lunch with Alex Pappademas of Grantland.com on ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past …’
- The Lunch with AJ Bowen of ‘The Sacrament’
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Tag Archives: Jeremy Renner
As the two most human members of The Avengers – super-spy Black Widow and master marksman Hawkeye – Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner play some of the more relatable characters on-screen among the super-soldiers and techno-titans and space-gods making up the rest of the team. We spoke with the two in Los Angeles about jumping to blockbuster territory, occasional confusion induced by the vastness of it all and what super-cool jobs they’d like to play on-screen next.
I and a lot of the audience have had a chance to know you from great indie films like “Lost in Translation” or “Girl with the Pearl Earring” or “Twelve and Holding” and “The Hurt Locker,” but now you’re in all of this muchness. What’s that like? How’s it different, and how is it the same?
Jeremy Renner: People go see this.
Scarlett Johansson: Yeah, essentially it’s the box office draw. Kids can see this movie. I think it’s funny. You think you’re a part of something, and you read the script and you’re like, “Whoa, this is massive.” Actually, when we’re on set and we’re shooting, other than the sets, it doesn’t feel really huge, unless you’re doing a scene where all of us are together and we’re there in the scene all against Loki. All of sudden you notice that everyone from Marvel is there, and they brought their kids, and the set is full of people. Everyone just has this excitement on set, and that’s when you’re like “Whoa, this is big.” You can kind of feel the weight of it.
With its trailer blaring Eminem and hyper-cutting explosions, falls, car crashes and punches, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol (hereafter M:I IV, because, come on) felt like an implicit promise to the viewer: Come out to the theater, we’ll spend a little time, have a few laughs. What’s interesting about Brad Bird’s live-action debut — coming as it does in the 4th installment of a 15-year-old franchise that’s cherry-picked great, or at the very least intriguing, directing talent from the past 5 decades — is the seeming modesty of it all. At no point do our heroes (Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner) wind up assaulting a hollowed-out volcano full of jumpsuit-clad minions; the final battle between Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and under-written bad guy Hendricks (Michael Nykvist) occurs not in a gleaming white room with shark tanks and lasers but instead a parking garage.
It’s hard to say what part of that is from the post-Bond spy action school of thought; historically, 9/11 is a real tragedy, but on a cultural level, it’s not untrue or unkind to suggest that Osama Bin Laden killed Blofeld more thoroughly than James Bond ever could. At the same time, so much of M:I IV is taken from that Bond-era playbook — like, for example, the “Let me provoke a war between the superpowers” plot, which creates an air of Cold War-era menace that has a bracing nip of nostalgic joy to it.
So strong is the identification between Jon Hamm and Don Draper, the character he plays on AMC’s “Mad Men,” that as I walked into the room to speak with him, I briefly expected to be offered a glass of scotch and yelled at about the Samsonite pitch.
But Hamm isn’t Draper, and he explained exactly how he dug in to play an FBI field agent charged with stopping bank robberies in “The Town.” “I got to meet quite a few of the law enforcement officials in Boston,” he said. “It’s a very collaborative effort between the federal, state and local levels there. They are very much a task force. They are very, very good at their job. They solve way more crimes than they don’t solve. It was an honor to get to represent that in the film.”
On a lighter note, I observed that a lot of the time when we see Hamm’s character, he’s in sort of L.L. Bean outdoor wear, unshaven, in casual plaids. Was that a deliberate attempt to de-Draper Hamm a little? Hamm responded with bemusement: “Well, I think obviously you certainly don’t want to reference Mr. Draper. But the fact that this is a modern contemporary-set piece is probably enough; I don’t think there was an active attempt to ‘de-Draper.'”
I also asked Hamm if doing the film’s run-and-gun action work — especially in the finale, as his character tries to stop Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner‘s bold robbery at Fenway Park — got his adrenaline going. “It’s very exciting,” he said. “Especially when the backdrop is Fenway Park. It’s tremendously fun. It’s the kind of thing you want to do when you sign up to be an actor. You get to do certain fun things — this is one of those things.”
And while Hamm is a fan of the movies Affleck cited as an inspiration, he didn’t get an assigned viewing list from Affleck. “I know he’s referenced ‘Gomorra’ and ‘The French Connection’ and several other things,” Hamm said. “I certainly am a big fan of movies that I think this is inspired by, whether it’s ‘Heat’ or (a general) sort of ’70s crime getaway heist chase film, but, no, we did not get a laundry list to go down.”
Finally, I asked Hamm if after upholding the law in “The Town,” he might think about mixing it up and playing a criminal in any future film after watching the fun Affleck and Renner got to have. “We’ll see,” he said. “I think the good thing about the film was Ben’s character — (Affleck) plays a bad guy and yet we rooted for him. So sometimes you can play, as I do on (‘Mad Men’), characters that are not necessarily the good guys — but you still root for them. We’ll see what the world brings me.”
Actor Jeremy Renner has nothing but fond memories of the Toronto International Film Festival — and plenty of them. “I remember in 2005 I had three movies here: ‘North Country,’ it was ‘Twelve and Holding,’ and ‘Lords of Dogtown.’ (In 2009), we came here with ‘Hurt Locker‘ and got acquired here, which was great. That’s what’s great about Toronto Film Festival, what separates it from a lot of film festivals. To me, it’s the biggest one — the only one — to really go get your film acquired. It’s a great platform at the right time of year to springboard your movie, to get people excited about it or not excited about it if it’s not good, to get early reactions or things like that. It’s turned out really well for us with ‘The Town,’ and I love being here. The only drawback for me coming to Toronto with a movie is that I don’t get to see all the great movies that are here.”
And while Renner enjoyed playing a Boston bank robber for Affleck, he also explained how it was a strange new world. “It’s so foreign to me, right? I’m from California; I’ve never been to Boston. I knew nothing about Charlestown. The accent intimidated me so much. To realize that bank robbery is an occupation and someone’s job is kind of strange, but that’s what so alluring to me about it. I learned a lot about the ins and outs of robbing a bank. But more importantly, I was focused more on the character. It wasn’t like ‘The Hurt Locker,’ where I got pretty good at dismantling bombs — which I still would never do anyway — but I wouldn’t go rob a bank and think I know what I was doing. I know way less than I probably should, but I had so much to tackle in preparing for the role.”
Renner’s slated to star in the upcoming “Mission: Impossible 4” alongside Tom Cruise as a spy and in Joss Whedon‘s Marvel comic-book film “The Avengers” as the super-skilled archer Hawkeye. I asked Renner if, as exciting as those kinds of big movies are in terms of adrenaline and profile, he’s cautious about making sure he still has time for the smaller films and more complex performances that built his career to the point where he could wind up in popcorn fare. “Absolutely,” he said. “I would be remiss if I didn’t stick true to what I feel like I’m good at: human condition and human behavior. Whatever story that lies in, I will never abandon that idea. I’ll work on any movies the same. It’s just that (‘Mission: Impossible 4’and ‘The Avengers’) would be a little more geared towards … something else. The movie’s sort of the star, you kind of fill in, do your thing. There’s a handful of movies I’m looking at with tremendous talent and directors that I can’t wait to learn from, and now I have to think about making space, as you say, for those things. They’re the most important to me.”