By Linda Barnard
Jeremy Renner has finally landed a role in a movie his whole family back in Modesto, Calif., can see.
The 40-year-old actor, who was relatively unknown outside movie-savvy circles before his Oscar-nominated role in 2008’s The Hurt Locker, followed by another Academy nod for The Town, co-stars in the spy thriller Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol. It opens Friday.
“You know what the Mission movies are . . . it’s a little bit lighter fare, which is nice because my family — younger kids, brothers and a sister — can actually go see a movie I’ve done, which is kind of cool,” said Renner on the phone from Los Angeles. “Some of the stuff I have done has been a little bit heavy and not appropriate for them to see and this is a fun ride.”
Renner plays uptight analyst Agent William Brandt, a desk jockey who is suddenly thrown into the IMF mix in the latest instalment in the action series. Tom Cruise returns as team leader Ethan Hunt, as the story moves to Dubai and the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. The soaring glass building’s attributes are shown off to maximum skill with Canadian-created IMAX cameras being used to shoot about 20 minutes of the film.
“It is the most immersive form of celluloid you can get. I think it crushes 3-D,” said Renner, adding while the camera equipment is bulky and loud, it’s worth the extra trouble. “It’s difficult to shoot, but boy is it beautiful when it comes on the screen. Nothing brings you in more.”
I mentioned a few of us experienced tummy flips when a few Toronto critics where shown 20 minutes of Ghost Protocol recently, as the IMAX camera swoops up and over the building.
“Welcome to the club,” Renner laughed. But there was no room for fear of heights on this shoot. He and the rest of the cast worked on the 123rd floor of the Burj — with the windows removed to allow Cruise to perform a series of stunts, including “running” down the glass face of the skyscraper.
“The only time he (Cruise) had to be serious at all was when he was doing those stunts. Some things require a lot of focus and he has to get the job done. But if he wasn’t in some life-threatening stunt he was as gregarious and lighthearted and goofball as we all are.”
There are also some laughs to help cut the tension in this Mission, thanks to British comic actor Simon Pegg, who returns as IMF technician Benji Dunn. He and Renner’s characters often play off each other.
“When you get to work with Simon Pegg, he’s a comic genius and one of the most lovable humans around,” said Renner. There’s pride in his voice when he describes shooting a scene where Dunn prepares Brandt for his leap into a gigantic oven-hot computer that had director Brad Bird (The Incredibles) chuckling.
“If you can make Brad Bird giggle, it’s dead on,” said Renner. “I think Brad had a lot of fun shooting that and I think we had two takes and we knocked it out.”
Renner has a busy year ahead. In March, he’ll be seen in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, a new twist on the old fairy tale. Then he’s Hawkeye in Joss Whedon’s mega-hero actioner The Avengers in May, followed by a stake in the successful Bourne films, taking over from Matt Damon, who has quit the series. He’ll play Alan Cross in The Bourne Legacy, not Jason Bourne, Renner stresses. It’s due out in August.
Renner may have been a late bloomer in Hollywood but he’s happily making up for lost time. “I am prepared as much as I can be for anything that comes my way,” he said cheerfully.
“I’m ready for employment, unemployment, life, death. I think I’m prepared for it. And if all else fails, I make a mean chicken sandwich.”
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