- Published: Tuesday, 16 February 2016 01:38
- Written by coolshades
Musician and singer, self-made property mogul and ten-pin bowling champion, Jeremy Renner has more than one string to his bow
Look closely amid the flurry of superheroes in the two Avengers movies, and he’s there too. In the second one, he jokes, he actually gets to speak. He’ll be in hero form again this year, with Captain America: Civil War and in Story of Your Life, with Amy Adams.
Not that he seems to mind either way, and not least because he’s estimated to have £23m in the bank, which isn’t bad given he’s rather a late bloomer among Hollywood’s upper ranks.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Renner has a straightforward, no-nonsense blokeishness such that, when he says he really doesn’t care about something – and this is something he suggests a lot – it comes across as real rather than bravado. Sparkling or non-sparkling water? “I don’t care,” he says.
He’s the kind of guy who, despite his rising star, you might share more than a few beers with at the bar.
Indeed, last year, bored at yet another hotel stay, he crashed a wedding reception there, had a few, chatted with some guests and then made off into the night.
He’s the guy presenting the Golden Globes with Jennifer Lopez who got Twittered in the neck for making an old-fashioned if un-PC crack about her own globes. Refreshingly, he didn’t rush to apologise for it. He’s the guy who, with co-star Chris Evans, pointed out that Avengers character Black Widow is a bit of a “slut”, given how much she gets around with other superheroes. Again castigated by the judge, jury and executioner that is social media, Renner pointed out that he was talking about the fictional behaviour of a fictional character. Evans apologised. Renner didn’t.
“Look, I am who I am no matter who I’m speaking with,” Renner says, with a bit of a shrug. “Maybe the way I appear is one thing and the way I am is another and you may never know. Maybe when I’m sitting down with my grandmother having a cup a coffee it might be different to when I’m speaking with journalists waiting for me to slip up and say something wrong. We have different conversations here like this than we would if we were having dinner together, right? You might call it bullish but it doesn’t really matter to me, I can’t live my life any other way. I am who I am – like it or not.”
People seem to like Renner being who he is, precisely because Renner doesn’t play the PR game.
That makes him an unusual choice in his latest role: as the suave frontman in a global ad campaign for the French cognac, Rémy Martin. He’s no George Clooney, after all. The idea behind it – somewhat late for any trend-watcher – is to tap into the notion of the ‘slash’ career, in which one is not defined by a single job, but also by one’s other interests.
Renner at least has his slashes: musician and singer – he fronted a rock band before making it in acting, and still sings – and, more unexpectedly, home renovator. Before his big break, in S.W.A.T., he and a friend bought an LA house, did it up themselves (while living in it, sans electricity or running water), flipped it and then did that many times over, such that now there’s a self-sufficient design/property company presently with some 20 properties on its books.
Back in 2013, he sold a property for $24m that he’d bought for $7m. Clearly opening a tin of Dulux is something the surprisingly contemplative Renner could always go back to if the acting dries up. It will help him overcome what he calls his “murderous resting face”.
“This is the face I was born with but I think actually it’s why I have a career,” he says – and, in fact, at rest he looks like someone you wouldn’t cross; someone, indeed, who has spoken about having to “choke a guy out” when he got belligerent with a co-star in a bar.
“When I smile I can come across as the most friendly guy you’d want to meet, and when I don’t smile people think I want to kill them. It keeps people confused. It makes me hard to read, gives me a face for drama. I built my life around it. I like it.”
So what attracted him to the Rémy Martin work, the money aside of course? Again, there is the disarming directness. “Er, nothing really attracts me to do that,” he says, “but I like the way [it presents] a big version of my life, the things that I express to others – that determination not to be pigeonholed or labelled or come down to any one thing. I like to think I’m a great father but I’m not just that. And it’s not like I don’t want to be an actor anymore. I just enjoy the things I enjoy.”
There’s a pause for reflection, a glimpse of that murderous – or, at least, very serious – resting face. “Do you want any one thing chiselled on your tombstone?” asks the man who had a 225 ten-pin bowling average by the time he was 12 and could have been a contender for world champ. “Or do you want to be known as an amazing brother or a wonderful father? Do we have to be defined by any one aspect, especially when it’s [reduced] down to race and creed, the things that people find easier to put a stamp on?
"That’s where I come from. That’s the principle that was passed on to me by my father and in turn which I’ll pass on to people in my family. It’s very, very important to me. [To define yourself one way] just doesn’t make any sense to me. So I don’t buy into it. I refuse it. I think we all should.”
Renner would concede that, while his day job is about seeking to express every side of his personality (and others’ for that matter), both his business – casting agents – and his audience – shaped by the celebrity industry – seek to codify actors like him as much as possible, right down to his sexuality. The internet gossip suggesting that he’s gay? Unsurprisingly, he really couldn’t care less.
“I think ultimately to remain curious about the things in life is what drives me,” says Renner, still yet to enjoy a glass of cognac. “If I had any interest in water, for example, I’d be a water connoisseur, but I’m not. We all have those things that make us want to be curious. Often fear gets in the way. Or we’re programmed to think: ‘I’ve got to go to school to study this so I can do that for a living’. Well, that doesn’t mean that only one thing is best for you.”