December 20, 2011 -- Jeremy Renner Gets Into the Action (


Somewhere between his two Academy Award nominations — for 2008's The Hurt Locker and 2010's The Town— Jeremy Renner had a realization.

"Now there is more awareness of me publicly and in the industry. More opportunities, better opportunities. You have to wait for a big star to come in and generate interest on a project, and now that has become me, which is an amazing blessing," says Renner, calling from Calgary, Alberta, where he's shooting The Bourne Legacy.

Over the past three years, Renner, 40, has gone from that guy who looks sort of familiar to movie star. His latest release puts him firmly in the major leagues: Renner plays intelligence analyst William Brandt in Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, opposite Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt. In the action spectacular, the agents go rogue to clear their name after being implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin.

What Renner took away from the experience can be summed up in two words: Tom Cruise.

"Someone who's that big a movie star turned out to be a nice human being. That's always a nice bonus. And how hard he works. It's inspiring, and it pushed me to want to be better. A lot of actors I've seen, 20 years in, they hang out in their trailer and mosey out 25 minutes later. They're late to work. I hate that. I hate that," he says. "Tom is up two hours early, training, working out. I can't believe how much he gets done in a day."

Renner, too, has been working non-stop for the past three years. Now, he's ready to savor it a little.

"The last 18 months — I had my head down, just working away, jumping from one set to another. I forgot that there's output to all the work. Oh, my God, that's so exciting.

"That's when it starts to become sort of surreal. I'm not a result-oriented kind of guy. I just go do the work every day."