Jeremy Renner: 'Shooting Kind of Took My Soul'


And I'm not accountable nor responsible. Dude, I didn't do anything but the movie. Like, don't thank me, I'm thanking him. But regardless, it's a really interesting exchange.

It is. The problem is that the news just does a terrible job of relaying this stuff. So it falls to a movie, and a good movie, to do it, and do it well.


Are you ever revisited by moments from the shoot? Do you get Post-Traumatic ... Shooting Disorder?

Not so much from shooting, but from being uprooted and exposed to the Middle East. And it was a terrible shoot, very difficult, and not easy for anybody on this movie, being a smaller budget, and really a big movie. And being exposed to the military and what's going on -- I was on it for a year before we started to shoot the film. So I spent a lot of time with guys on base, off-base, and what a wonderful gift it was for me to do that. But in that experience of prep and shooting, I became so aware of how naive I was to Muslim culture, to the Middle East, to what's going on, to what EOD was. I don't think most people know what EOD is -- and that's our warfare. So I was so affected by all those things, being slapped in the face by reality.

Then I come back to Los Angeles after shooting, and shooting kind of took my soul in a lot of ways, and I come back and I hear girls talking about their chipped toenail polish. It was kind of hard to swallow. And I'm an actor, right? I was exposed to a lot of things that most civilians aren't, but I'm just an actor shooting a movie, and I was really adversely affected. So I can't even imagine what our men and women who really do it go through when they come back. It's gotta be really tough. And what I keep hearing is that cereal aisle scene at the end of the movie kind of speaks volumes without any words. And that was what the girls and the toenail polish bit was for me. That's my life now?

The last time we spoke with you, you were heading home for your 20th high school reunion. How did that pan out?

[Laughs] Yeah, it went really great. I was pretty nervous about going, you know? But I ended up having a really good time, hanging out with one of the two friends I've remained friends with after all these years. I was actually one of the last people to get out of there. It was really fun.

Had people seen the movie?

Yeah, I think there was a handful of people. The Hurt Locker didn't show in Modesto yet, where I'm from, but it definitely was open in the bigger cities. So there was somewhat of awareness. You know, when you come from a small town and you do a Kellogg's commercial, you're kind of a big deal. [Laughs] It's just so foreign to people in Modesto.

Your movie was one of my favorite films of 2009. What were some of yours?

I unfortunately didn't get to see a whole lot. I really enjoyed Moon. Sam Rockwell is a good buddy of mine and I thought he was really, really tremendous in that role, which was pretty challenging for him. The movie I thought was slightly cryptic, but for Duncan Jones, I think it was his first movie, it was really an amazing job. Where the Wild Things Are I really liked. Slightly depressing, I was hoping it would be a little more uplifting, but I really enjoyed that. Spike Jonze is pretty amazing. I haven't seen any of the movies that are getting a lot of heat right now amongst the awards circuit, so that's definitely on my list of things to do. Precious -- I keep seeing Lee Daniels at every one of these events and awards ceremonies, and I haven't had a chance to see his movie yet!

Has he or anyone else on the circuit talked you to talk about your performance in The Hurt Locker?

I guess. Yeah, there's been a lot of ... uh ... talk about it. And it's great. You know, it's hard for me to take. When it comes to my peers, it's nice to have guys you've come up with like Ben Foster, and Rockwell, who support you when things are going terrible, and support you when things are going great. It's like comfort food -- it feels really nice. Then you get guys like Robert Duvall, who I've not met. We have mutual friends, and I keep hearing how he wants to meet, how he wants to talk about The Hurt Locker, how he says it was better than Apocalypse Now. And I'm like, what? This guy's crazy! Stuff like that just blows me away.

One last thing. There was a rumor floating around that you'd play Hawkeye in Thor. Did that ever pan out?

That was just one of those things that got blown way out of proportion. It was an idea. Those Marvel guys, I'm a big fan of them. They're so smart about how they want to do these things -- they have Captain America, and Thor coming around, Iron Man 2, and then I happen to know Zak Penn, who's writing The Avengers. So they thought Hawkeye is an interesting role, and asked me if I knew anything about him. I said no, so they gave me their sort of spiel on what he was, and I thought that it was kind of interesting. The only reason it came out this early, because Avengers is two years away, is that they're thinking OK, we may throw him in Thor, we may not, as a cameo. You know what I mean? So there's truth that we talked about it, but there's no truth to me doing it.

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  • HwoodHills says:

    Fantastic interview, Seth. Good job.
    The Hurt Locker is scheduled for a January 12 DVD release so it'll probably do crazy business that way.

    • Ryan says:

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  • Rhymes with "Winner" says:

    Renner is so amazing in this film and seems like such a really down-to-earth guy. He deserves all this attention and then some. Yes, reconsider... and then never forget!

  • "David Webb" says:

    Yeah, it's been out for a year but not that many people saw it. But they've heard about it; the buzz is still there. And it's bound to do really good business on home video.

  • Chris says:

    Great interview. I so hope this film gets best picture and best director. Renner was also fantastic in it, but he's not my top choice for best actor. All the same, he sounds like an intelligent guy who doesn't take himself too seriously.
    And, I don't mean to be a hater, but that certainly wasn't Affleck's second directorial effort. I pulled this off the "Gone Baby Gone" trivia on
    "Ben Affleck's directorial debut in a major motion picture, although he did direct two other movies that never made it to the big screen."

  • bajeha says:

    I saw The Hurt Locker in July and was blown away by it and Renner's performance (pun intended). I told friends then that both were award worthy and to see them while they could. Both have been on my mind ever since, especially as I've been volunteering at the airport lounge my employer sponsors for active and retired military personnel travelling with their families over the holidays. THL has been brought up in conversation as both realistic and cathartic.
    The same theater has brought the film back for another run. I just saw it again, and the impact was just as powerful. I've pre-ordered a Blu-Ray DVD copy, but nothing beats seeing this movie on a really big screen.
    Renner sounds like a decent and hardworking professional who is mature enough to appreciate his growing celebrity and take it all in stride. I wish him all the best.

  • Trubie says:

    Great interview, but it would've been nice to hear more about Kathryn Bigelow, who directed "The Hurt Locker." Instead we hear about Ben Affleck and Spike Jonze.

  • Livie says:

    I absolutely love Jeremy Renner. Having met him a number of times over the years, he is the most down-to-earth guy you’ll ever meet in Hollywood. He hasn’t changed ego-wise one bit, for those reasons, he will always have my support.
    I've said it on another post here before, and I'll say it again, it's about time he's getting some much deserved recognition. With every accolade that has been bestowed upon Jeremy recently, it makes me happy that people are finally discovering what a truly gifted actor he is.

  • or says:

    Glad of the interview and of the information about the film. But what of Kathryn Bigelow? You didn't ask him about her directing style or anything.

  • Seth Abramovitch says:

    This is our second interview with Renner. For more on the Hurt Locker shoot, please read the first interview.

  • JAB says:

    Great piece.
    This guy sounds like 1 of the few actors I'd ever like to meet. I've seen this movie 3 times. Renner's performance (along with Mackie's & Gerraghty's) gets better each time.
    As much as I liked UP IN THE AIR (& Anna Kendrick's equally stunning breakout work) I find myself cheering for this movie & everyone who made it --especially Kathryn Bigelow-- to take home a lot of Oscars.

  • Camgirls says:

    Nice read. Thanks for the work you put in to this site.

  • Valda Pizer says:

    Who do you think is gonig to win the most awards at the VMA's tonight?

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