Tag Archives: Renner

Jeremy Renner for ESQUIRE (Aug 2012 )

3 Sep

He wants to go back to the start.

It’s nice to think that he knew back then that today was in his future, that he somehow picked this spot on the horizon — Academy Award nominations, blockbuster franchises — and pointed himself at it, and made his opening move, and then another and another, and now here he’s finally arrived, roaring through these crooked streets in his silver Porsche, with the top down and the sun pouring in. It’s nice to think that he might have been capable of single-handedly creating this present for himself, that the right combination of work and planning and sacrifice might take a not particularly tall or lean or handsome twenty-two-year-old California kid and turn him into this forty-one-year-old poster-sized man. Because if Jeremy Renner actually earned his way here, to his suite at the Four Seasons, to this bucket seat, to The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy, the bookends of our summer, just because one day he decided he was going to, suddenly we would have a process, a map that we could follow.

Too bad there’s no such thing. It’s naive to think that we’re in total control of our own destinies. There are too many variables to account for. There are too many random collisions.

For instance: Five minutes into his journey back today, Renner gears down to a red light. Beside him, an open-roofed van filled with gawking tourists pulls up. He had just been talking about his growing fame, about the rise in his being recognized.

“Yeah, I go to a few spots,” he said. “People will want to talk about something, that’s fine. People for the most part — ”

When suddenly: “Hey!”

” — people for the most part — ”

Now there’s another yell, louder this time: “Hey!”

It’s the driver of the van. She’s looking down into Jeremy Renner’s Porsche. He turns to look up at her, so slowly that you can almost hear his neck creak. But now his face flashes with recognition.

“Hey,” he says. “How you doing?”

“Long time no see!” she says.

“Good to see you, what’s up?”

“I told you that you’d be in a movie with Tom Cruise, didn’t I?” And if this woman driving the tour van had somehow told Renner such a thing, she became remarkably right when he starred alongside Cruise in Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol last winter.

“I don’t know about that specifically… .” Renner says, smiling. “Are you singing to these people?” He turns to address the admiring tourists, now taking pictures of the movie star idling beside them. “She’s a tremendous singer,” he tells them.

“Thank you,” she says. “You want to go to Barney’s? Is that where you’re going? Are you going to Barney’s?”

“No, not right now.”

“Not anymore, huh? I’m so happy for you, my brother. Good to see you.”

“Thank you, darling.” Then the light changes, and the conversation’s over. Renner turns left; the van goes straight.

“Amazing,” Renner says, mostly to himself. What are the odds? Of that particular tourist van, at that particular red light? A tiny accident of time and place, and Renner’s exactly where he wanted to go, back before all this.

“I used to hang out at karaoke bars all the time. It was the most fun you could have when you had no money. I went right here twice a week” — and Renner points to Barney’s Beanery, a beer-and-burgers-and-karaoke place that conveniently appears to his right — “from 1995 until, like, 2002. Religiously. And she was one of the gals. There was a whole clan of people, this circuit of people. We’d get together and just have the best time. You know, she was a tremendous singer. A really, really great singer.”

That’s what she wanted to be. Now one of them drives past Barney’s in his convertible Porsche, off to retrace his path to gigantism. The other is serenading her open-topped van filled with tourists. How do two people who start in the same place find themselves at such different spots on the horizon, if not for the stars?

Renner parks outside  7777 Hollywood Boulevard. He lived in this little collection of apartments, in a studio on the ground floor, for five years, back in his karaoke days. It remains the longest he has lived anywhere since he was a child. It wasn’t his original Hollywood address, when he first moved here from Modesto in pursuit of the usual dreams — that was 1635 Formosa Avenue, which, at the time, was a pretty sketchy little spot. (Renner remembers walking out his door one morning and stepping over a man who was lying prone on the sidewalk, in the gun sights of a couple of cops.) But 7777 Hollywood Boulevard was his launching pad. His friends took over all the apartments in the building — “It was like Melrose Place,” he says — and mostly things went well for him here, even though he was broke, and even though he struggled to get work during the day and spent his nights howling at Barney’s Beanery. He was living in this apartment when he got his first significant part, in 2002, playing the true-life cannibal serial killer in Dahmer. It was a small movie, shot quickly, but people who were drawn to it were really drawn to it. That’s when Renner first started being recognized on the street; unfortunately, it was by the sorts of people who might connect with a murderer who kept the heads of young men in his fridge.

