Jeremy Renner on ‘The Bourne Legacy’ and Preparing a Character

WRITER’S NOTE: This article was written back in 2012.

Jeremy Renner appeared at the AMC Century City on July 9, 2012 along with writer/director Tony Gilroy to talk about “The Bourne Legacy.” In addition, Renner also took time to answer questions regarding how he went about preparing to play Aaron Cross, and of his preparation for roles in general. His answers showed him to be an actor always looking to challenge himself constantly and to not get trapped in a comfort zone.

Renner has long since made a name for himself with his performances in “The Hurt Locker,” “The Town,” “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” and “The Avengers.” One person asked him which movie has required him to do the most training, and he said it was definitely “The Bourne Legacy.” Renner said this was because it required from him “a level of authenticity” the other movies did not ask of him, and that he “had to work diligently to make the fights look like I could actually do them.”

Another person quoted Renner as once saying he “makes himself uncomfortable” when he can and asked him if that has made all the difference in his life. Renner replied it makes all the difference and said it is about constantly challenging himself:

“It’s about not being complacent and not fall into the trappings of repeated behaviors and getting comfortable. As I’ve gotten older, if there are things I knew I don’t like, I would still go try them again just to make sure that I don’t like them.”

Unlike his previous movies which had him acting in a supporting role, “The Bourne Legacy” marks Renner’s first starring role in a big budget Hollywood movie. He did, however, make it clear that his preparation for this movie was no different than any other he has appeared in, and that it remains the same on each role plays. He did say, however, that his workout regimen has changed a lot from “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” to “The Bourne Legacy:”

“For ‘Mission’ I was really out of shape. I mean, I stretched for twenty minutes and that was my workout. And now I stretch for an hour and a half, fight for two hours, workout for an hour and a half, and then stretch for another hour and then go to work.”

For Renner, saying yes to “The Bourne Legacy” was actually very easy as he felt all the elements were fantastic and that he could not say no to it even if part of him wanted to. And while he may have graduated from indie films to big budget action movies, his mindset has not changed in the slightest as he compared making this sequel to movies he has done beforehand:

“For a big movie, it felt very tiny in the sense of it was not just the stunts but also the intimacy of really quiet scenes I feel I’d rather be doing as an actor. So, for me it had the balance of both; it felt like a little independent movie and a massive action movie, so I got both feels all in one.”

In answering what it was like to play Aaron Cross and how he would turn off the character at the day’s end, Renner’s response did not have any Hollywood ego in it at all:

“Oh, come on man! It’s something that’s not that far away in that we’re talking about every physical role here. I have to stick to the truth on page one to page whatever and just stick to the truths within that. There’s no turning it on or turning it off; I’m not some freak actor that way. This is a character that’s closer to me than say Jeffrey Dahmer (whom the actor played in the 2002 movie “Dahmer”), so it’s not something I have to completely lose myself in. It’s just part of my job, and I can’t explain my job.”

From this evening, we can see that Jeremy Renner is a very respectful actor who takes his craft very seriously, and he revels in his unexpected success and working with actors like Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton whom he resented for stealing so many interesting movie roles from him in the past. We look forward to what Renner has to give us not just in “The Bourne Legacy,” but in so many other performances he has yet to deliver.


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