November 29, 2011 -- Jeremy Renner Talks James Gray's LOW LIFE, Says Steve McQueen Biopic Will Focus More on Personal Aspect Than on Stunts (

While he was in L.A. to do press for the release of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (in theaters December 16th in IMAX and December 21st on all other screens), Collider got the opportunity to participate in a roundtable with actor Jeremy Renner. Even though we’re holding that portion of the interview until the week of the film’s release, and we already posted what he had to say about his other upcoming franchise films, The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy, we also wanted to share what he had to say about a couple other projects he has on his slate.

In talking about what attracted him to the James Gray period drama Low Life, starring Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix, Renner said it was the opportunity to work with some of the best talent out there, playing a magician in the early 1900′s. He’s also involved in developing a Steve McQueen biopic, that’s more of an inside look at his life then a career retrospective. Check out what he had to say after the jump:


Question: What attracted you to the James Gray film, Low Life?

JEREMY RENNER: What a great opportunity. It’s an amazing story. It’s James Gray, Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix. That’s some of the best talent out there. It’s not an action movie, which at this point, from where I’m sitting, is a nice thing. I can actually take a break on my body and just focus on work and character. That’s refreshing. And, to work with that caliber of talent is really exciting. It’s a small role. It’s something I can shoot in a very short amount of time. There’s a pimp, a whore and a magician, and I get to play the magician, in a really cool, early 1900′s immigration movie about Ellis Island.


Is it important to you, to continue to do more independent projects, as well as the big films?

RENNER: Yeah, absolutely. I’ll never completely abandon the stage even, where I started. I’m actually trying to do that next year. I’ll see if I can manifest the energy to go and do that. It takes a lot out of you to do a stage play, but I’d love to do that. I’d love to continue to do challenging material, whatever shape or form that comes in. I want to not know the answer. I want to not do anything I’ve done before. That can come in any form. Now, it’s action movies, at this point. But, where it’s at after that, I don’t know. As long as it has the certain requirements for me to want to get up every morning and be happy to go to work, then I don’t care the size of the movie. I just care about who I get to learn from.


Do you have to be careful about the kinds of roles you take on, so that the roles aren’t similar and you aren’t typecast?

RENNER: I think that’s where real life and cinema blend for me. I like to play unpredictable characters, and I like to be unpredictable in what movie I’ll do. I want to skip to work. I don’t want to repeat anything. What the future holds, I don’t know, but that’s what I like. I’ll take any risk there is. I’m not concerned about what people think, or what they want. What matters to me is learning and growing, and getting to do what I love to do. As long as I can do that, I’m happy.


Other then him being the coolest human being who ever lived, what’s the appeal of launching a Steve McQueen biopic? Are you involved in developing that?

RENNER: Yeah, I’m involved in developing it. It’s happened because a script came around and they asked me if I wanted to look at it to potentially, maybe play him, and I thought, “Oh, that’s interesting.” Obviously, I loved his movies. I wouldn’t say I was a massive fan of him, by any means. I’ve seen probably three of his movies. But then, as it came around, I started to study him more and realized, “Wow, what a dichotomy of a human being.” He’s really, really interesting, outside of what most of us know him as. He’s the coolest human being who ever lived, but he’s also the most insecure guy who ever lived. He’s all these other things that undercut what we know him as. That was really interesting to me. I don’t care if that’s a fictitious character or a real person. That’s just interesting to me.

I felt like the script was just a retelling of what everybody already knows about him. I didn’t know a lot about him, but it was retelling the things I knew about him. I thought, “That’s really boring and doesn’t do him justice,” for what I ended up learning about him. So, that’s why we’re developing this thing, from these images that I saw. For instance, there’s a photo of him where a butcher in a shop is bandaging up his hand. The movie set is around the corner, and he was either just preparing to do a stunt or had just done a stunt, of the famous bike jump he did. Everybody knows about that stunt, so why talk about that? I want to know what that conversation was, between that butcher and McQueen, in that butcher shop. That’s more interesting to me. I think an inside look into his life, as a human being, could be fascinating. That’s what we’re exploring. James Gray is actually the one writing that.


So, it would be more of a personal look at him, rather then a careerist view?

RENNER: Yeah. You can’t avoid that, but I’d rather have that be the backdrop of his life. I’d like to see, “What is it like to walk into a room and everybody stares at you ‘cause they know exactly who you are?” Not a lot of people know what that feels like, so let’s let people into that world. I think that’s interesting. It will be that kind of take, hopefully.


Is that a daunting role to take on?

RENNER: I don’t know. I haven’t seen the script. I’m already imagining it to be almost impossible, but I’d love to take on the challenge. It would be an honor.