The hot girl who bit Renner deep into his arm, sending him to the hospital for shots, was only his second-weirdest encounter with admirers. The weirdest was an older man, maybe in his sixties, who started popping up a little too often in the places Renner hung out back then: in the coffee shop around the corner, at the record store. The man kept saying, Gee, what a lucky thing this is, running into each other like this, maybe it’s a sign, maybe we should go get a drink, and Renner always demurred, never really thinking all that much more about the guy and his repeated appearances.

It wasn’t until the man showed up outside Renner’s apartment that the truth began to register. Renner was walking his dog, and the man bumped into him: Here we are again, can you believe it? Do you live around here? Renner said, Oh, no, just walking the dog. Once again, the man asked Renner to go for a drink. And this time, when Renner said thanks but no thanks, the man got upset. He started yelling. Renner hustled away, walking his dog all through those streets, around corners and behind hedgerows, blocks out of his way, before he finally decided he had lost the man, and he returned to his home.

He was sitting at his computer when he heard a noise outside on his patio. It was a coffee mug, crashing to the ground. Renner thought his dog or maybe his cat — he had a cat then named Milo — had knocked it over. He went outside to investigate. And there was the man. There was the man, and he had Milo in his hands. “He had my cat tucked like a football, under his arm,” Renner says, sitting in his Porsche all these years later. Renner was stunned, frozen in a kind of low-level shock. The man bolted into the street. Renner gave chase, but before he could catch him, the man jumped into a car and squealed away. The man was gone, and so was Milo. Renner never saw either of them ever again.

“I hope Milo had a good life,” he says today, firing his engine back up. “I hope he didn’t end up as that guy’s dinner.”

We’ll never know whether Milo the cat ended up in a patch of sunlight or in a pot on the stove. All Renner learned for sure is that accidents aren’t always accidents.

Renner finally moved out  of that apartment when, later that year, he signed his first contract for a studio movie, S.W.A.T., a pure testosterone shove. At the time, he had $200 to his name, but he took that contract to a bank, and along with an actor friend named Kristoffer Winters, he pooled enough money to buy a house in Nichols Canyon. “I hated paying rent,” Renner says. “It was just money going out the window.” He and Winters did some work on the house, which was a cool 1960s modernist place; they found they had a shared knack for the remodel. Many people admired the house. After only a few months, some people admired it so much that they offered Renner and Winters $900,000 for a house in which they had invested $659,000. They had made more in a few months than they had made in their entire lives.


Which meant that they bought another house. And then another house. And then a condo in the Granville Towers. And then another house. Driving around today, Renner points to house after house — he calls them structures — that he fixed up either alone or with Winters. Since 2002, they’ve bought and sold more than fifteen houses, each time slightly bigger, each time slightly braver. They’ve often lived in their temporary, torn-up structures, without plumbing or power, trying to squeeze out a few more dollars. “I can tell you every Starbucks that had a bathroom around here,” Renner says.

He stops outside a Greek Revival beauty in West Hollywood, mostly obscured by a towering row of ficus. He and Winters planted them; instant ficus forests, craned in, are one of their signatures. “That is an amazing hedge,” Renner says, admiring its recent growth. He and Winters bought the house, which they dubbed Hemingway House, for $1.55 million in 2008. About a year later — in the midst of a historic real estate crash in California — they sold it for more than $4 million. They are not hobbyists; they are expert at this. “I will never be in the stock market,” Renner says. “It’s just gambling. I’m a gambler, but I’ll gamble on the practicality of things. If I’m all-in on a structure, at least I can sleep in the damn thing.”

Meanwhile, he continued the same kind of slow, interlocking build of his acting career. Supporting roles came first. He was cheap and good. Then he played the lead in Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker — she’d liked him in Dahmer — for which he earned his first Academy Award nomination. (He was renovating a condo at the time, his mattress on the floor, zipped up behind plastic. He was worried about plaster dust getting on his tuxedo.) He was reportedly paid only $65,000 for that part — he’s getting $5 million for The Bourne Legacy — but his success with the houses had made money a secondary concern. He found himself in a rare, blessed spot. “I always wanted to make good decisions,” he says. Now Renner never had to take a part because he was desperate. Instead, he found his cinematic wheelhouse, and he stayed in it: intense, sweaty, morally ambiguous roles, drifting occasionally into mean little bastard territory. Action didn’t hurt. And off he went, one of the few fortunate actors who could draw his trajectory with a ruler, getting another Oscar nomination for The Town, which led to Mission: Impossible and then his joining The Avengers and now, finally, his carrying The Bourne Legacy. Rung by logical rung, all the way to the top of the ladder.

