December 20, 2011 -- Jeremy Renner Talks Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Steve McQueen Biopic (

The fridge is full of sprouts, the pine needles are piling up around the tree, and the once chocolate-packed advent calendar is now nearly empty.

It can mean only one thing. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is nearly upon us.

Recently we got a chance to speak to Jeremy Renner, one of very few actors who can hold his own in an action film with Tom Cruise, and a man who is carving out his own, pretty comfortable niche as the thinking man’s action hero.


On being cast in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

I was meeting with JJ for Super 8, and really wanted to work with him, but didn’t feel in my heart that the part was there for me. I didn’t know how to grab on to it. I had to go talk to him about what a big fan I am of him as a human being, because he’s such a great guy, and then as a director, and then still say, I don’t think I can do the movie. Before I really open my mouth about it he says, ‘look, I want to hear what you think about the script and all these things, and blah, blah, blah. I’d love for you to do this movie but, what do you think about Mission: Impossible?’ I’m like, ‘well, they’re great movies. What about it?’, He’s like, ‘I’m producing another one. Tom brought it up. What do you think? Do you want to meet him?’, I’m like, ‘OK’, ‘When do you want to do it?’ ‘What are they doing now?’

So I went and met Tom and Brad Bird, the director, and [Bryan] Burk, one of the producers, and just sort of pitched the story idea. It was a very loose meeting, not unlike this in here in this room, and half the time I just saw their mouths moving, and thinking, ‘I can’t believe this is happening right now’, and Tom’s sitting there pitching me this movie, and why I should be in it, and then Brad Bird saying his idea. I didn’t really say anything, I said, ‘thank you for bringing me in, this is awesome. I appreciate it. Talk to you guys later. Peace out.’ I skipped out of there; I’m like ‘this is awesome’, then I went home.

Right when I got home, I’m sitting at the bar at home, and Tom Cruise calls me, which was also another surreal sort of thing. I wish it said ‘Tom Cruise’ on the caller ID. It’s a strange thing when Tom Cruise is calling your house saying, ‘Do you want to do this movie’. At that point, I’d made the decision because of things they said in the room, to do it. So I told Tom straight away, ‘there’s no reason not to do this’. I’m not normally a big fan of saying yes to a movie where there’s not a script yet, because I don’t know what I can bring, or have a take that might be interesting, that maybe they didn’t think of. I feel like I can’t really give you anything. So I’m just going on the Mission track record, which is amazing, and Brad Bird, who’s fantastic, and getting to work with Tom. So there was no reason to say no.


On the script evolving during principal photography

There’s a lot of changing, shifting, a lot of moving parts on this movie, especially with the script, which I wasn’t very familiar with. In JJ’s world, coming from the TV world, he’s able to manifest things like that very quickly and on the fly, not something that I’m used to. Tom was also used to it. So, a little terrifying, but I was trusting the director and Tom to keep the story strong and alive, and I just tried to do my part.

The massive set pieces in the movie were never going to change, like the Burj Khalifa, the Kremlin, all these sorts of things. There’s a strong outline for the movie from where I was standing. I think from their end as producers and writers, they had a lot of other intel that I wasn’t privy to. So when they’d get a script, they were hesitant of giving it out because they were making so many changes so fast. So we started shooting the big set pieces that weren’t going to change – Burj Khalifa was one month, and another month we’re in Prague and we’re shooting all this other stuff, so you just kind of have to entrust in the director and Tom, and him knowing the franchise so well, and I’ll do the best I can to serve the story and create a character there somehow.


On playing characters that offer humour is otherwise serious films

If I’m going to do comedy, or something funny, I’m glad it’s coming out of character truth or elevated circumstances – an everyman in unrealistic circumstances I suppose. It’s not being comfortable in that at all. I’m comfortable in the truth, comfortable in something that’s honest. That’s all that matters to me.


On the Steve McQueen Biopic he will be producing

I think it would be really interesting. I think he’s a fascinating character. There’s a script out there that was brought to my attention. I thought it was an amazing opportunity. I wasn’t a big fan of the script. If you’re going to do somebody so iconic I thought it was a little middle of the road, but when I met the director he had these images, and the images are the story I want to be a part of, that’s the guy I want to understand. Everybody knows Steve McQueen is the guy, the stunt guy, and jumping the fence, and all those famous stories. Let’s get to know him as a human, and what that’s like to be in his shoes. Let’s drag an audience into that world. That’s where we’re trying to go. James Gray is writing the script right now and I’m really anxious to read it. I’m supposed to get it in the next week or two, so kind of see where it’s at. If it all works out it’ll be an absolute treat to do. It’ll be a great challenge.