December 11, 2011 -- Hard Work Pays Off for Jeremy Renner in Bourne Series, "Avengers" (

Jeremy Renner, who recently filmed three action-packed movies, is talking about the physical demands of those roles.

“I got injured on all of them, somehow, someway,” says the 40-year-old actor with the intense, alluring stare. “But I feel like if you don’t get hurt, if you’re not bleeding, you’re not working hard enough.”

Renner’s work ethic is hardly in doubt. Beginning with Friday’s limited IMAX release, audiences will get to watch him as Agent William Brandt in “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol.” The film opens wide Dec. 21.

Next year, he’ll be seen in “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,” a project that involved him “getting beat up constantly,” and “The Avengers,” the Marvel superhero extravaganza that required him to learn how to handle a bow and arrow as Hawkeye.

And now he’s in the process of making his fourth action epic, “The Bourne Legacy.” While he won’t be taking over the role of Jason Bourne, he’s replacing Matt Damon as the new leading man of the franchise.

“I don’t think I’m getting as beat up on ‘Bourne,’ ” Renner says genially. “But certainly, because of these last three movies I’m in good enough shape to be able to perform what’s required of me.”

“Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” is the fourth installment of the action-adventure series starring Tom Cruise as daring superspy Ethan Hunt. This time, Hunt and the IMF are disavowed after being blamed for a terrorist bombing of the Kremlin and it’s up to Hunt to work with a small band of fellow IMF outcasts to restore the agency’s reputation and stop more mayhem from happening.

The movie is stirring fresh interest in the familiar series, in part because it’s Brad Bird’s debut as a live-action director. He’s known for helming the dazzling animated hits “Ratatouille” and “The Incredibles.”

The eclectic cast should also provide a jolt of energy, with Cruise being joined by Renner, Simon Pegg (“Shaun of the Dead”), Paula Patton (“Jumping the Broom”), Josh Holloway (“Lost”) and Anil Kapoor (“Slumdog Millionaire”).

Already, breathtaking scenes from the movie are generating anticipation, especially the one in which Cruise’s character must climb around the outside of the world’s tallest building, the 2,700-feet-plus Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

The elaborately constructed stunt, which required months of training and rehearsing, put Cruise in a form-fitting harness attached to a special cable system.

Renner had to briefly hang out of the building for the sequence, which was scary enough.

“Even knowing that Tom was running all over and climbing up and down the thing, it was still just terrifying for me just to hang outside of there and grab onto his foot,” he says.

But it was a wonderful experience, too, according to Renner, who has the perspective of someone who doesn’t take his newfound success for granted. “Who ever will get that opportunity, to hang outside the tallest building in the world? That’s not a ticket you can buy.”

Renner spent more than 15 years appearing in TV movies, small independent films and even a Pink video before experiencing the fame that arrived when he was nominated as best actor for 2008′s “The Hurt Locker.” In recent magazine interviews, he’s talked candidly about times when his food budget was a few dollars a week.

The survivor mentality is so ingrained in Renner that he doesn’t remember the moment that he realized he was financially secure. “There’s always that slight sort of fear that I’ve had, because I’ve been so used to surviving,” he says. “It’s probably not only until recently that I feel that when I sit down to a dinner, I can treat my friends and not worry about it. That’s a lovely thing.”

Renner says he’s dealing with all of his new opportunities — and duties like promoting his movies — by staying in the moment and focusing on the task before him. “I have to live 10 minutes at a time, but that’s how I cope,” he says, describing a day full of interviews.

He shrugs off a question regarding U.S. House Republicans using a scene from the gritty 2010 crime drama “The Town” as motivation during the debt-limit debate in Congress. The scene involved Ben Affleck asking Renner’s volatile but loyal character for help in hurting some people, and requesting that Renner not ask why. Renner quickly replies: “Whose car are we gonna take?”

“I don’t really pay attention too much to the media, the blogging and all that stuff,” he says, casually but thoughtfully. “I can’t. I pay attention to what I do have control of.”

Renner compares the celebrity spotlight to a bigger version of ordinary life in California. “I come from a very small town where everybody talks about everybody. Now I just feel like I’m in a small city or a small world where people are free to do and say what they please, and sometimes it’s about you.”

There was a certain serendipity to Renner being cast in “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol.” While meeting with J.J. Abrams about another project, the “Super 8″ director asked him if he wanted to meet with Cruise about the new “Mission: Impossible.” Abrams directed 2006′s “Mission: Impossible 3″ and is a producer on this one.

A meeting with Cruise and Bird ensued almost immediately. Renner describes being in the room with the superstar and the director, talking about the project. “You know, all of a sudden their voices kind of disappear, and their mouths are moving and I was thinking, like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m in here.”

The whole experience was a little surreal, Renner admits. “Things like that don’t happen too often, at least not to guys like me.”

Renner had another memorable moment last year when he joined Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo and the rest of the “Avengers” cast onstage at a Comic-Con International event.

“I’m not used to being in front of thousands and thousands of people screaming at you, whether they’re screaming obscenities or lovely cheers. You kind of feel like you’re a rock star or something.”

Renner welcomes all sorts of possibilities for future work, from big-budget movies to small films. But he admits it is nice to be in a movie like “Mission: Impossible,” for an obvious reason.

“If you’re going to be in a ‘Mission: Impossible’ movie, people are going to see it, and on a world stage. It’s kind of cool knowing your movie’s going to be received somehow, to get eyes on it. Most of the movies I’ve done, there’s been no guarantee at all.”


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