He stops the Porsche once again, outside yet another house that he and Winters renovated: Sturges House — Charlie Chaplin was supposedly married in its living room — rises above another wall of ficus. Renner lived in the house until relatively recently, when he started hearing the vans filled with tourists shouting on the other side of the trees, when people started sliding strange packages under his gate. He could feel his reality changing, the specter of Milo the cat looming large. “I couldn’t even take my garbage out anymore,” he says. “It bummed me out.” A bizarre confrontation with a mobile, militant yoga class was one of the final straws. “Look, man, I don’t come onto your porch and start doing deep lunges,” Renner told them. “Get the fuck out of here.” But he knew what was coming. He put up his house for rent and moved into the Four Seasons, and only yesterday he bought another house, a retreat, hidden back up in the canyons. He hasn’t taken possession, except in his head. Now he wants to go see the future.

It’s another 1960s house, 1964 to be exact. Flat roofs, sharp angles, square shoulders. Airy, with lots of glass. Renner walks around it, pressing his face against those windows. It’s a very cool house. It’s not hard to see what he sees, or at least what he sees in it today. It’s harder to know what he sees it will be. “This will probably be my home forever,” Renner says. It’s remarkably intact, and he says he’s going to try to preserve most of its character. The former owner — who died recently — lived in this house a long time, and he had taken care of it. “I want to do good by this guy,” Renner says, admiring the huge brick fireplace that will soon be his. “A lot of people like to tear shit down here, and it breaks my heart. This town’s already so transient.”

The former owner’s belongings are still in the house. It looks almost like a museum, like a time capsule. In the office, there are dozens of faded framed pictures of the man and all the places he had been, a permanent record of his existence: There he is in front of the Kremlin; there he is in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. And above his desk, where he could always see it, there is a map of the world on the wall.

Renner heads for Beverly Hills  to meet Winters at their latest build on Delfern Drive. Really, this one is 95 percent Winters, because Renner’s been so busy with his other work, but they’ve still been sharing the psychic load. It’s easily their biggest risk. “This is a big job,” Renner says back in the Porsche. “Big, big, big job.”

He’s not kidding. All that remains of the original house is a pair of towering brick fireplaces. The rest of the construction — ten thousand square feet on a single story, an art deco palace with fourteen-foot ceilings and eleven bathrooms — is new. Renner and Winters walk over the acres of dirt to the front doors, above which two square, stone eagles have been perched. They were salvaged, they were told, from the old Federal Reserve building in Los Angeles. “Hey, the eagles are up!” Renner shouts happily. They’ve been at it for close to a year; they have maybe three months to go. They’re calling the house the Reserve. It is a monument.

Workers are everywhere, stripping the palm trees, painting trim. Winters wants Renner’s advice on some finishing touches, and they drift through the master bedroom into what will be one of two enormous closets. It alone is several hundred square feet, with its own bathroom and custom walnut cabinetry. Winters has three small walnut panels propped up under the light, each with a slightly different stain on it, each a shade of gray.

Renner likes the lightest of the three because it shows off the wood’s grain the most. “I think that’s beautiful, dude,” and he’s right. It really is beautiful. Every corner of this house — the shining tin ceiling in the kitchen, the door casings that mirror the setbacks on the roof outside — is evidence of care.

“We’ve made a killing even during this down market,” Winters says later. “Sometimes in life you have to give that extra 5 or 10 percent, and that really makes the difference.” One of those extra percentage points is waiting in the garage: a grand fountain, at the center of which is a life-sized sculpture of a woman. A famous actor apparently owned it before he ran into financial problems. Winters and Renner bought it at an IRS auction. Together, they plan on listing this house for at least $22 million, maybe as high as $25 million, while a fellow actor watches his life get liquidated.

