Jeremy Renner is the Bizarro world Ted McGinley.
For years, McGinley had a reputation as a show killer, a guy who would show up on a long-running TV series just in time for the show to drop dead. It wasn’t his fault, but it happened often enough that he got saddled with that for a while, and something like that can be hard to shake.
Renner, on the other hand, appears to be the guy you cast late in the game if you want to extend a franchise. He was a great addition to the “Mission: Impossible” franchise last Christmas, he hit the ground running in “The Avengers” this summer, and now they’ve handed over the “Bourne” series to him, and he’s managed to once again deliver a performance that feels absolutely like it has always been a part of that world, perfectly picking up where Matt Damon’s work as Jason Bourne left off, and I suspect Universal will be amply rewarded for taking the chance on him.
So many profiles have been written about Renner lately that I feel like I walked into the room armed with more personal knowledge about him than I’m comfortable with. I’m glad he’s financially stable in a way that allows him to make choices from a place of creative interest instead of financial necessity, but that doesn’t change what is or isn’t onscreen. I’m more interested in talking to him about the details of this character he’s created that now has to carry the series forward.
There’s a very different thing driving Aaron Cross than we saw driving Jason Bourne, and Renner does delicate work in a difficult part. I think it’s exciting to see him at the center of the franchise now, and I sincerely hope we get a film at some point where he and Jason Bourne get to fight side by side.
At the press day, Toshi went with me because my wife and Allen had something else they were doing. He wore his “Avengers” t-shirt, and the entire time before we walked into the room with Renner, he was practically bouncing off the wall. When we actually stepped inside, though, he got so shy he could barely look at Renner, something I haven’t really seen from Toshi before. Renner got up at the end of the interview and walked over to introduce himself and talk to Toshi for a few minutes, though, and for the next two days, it was all Toshi could talk about. Watching Renner talk to this young Hawkeye fan, it was obvious he takes seriously the enthusiasm people have for these films he’s making right now, and it feels like we’re still just starting to figure out what Renner’s capable of onscreen.
“The Bourne Legacy” opens everywhere this Friday.