Jeremy Renner on Hawkeye’s role in Avengers: Infinity War, the Weinstein problem, and why he is ‘not focusing on new work’
US actor, 46, was a talent ambassador for the second International Film Festival and Awards in Macau. His involvement in blockbuster franchises has brought him to Asia regularly – but his Mandarin still needs working on
“A haircut is a haircut”, Jeremy Renner says with a shrug. Arriving fresh from the set of Avengers 4, the two-time Oscar-nominated American actor is sporting a bold mohawk that suggests a new look for Hawkeye, the world-class archer he portrays in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, alongside superheroes Iron Man and Captain America.
“Sometimes I get a choice in the matter, and sometimes …” he shrugs again, gesturing towards his closely shaved temples. Renner, 46, was chatting with the Post in an interview in Macau, where he served as a talent ambassador for the second International Film Festival and Awards Macao.
As we speak, the first trailer for Avengers: Infinity War has just hit the internet. The film brings together the likes of Thor, Doctor Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time, but Hawkeye is nowhere to be seen. While we know Renner does feature in the film, his absence from the two-minute promo has ignited speculation that his character’s days may be numbered.
“I don’t pay attention to that sort of stuff,” he says dismissively. “I was just excited that we got a trailer together and it’s coming out – that is a pretty killer trailer.”
Not that he could tell us more. It has become routine for cast and crew on blockbusters of this scale to be sworn to secrecy ahead of a film’s release, legally prohibited from discussing anything about the film they are supposed to be promoting.
“It’s difficult, because you want to speak about the movie but you can’t. There’s a lot of superheroes in it,” Renner says with a chuckle. “And it’s gonna be big and it’s gonna be awesome. But I can’t really talk about the movie.”
Diehard fans in some corners of the online community have also suggested that Clint Barton, Hawkeye’s alter ego, may adopt a new persona, that of wandering warrior Ronin. “I can’t get into the theories … I know [Ronin] is in the comics, but otherwise I don’t really know anything about that stuff,” he says.
Avengers: Infinity War is due to hit cinemas in May 2018, and marks Renner’s fifth appearance in a Marvel film. He effortlessly brushes aside my persistent questioning but does offer one vague tidbit for the super-fans. “We’re doing a lot of really wondrous things that I’ve always wanted to do with this character … I think everyone will be very pleased when they find out what happens.”
Renner’s involvement in blockbuster franchises such as The Avengers and Mission: Impossible has indeed brought him to Asia a number of times, and he seems excited about the possibility of working in the region.
“I came here for the first time to visit Beijing to promote Avengers 1 – and from that point on I figured there’s a lot of amazing opportunities. Maybe we can start doing films together, co-productions and things like that. My Cantonese is absolute crap.” He probably means to say Mandarin, but we’ll let that slide. “It’s a very difficult language, but I should start to learn it to make things move a little faster.”
In recent years, Renner has branched out into film production, launching The Combine with long-time friend and fellow actor Don Handfield with a focus on grounded, character-based projects. They produced 2014’s Kill the Messenger , with Renner in the lead, as well as last year’s The Founder , in which Michael Keaton portrayed McDonald’s mogul Ray Kroc.
That project was kick-started by uber-producer Harvey Weinstein, who was also involved in this year’s Wind River , in which Renner appears alongside his Marvel co-star Elizabeth Olsen.
Why Wind River director Taylor Sheridan – writer of Sicario and Hell or High Water – penned Native American murder mystery
Directed by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Taylor Sheridan ( Hell or High Water ), Wind River details the plight of Native American women in reservation communities, and was financed by the local tribes depicted in the film.
When sexual harassment allegations were filed against Weinstein earlier this year, Sheridan, Renner and the film’s backers scrambled to distance themselves from the disgraced mogul.
“The film is about bringing awareness to indigenous women and the treatment of them,” says Renner, “and the things that happened with Weinstein were sort of ironic because it’s the exact opposite of what we are talking about. But the tribes were able to buy the movie back and now we’re able to share it with audiences. It’s probably one of the most important and special movies I’ve ever done.”
This kind of actionable response is how Renner has chosen to deal with Hollywood’s current climate of gender inequality. He is keen to cite his involvement in last year’s science fiction drama Arrival as an example of his efforts. “It was not a part that probably I would be good for, but it was a great role for Amy Adams, a very good friend of mine,” he says of the film’s leading part.
The pair have been close friends since meeting in a karaoke bar back in 1998, when they were both struggling, unknown actors. “She is a superhero because of her brain, because of her compassion, because of her heart, her mind,” he says of Adams.
Arrival also gave Renner the opportunity to work with Denis Villeneuve, director of this year’s Blade Runner 2049 . “He’s kind of like [if] Kubrick and Spielberg had a baby. He can direct the phone book and it’d be captivating. He’s just a wonderful man,” says the actor.
“Right now I’m not focusing on new work” is a sentiment Renner expresses on more than one occasion during our interview. He has a four-year-old daughter to take care of, as well as a home renovation business every bit as successful as his film career. Somehow, he frequently gives the impression he’d be equally happy doing up houses as being a Hollywood star.
“As much as I love some of these big movies that take you all around the planet, you’re on the road like a travelling band and it gets a little unsettling after so many years of it,” he says.
Renner’s immediate future shows no end to his superhero roles, as well as a steady stream of smaller projects he is developing, including a long-gestating Steve McQueen biopic. “That’s a character I’ve wanted to play for a long time,” he enthuses.
But otherwise, Renner seems determined to take some time off – at least, perhaps, until Marvel comes calling with a stand-alone Hawkeye movie. “It would be a wonderful thing,” he says. “Just don’t wait too long! I don’t want to be in my 50s in tights.”
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