“I’m very lucky,” Renner says, tearing through the streets again. “I could have pretty easily been driving a forklift.” He could be driving an open-topped van filled with tourists, shouting down to a woman he used to know.

Except that’s not even close to being true.

Renner passes a diner, Mel’s Drive-in on Sunset Boulevard, that he and Winters have always gone to each time they’ve bought a new house. It’s another one of their signatures. This is how it always starts. They grab a table together, and they pull out a wad of napkins, and they begin planning out their next grand parlay, plus an extra 5 or 10 percent. They talk about the sort of house they want in the end and how to get there, step after purposeful step. The stars have nothing to do with it. “Architecture and building is about how you get around the obstacles that are presented to you,” Renner says. “That sometimes determines how successful you’ll be: How good are you at going around obstacles?”

This last time at Mel’s, after he’d first seen the house in the canyon, the one he’s going to live in forever, he and Winters were tearing into their napkins when Renner looked up. And right there, on the side of the building across the street, was an enormous mural for The Avengers. There was Renner, with his pile of napkins in front of him, looking up at a superhero version of himself, several stories taller than any structure he’d ever built. He and Winters stopped and laughed for a minute, thinking about how far they’d come, all the way from 7777 Hollywood Boulevard and Nichols Canyon to The Bourne Legacy and the Reserve, how lucky they were, and then they went back to turning their napkins into maps.



Photos: Nigel Parry for ESQUIRE Aug 2012
Read more: http://www.esquire.com/features/jeremy-renner-interview-0812-2#ixzz25PMkbvfS

Jeremy Renner for FLAUNT magazine

3 Sep




 It’s stupidly, indulgently tranquil here. The vibe: a little oily, a little awesome, and in turn, all else that’s been exhaustingly said about Hollywood’s pleasure-prism, the Chateau Marmont. In the garden, hunched over a floral-flanked patio table is actor Jeremy Renner. He’s sipping an iced coffee, thumbs glazing an iPad screen. Tucking the silly little it-item of the moment away, he shares on its merits; most recently it enabled him to view scouting stills during a meeting with director Kathryn Bigelow, whose Oscar-draped 2009 effort, The Hurt Locker, catapulted its lead, Renner, onto the laps of the filmic mainstream, earning him a Best Actor nomination.

