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Interview with Jeremy Renner (Home Business Magazine)

On His Little Girl, His Work Ethic, Filming with Directors, as Well as His Milestones, Boundaries, Image and Success Over the Years.

Two-time Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner co-stars with Amy Adams in the new science fiction film Arrival. Renner plays mathematician Ian Donnelly, who is assigned the task to decipher codes from a UFO that landed on Earth.  Now, with a 3-year-old back home, he chooses his movies wisely.  He talks about his success over the years.

Question (Q): How much research did you have to do to play a scientist in Arrival?  When you were in college, you seemed to be kind of destined for a more scientifc career?

Jeremy Renner (JR): Yeah, computer science -- it's my only connection.  I loved astrology and all of these things when I was a kid.  I was good at science in school.  In college, I did study Pascal, DOS, and other computer languages, which is the only thing even close to what this guy knows.  This guy I play, Ian, is a mathematican physicist, and we referenced this giant fifteen hundred-page book a lot using the theorems and the ideas of language through mathematics and physics.  The real challenge was to take these sorts of ideas and get to a point where I could understand them so that I could get the audience to understand them.

Q: Was there ever a time where you thought, "I wished I would have become a stock broker using all my rational skills as opposed to becoming an actor," because it would have been so much easier?

JR: No, never once.  I used all sorts of rational skills to get me through those difficult times knowing that the artist's plight is very volatile and fragile.  All of my left brain stuff -- my business mind and science mind -- allows me to find practicality with all of these emotions.  It balanced out well with getting through difficult times as an artist.

 

Q: So when did you know that it was going to work, that you were going to be able to make a go of it?

JR: I feel like there were a lot of indications and milestones taht personally gave me confidence and recognition to continue.  I gave myself eleven years to get myself to a certain place.  I laid out three specific things that I wanted in eleven years, and I got them in the first year and a half, so now I have to calibrate a new set of goals and things to strive for.

Q: You've played characters that maybe more conscious actors wouldn't play.  Does that matter to you?  Your image?

JR: No, image has nothing to do with human emotion or human condition.  It has very little to do wit the exterior.  It's all about the interior and the output of how we think and feel, not about how we look.

Q: So when I said image, I meant the fact that some are building an image of whom they are as an actor.  You seem prepared to go to certain dark places.

JR: Yeah, my first job was a silly lampoon comedy.  Right?  A lot of people don't know that I did comedy for a long time.  That was my deal, from commercials or whatever.  It became sort of part of me understanding myself, that I am courageous enough to go to any place that is required to speak the truth and to challenge myself to challenge material.  I don't care what people think, I don't care what people want.  I went to the truth of what it was that I was supposed to do.  It's a canvas, it's time to go paint.  It's a piece of clay, it's time to go sculpt -- whatever the heck it was.  I had no fears or obstacles in the way of me getting to whatever the heck that was.  I am happy to be wrong.  I am happy to be right.  I just want to output something and challenge the material.  Like I said, it could be canvas, a piece of clay, a piece of film, or a guitar and a song -- whatever it was, let's challenge it, let's stretch it. Let's be wrong.

Q: Would you call your favorite directors and tell them that you would want to work with them?

JR: No, I would say the exact opposite.  I'd say it's my relationships with the people I love that determine which directors I work with -- that's how I roll.  I know I'm not calling a director going, "Hey when are we doing another movie?"  But 99% of the filmmakers that I've worked with, I would work with again in two seconds.

Q: So what are you limits and boundaries?

JR: The limitations and boundaries are not ultimately because of a filmmaker or because of material.  Now, because I have a child, it's all about where it is shooting.  For me, that's what it is.  First of all, it's still got to be great, got to have a great filmmaker, got to have great content.  I still have to be challenged by the material.  Who am I going to work with and learn from?  And now, where is it shooting?  Because normally, I didn't care.  I was like, "Iceland, amazing!  I get to go wherever."  Now, that's the last place I want to go, because it's far away from my child.  Now, at forty-five years old with a child -- the most important thing in my life -- I'm like, "Where is it shooting?"  This is so I can make sure that I can get to my child and my job can get to me in a reasonable flight time.

Q: Going back to the film Arrival, has this production changed your alien life in some way?  Do you believe in aliens?

JR: Aliens?  Yeah I always have to.  Again, I've been looking at the stars for a very long time in my life.  People shoudl understand, that they are all potential suns.  Some could have burned out a long time ago.  There are a lot of opportunities.  The odds are, I'm not saying that there's a big show, it can be what we define life to be.  Is there life out there?  In my mind, absolutely.  It doesn't mean it's in this way, shape, or form.  How human beings perceive aliens and the big guy -- you know our own limitations.  As humans, we need oxygen, we need water, and we need sun to exist.  These are our limitations on our planet, right?  If we don't have those things, we are all dead.  Somewhere else, maybe aliens exist with no light, and on poison, or who knows?  That's how their lives are with their limitations.  Do I believe in other life out there?  Absolutely.

Q: How do you react to an unexpected challenge?  For example, on the set of a new television series and the background went down and you go totally nuts and say, "Oh my God."

JR: Problem solve, problem solve, problem solve and problem solve.  Instantly, everything.  That's all you got to do is problem solve.  I don't just react to one thing.  If someone slaps me in the face, I'm like, "Okay."  I got decisions to make.  You know what I mean?  Alright, my zipper is down.  I got a flat tire.  Okay, what's the solution?  Otherwise, I can sit and be crying on the side of the street with my thumb in my mouth and cry.  Okay, nothing gets done.  What else? What's the problem?  How do you problem solve?  That's all I think about.

Q: Is the Bourne sequel still going on, now that Matt Damon is back?

JR: I have no idea.  I wish I had.  It's above my pay grade.  Those aren't decisions that I get to make.

Source: Lex Martin at Home Business Magazine.  Scans of the hard copy article can be found in our gallery.

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