EXCLUSIVE Jeremy Renner wore a silver ring on his finger at the press conference for his new political thriller, “Kill the Messenger,” which opens Oct. 10. The next day he announced to ABC News that he married the mother of his new baby girl.
Questions of a personal nature are discouraged by publicists at these dos and the ring didn’t look like a traditional wedding ring.
Talk was all about the movie at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where Renner discussed the best role he’s had since Kathryn Bigelow’s “Hurt Locker.” Renner sats as real-life controversial investigative journalist Gary Webb, whose 1990’s articles for the San Jose Mercury News documented the C.I.A.’s link to Central American cocaine smugglers. The peddled drugs funded contra rebels in Nicaragua and also devastated LA’s black ghettos. First celebrated for his groundbreaking articles, the reporter was later discredited and dragged through the mud by competing and media giants the New York Times, Washington Post and especially the L.A. Times. (Soon his story was soon overshadowed by the goings on with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.)
At the press event, Renner, who is also a producer of the film, talked to journalists for 30 minutes. As serious as he was, he also showed he has a sense of humor about fame and the negative offshoots, like the nude photographs circulating of him on the Internet.
I asked Renner if I could take his photograph.
“Yes, you need a picture?” he asked me. Everyone giggled.” Those on the Internet are much better than the one you’re gonna take,” Renner told me. “Just sayin.”
Back to the film, which is based on Webb’s 1998 book, “Dark Alliance,” in which Webb defended his articles, and the 2004 biography of Webb by Nick Schou, which gives the movie’s title. The film, which is sympathetic to Webb, should help reinstate his reputation and embarrass the appropriate people.
Although there’s an embargo on reviews before the film opens Oct. 10, I will say only that though it’s based on a story that happened several decades ago, it feels timely and fresh in light of how whistleblowers are vilified and the current administration has limited press access. The film is so powerful and exciting that by the film’s coda, which reminds us Web died after he shot himself in the head twice, I was so stunned by this largely forgotten story that it took me five minutes before I could get out of my seat.
Renner, who grew up in Modesto, California, seventy miles from where Webb filed his reports, explained why he was so passionate about the project.
“I got a really great script by Peter Landesman and then discovering it was a true story made it important to bring it to the big screen, so Mike (Cuesta), now ok, we can really consider actually doing this and the more I researched, the more I studied, the more I realized, wait a second, this all happened like seventy miles from where I grew up and I know nothing about it,” he said. “Some of the downstream sort of effects, what he uncovered, and thought that, you know, it’s something I had to do. Not wanted to do but had to do.”
The actor said he little contact with Webb’s family, who shared home videos of their father/husband going about doing mundane things. “It’s not my place to dig up old feelings or new feelings or fresh feelings. I didn’t want to do that so that I can go play him in a movie. It’s not my place, so out of respect for the family, I hid from them, if you will.”
He met them later. “It was amazing! It was lovely. It was awkward. It was cathartic. It was beautiful. It was encouraging. They were gracious and loving and I still talk to them and can’t wait to see them again at the premiere. They were very happy with the way the movie turned out.”
Asked about upcoming projects, Renner mentioned hot films in the pipeline.
He told reporters “The Bourne Legacy” sequel seems to be on hold now that Justin Lin will direct the first two episodes of “True Detective” later this fall.
Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon “are thinking of getting it going again, which is awesome because I think that leads to maybe us doing one together in the future, which would be my hope.”
For the past three weeks he’s been shooting the Tom Cruise starrer, “Mission Impossible: 5,” where he reprises his role as William Brandt. The action picked up in Morocco he said, and they will continue shooting in London.
“We have four and ½ months to go and we’re doing a lot of writing as we go and, yeah, there’s some good set pieces and seems to be some good twists and turns. We’ve got a great cast. Alec Baldwin is amazing. And again some more good bad guys there. It’s going to be cool. We’ve got the boys back together, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, and Tom, myself, it’s cool. Alec Baldwin is tremendous.”
“The American Hustler” actor also hinted to what was ahead for his character Hawkeye in the upcoming “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
“It was fun to finally kind of discover who Clint Barton is a little bit and got some good secrets revealed and I think what was great about the first Avengers is exponentially expressed in this one. The action to making fun of itself and there’s a lot more time spent with the Avengers together versus being separated in the first one. We’ve got some great new goodies and some good baddies.”
Renner said he’d like the Avengers to cross paths with the Marvel characters from “Guardians of he Galaxy.”
> “I think it would be awesome. I think of course that’s the hopes of the puppeteers behind Marvel but we’ll see.”
>> As for television, which he doesn’t much watch, Renner said he’s open to doing a “True Detective” like project, which doesn’t tie him up for more than a season.
Meanwhile he’s contemplating his next movie as a producer and has a project in mind but has to line up a director and wait until there’s a window of time he’s free, especially from obligations to Marvel.
As for his success, which the 43-year-old actor said was completely unexpected, he noted, “As each day goes along, rolls along, it feels right and when it doesn’t feel right then I go do something else.”
“It also feels right and it feels good to be sitting here and talking about a movie versus like having to not talk about a movie like Avengers, where you can’t say anything.”
Promoting the first Avengers he said was frustrating. “Oh God, I wanted to kill myself. I was a major spoiler cause I couldn’t talk about that, that I was a bad guy,” he said. “I’m like, God, all I could say is, yeah, I shoot a bow and arrow. I had to put my head down and stopped talking and let Scarlet Johansson do the rest. It was so frustrating, so it’s nice to actually sit and talk about a movie and there’s something to talk about and have a discussion about. I can do roundtables all day, especially with journalists talking about a movie about journalism and media. It’s great.”