The sun eases its skillful tongue an inch further, a probably fake-titted sleeve ornament prances by, and Renner, perhaps clocking her, perhaps not, moves the conversation forward with talk of his latest role as the charmingly irascible, wickedly fierce intimidator Jem in The Town—another Boston love letter directed by and starring Ben Affleck. The film is a stylish exercise in rubber-masked bank robbing, inner city Irish-American badassed-ness, addictions to vice far and wide, some docile romance, and a few chase scenes that delightfully leave one’s tummy feeling like it just braved the tilt-a-whirl. It’s all brought about with the added aide of loin-stirringly ambrosial bank manager Rebecca Hall, an inversely sexy, white trash barfly in Blake Lively, and “The Jaw,” or rather, Jon Hamm of ‘60s-era sex and advertisement tele-drama Mad Men.
Renner, with nearly two decades of film and television acting beneath his belt, most of which was spent cruising beneath radars, seems pleased with the early cut he’s seen of the film. “I call it the ‘cringe factor,’” he says of inaugural viewings. “As long as I don’t cringe at anything I’ve done, I’m okay. I was really hesitant to do the movie, but I’m really happy for Ben at this point, having seen it. Even while filming, I knew it was going to be something very special and interesting. He surrounded himself with really tremendous talent, and I like his thinking, and filmmaking, in general, and we ended up having the most amazing time shooting. It was so relaxed, really fun. It felt like shooting a short film with a buddy on the weekend.”
In The Town, Renner executes Jem’s accustom to rough edges and ingrained violence with a brutal and seamless performance. Still, the violently arc-less and socially deviant character resembles the Modesto, California-grown boy’s usual plate of biscuits. Willam James of The Hurt Locker wasn’t exactly a daisy-picker, nor was Jeffrey Dahmer—yes, the famed necrophilic cannibal—whom he portrayed in Dahmer, so reluctance to play another badass makes sense. “The part was something I’ve done quite a bit of,” he says, “and no one saw some of those movies, so I was thinking, I don’t know, how can I make this interesting? Then I talked with Ben, and my concern with him was, ‘What makes you think you can direct and star in and write this thing?’” Renner pauses, laughing, “And he was like, ‘I don’t know that.’ But every film has its obstacles, and he’s just got an easy way about him, which has come from a lot of his experiences through his journey in the industry, good and bad. I’ve learned a lot from him.”
Renner also pals around with last issue’s Flaunt cover gent, Colin Farrell, on the regular, and cites him, in addition to Affleck, as someone whose experience in the entertainment industry has allowed him to “learn from other people’s mistakes. I just take the positive things and try to avoid the pitfalls. And sometimes you do step into a hole, and fall flat on your face, and hopefully you can learn something from that.”
As if on cue, a trio of fashion models cruises through the courtyard, clearly ready to sink into cocktails beneath the sun. Yet, they hardly turn heads, for this is the Chateau, and if you’re here, you’ve seen it all before. Perhaps to a point of detriment. Renner knows a thing or two about celeb indulgences, and their public monitoring. “Colin was very unapologetic for who he was,” says Renner. “And even though I’m like him in a number of ways, it’s none of the public’s fucking business, one’s personal life. Like this stupid thing with sex tapes and everything, and cameras everywhere, and Tweeting—whatever the hell that is—it starts to put such a different light on how you’re perceived. I’ve worked so hard to be looked at as an actor and to have my work speak for me—at least that was the intention. And to be respected. It’s much harder to do that nowadays it seems. People are more interested in something stupid—if you’re drunk or who you’re sleeping with. I mean we were just in Italy, and people were taking pictures of me and Channing [Tatum] with our shirts off. ‘Shirtless Studs in Ischia,’ or whatever. I’m like, ‘What? Really?’” Renner chuckles at the memory. “Of course, we’re both out of shape, haven’t had to do a movie and be in shape, on vacation, and we’re eating big Italian meals. It’s annoying. It’s an [upper] class problem, I suppose, but it’s still annoying.”
A comment such as this can only leaven a discussion of class themes in The Town, the title of which refers to Charlestown—a historically hard-bitten and shady Boston neighborhood where most of the film’s tomfoolery takes place. Alongside routinely shoving gun muzzles into the chubby throats of bank tellers, the film’s characters belly up to seedy venues that dually trade in Oxycontin, eat baked beans from the can, sport unsavory track suits, and are rather inflexible with speech particles. They’re lovable dudes, but you wouldn’t expect to see them queuing at the opera or comparing the co-op’s rice milks. What’s more, Rebecca Hall’s character, Claire, who unknowingly sleeps with her enemy, Affleck, is the story’s gentrification seed, a new arrival to one of Charlestown’s up-and-coming blocks.
“It’s really got nothing to do with class,” Renner denies, though, at the suggestion. “I always think that an environment dictates who individuals are. Look at The Town, the townies. These guys, at least back in the day, were criminals, bank robbers and so forth. And I think there’s something interesting about diving into that world that’s so unfamiliar to me. My character, for instance, doesn’t change throughout the film. He’s a product of his environment, yet I don’t look at him as a bad guy. Does he have malice? Is he kind of thuggish? Sure he is. But I don’t want to play the role where it’s aggressive to be aggressive. He reacts based on the love of his friends. And what’s great about the character, that I can connect with, is that loyalty, his brotherhood. There’s something really wonderful about that. Not the violence, but that someone’s got your back. It’s pretty kick-ass.”
