Jeremy Renner has been mighty busy of late: Already a two-time Oscar nominee for 2008 Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker and 2010's The Town, the 41-year-old actor most recently costarred in Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol and was the purple people shooter Hawkeye in one of the biggest movies of all time, The Avengers. Now Renner has trained his crosshairs on yet another fan-beloved franchise, the Bourne series.
But he's not riding shotgun on this one. He picks up where Matt Damon left off in a series he hallmarked, starring as a new special agent alongside a new cast of morally ambiguous characters -- and a new director calling the shots.
Renner came through Dallas to promote The Bourne Legacy, so we asked him some questions.
Tony Gilroy wrote all four Bourne films. But for Legacy he stepped behind the camera to direct. What was it like having the biggest Bourneophile running the show? Ah, it was amazing. He's an endless resource for information. From a different perspective, of course. I myself was a already huge fan of the franchise and what Matt had done with his character.
But to have him as a director, being able to just weave Ultimatum and Legacy together - that's really the high concept here in this film that continues the franchise. And on a basic level, it's great to have the writer be the director. So if there's any adjustments, he just comes up with something like that because of all that information about these characters and this world that he can dial into.
This is a new concept for Bourne, and fans have gotten used to its particular brand of storytelling. How do you make your own mark while staying faithful to what audiences love about it? That was the easy part because I'm a fan as much as anyone else. With Tony and I and everyone else involved, that's who we made the film for. Inherently, when you make a film for the fans, as long as you don't get to heady about it and you still make a great action movie with really great, fleshed out characters, it'll work. So if you never saw the first three movies, this movie will still play wonderfully. It has a brand new canvas and a brand new set of characters. But if you have seen them, you get to see how it ties in brilliantly with the others.
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One of the signatures of the Bourne series is makeshift weapons. We've seen Jason Bourne use everything from a magazine to a pen as a weapon. Your character, Aaron Cross, gets his own MacGyver-esque moment as well. So cool, man. And what I love about those moments is they elevate the action, when you can see thought and problem solving in the middle of action without being corny or cheesy. Just plausible. It's something I worked on a lot when it came to those action sequences. I started to come up with my own solutions and thinking "Why would this happen because wouldn't I have already known this, this, this and this?" So there's always logic as a barometer for anything physical.
What kind of training do you do? Everything you saw in the movie, I did it. Most of the physical stunt pieces you can rehearse ... And you gotta realize, I went straight from Mission: Impossible IV into The Avengers into this so I had quite a bit of training on all sorts of styles at that point. What I really had to train and prepare for on Bourne was the fighting. That can't be faked. Or replaced with a stuntman. Or CGI. It's important for the audience to see that it's me doing it. So I had to be able to do it. And I worked diligently on that. But don't get me wrong, with everything I was prepared for, you still have to actually go in and do it and it's still a great challenge.
There's an impressive ensemble of actors in the suporting roles here. Yeah, man. People like Edward Norton and Rachel Weisz and Oscar Issac: They make your job so easy. They just bring a basket full of interesting ideas. I got to work with Rachel the most, which was great because I've been trying to work with her a long time. And we finally got to on this one and it was everything and more that I thought it was going to be.
Legacy is the first film not based on a book written by Robert Ludlum. Do you think it's possible that your character and Bourne will ever cross paths? I'm not sure what the creatives have planned. I know I'd love to continue. What's exciting to me is just that ... the possibilities of these two worlds colliding. It's Godzilla vs. King Kong. Or are they together, on the same side? There's loads and loads of possibilities and new ideas created in Legacy and, again, that to me is the most exciting thing about this film. That they were able to continue what was already great and I know it will satisfy a lot of people that love the Bourne franchise. And at the end of The Bourne Legacy you see where it could go is wide open. My biggest hope is for people to walk out wondering and caring and excited for what's going to happen next and have their own ideas about it. That would be the biggest compliment to me.