It’s a nice thing about Jeremy Renner: the fuck-all swagger works across the board, really. Here, in the garden, sipping coffee over ice, he’s got a well-postured, warm, American West-bred blend of ease in skin, and he could probably beat you up if it came to it, and you hope it won’t. He’ll look you in the eye, be a buddy. Yet, the cool his characters’ lug about is, at this stage of his career, yet to be as agreeably centered.
In his films, stags hang out of the oft-bloodied mouth of his hardened face, at once strangely handsome and brutish; he’s the friend you fight to keep near so as to stay cool, yet worry you’ll one day wake up to him looming over your bed with a hatchet. And whether he’s coughing up blood into a 130-degree bomb suit helmet while tweezering Jihadist roadside wiring or filling New England pigs with lead, you more than often, despite it all, want him to win. In other words, he understands the complexities of tending to anti-hero roles. “It happens to be that all people are flawed,” he explains. “It’s hard for me to believe that someone is ‘good.’ I’m attracted to characters who are made three-dimensional by their flaws. That doesn’t mean they have to do bad things—rob banks, for instance—but there’s something really interesting, that I buy into, in cinema, where one attempts to do something good, but is inhibited by their flaws. Always doing the ‘right thing’ is boring, because it’s not real—that’s absolute horseshit.        And playing bad guys is sometimes far from who I am, but it can also be close to who I am.”
It’s wherewithal, or maybe it’s time on the planet, but there’s something else, almost fibrous, driving Renner’s curiosity for the dark, and perhaps enlightened, side. And surely, intensely channeling this toughness regularly teaches him a thing or two about himself. “I mean, if I stop growing, stop being curious, then why live?” he ponders. “A pool of complacency is death to me. I’d rather be six feet under. The Middle East changed me much more as a man than as an actor. I mean, being a California kid and getting to experience the Middle East, a culture and a community and a religion I knew nothing about… And the physical part of the movie turned into a mental and spiritual part with how far it pushed us. It certainly tested the limits as to where I thought I could go.”
Maybe this drive, this fiber, is Renner’s chasing of an artistic dragon? A voyeuristic, Freudian lure to that which brings him to the edge? An addictive death drive? “I don’t know that it’s addictive,” he says slowly, thinking it over. “But there’s certainly something about shooting a film like The Hurt Locker that is just balls-out, real as it gets. You’re empowered with a lot of control. It was living it more than I wanted to live it. It was just down and dirty and honest. There was no wrong we could do. And Kathryn’s doing another movie, and of course I’d love to do it, I’d love to work with her.”
After a slow gaze around the courtyard, Renner continues, “But [The Hurt Locker] is like being spoiled. You shoot The Town and that’s a different kind of spoiled. You think, ‘Wow, now I can just act!’ That’s the only thing to do, and still with a good result. You didn’t have to be tortured to pull off a performance.”
Out beyond the vine-laced walls of the Chateau, the Sunset Strip farts upward its nasty, stalled, lunchtime stank. The stank meets the sun, reinforcing our make-believe halo, our immunity to those grinding along outside the forcefield. The interview’s become a bit lighter now, a half hour in, and Renner is sharing on his love for heritage and history, signs of a slow-cooked unpretentiousness, perhaps enhanced by his childhood in a region of the globe where the oldest trees in the world live. “A sense of history or age to things is so special to me,” the actor says. “It’s why I love trees. It sounds strange but they’re the oldest living thing on the planet. So, I love history and things rooted in age, there’s something wise about that. In L.A., as soon as there’s anything that acquires a lot of history, they tear it down.”
There is a place, though, on the other side of the country where no one remotely resembles the models who walked by earlier and are now glancing at Renner from their own table, no Chateau, maybe few annual days of sunshine, and a deep pride in history: Boston. Renner, this history buff, cherished his time shooting The Town there. “Man, I loved Boston,” he gushes. “It’s incredible. There’s a lot of political history and so many students. Is it tough? Sure, but that’s a small part. There’s elements that are elegant and beautiful and rich and so forth. I was quickly invited into a club [of local Bostonians, and they took me] into prisons, and we hung out in their homes. I got a really quick education on the community there, especially Charlestown.”
Is the Charlestown of today like that which Affleck aims to project? “Well, even in Charlestown, we had to play the movie like it was more 1995 than today,” Renner says. “Because Charlestown isn’t a bad place. I mean, back in the day, it was one square mile built around a prison, and now that prison’s a school. There’s still the old school folks there, though. I mean there was a code of silence with the mayor, that sort of thing.”
So, Charlestown’s recovery sends us back to gentrification, or urban development, or whatever people getting in where they fit in is called these days. Why do rough neighborhoods turn? Is it strictly affordability? Is depravity fetishized by those looking to add edge to their otherwise soft-cuticled lives? “It’s always financial,” Renner asserts. “A place considered a ghetto or a lower income place becomes part of growth. That’s society. Now there’s strollers rolling through Charlestown. I mean, you see it in L.A. all the time. I build homes in areas where it’s inexpensive. I’m a developer, which I do with my brother.”
Firecrackers! Light bulbs! Because while some Internet trolling prior to this interview might have revealed that the Renners “develop” homes, in Hollywood, that more often means buys and flips. But this is different. Renner is fully behind this development, taking things from the ground up. And thus, back to history and heritage, as Renner mentioned earlier. “I just love architecture,” he shares. “I mean, you’ve got a great old 1908 bar established, and you yank it out and put in a shoe store? That’s tragic to me. That’s fucking tragic. There’s a lot of history in that bar. Now I build and refurbish old Hollywood homes. The house I’m working on now, Preston Sturges, a director in the ‘50s, used to own. We’ve now restored it to its glory days, which is awesome. I absolutely love that old Hollywood feel. We’ve done anything from mid-Century to Greek revival, all over L.A. We’re doing East Coast traditional, we’ve done French Normandy. We design the interiors, everything. We’ve done fifteen homes in the last eight years.”
Renner puts as much passion into homebuilding as he does into acting, and there may be more passions in other elements of his life, in things yet to be unearthed. “The older I get, I realize the less I know,” he admits. “Surely I’m more wise and experienced in some parts of my life, but I continually realize, ‘Wow, I don’t know anything.’ And that’s a wonderful place to be. Sure, it’s a little scary. In my early 30s, I had had certain experiences in life where I was pretty comfortable, and it prevented me from doing certain things.”
This blend of humility and openness doesn’t come about from Googling oneself, keeping oneself in the company of halter-topped teens, or allowing the acidic blogosphere their self-entitled prophetic musings. No, it stems from the fundamentals. And so this interview begins to wind down with discussions on family, on roots. “My father gets more interesting every single day,” Renner says, smiling at the thought of his old man. “He’s curious. He’s got a lot of patience and he makes me realize that’s why I don’t know anything. Because he [maintains he] knows nothing. And of course he [knows things]. Of course I do. But he remains open to things. Maybe something that was right isn’t right anymore. There’s something really inspiring about that.”
For those without patient fathers, or two lucrative skill sets, curiosity might be the last box to check on a list of self-ascribed character traits. What lends to this absence in people? Where or when do we lose our intrigue? “I think fear comes to shut down curiosity,” Renner ventures. “When you think you know the answer, when you get jaded. If you allow yourself to be jaded by an experience, that can really shut you down. Like, I’ve never been a big supporter of this city, for instance. There’s a lot of things I hate about L.A.: the lack of community, [it’s] a one industry town, or so it seems, the traffic. But I just focus on the good. And of course, the amount of opportunity here is amazing. I mean, I never thought I’d be a homebuilder. And here I am. Shit, I make more money doing that than acting! I came down here as a broke actor, and made my way as a makeup artist. I never thought I’d be a makeup artist. But hey, I made some good money putting makeup on hot chicks, and I thought, ‘This is amazing!’ And of course there’s the scenery in L.A., the trees, the mountains… The weather’s tremendous.”
We try to fight it, but it’s always back to L.A. Back to the mysticism of mirth and money, of artistry and artifice, of the unapologetic pursuit for that which might, be it via the Internet, prestigious awards, or hefty bank accounts, command recognition. Slurping the last of his iced coffee, Renner seems anxious to return to his job site up the street, where his contracted team awaits his approval before its next move. But not before he offers a little insight on what’s plated for the coming months. “I’m going to play Hawkeye in The Avengers,” he says, shaking his head at what will surely be another testament of hard-assed cool. “But that’s isn’t until next spring. There’s a really tremendous cast, really exciting. I just met up with [Robert] Downey [Jr.] and [Mark] Ruffalo and the director and had a good chat. There’s no script yet, so we’re all kinda curious, and we’re like, ‘What the hell is it we’re doing? How is it possible we’re going to have all these superheroes in this movie? But it should be really fun.
“I haven’t worked since The Town,” he adds. “After the Academy Awards, I was so happy that we won, that we were even there… And then, [I was] really just relieved that it was fucking over. I can have my life back, and just do something that I’ve wanted to do. And that’s what I’ve been doing all summer. Like with Italy. Going because I want to go, taking a break from that whole side. I haven’t seen a movie for probably six months. But now I’m really itching and scratching to work.”
Outside, after parting nods in the lobby, the valet, in his tiny umbrella triangle of a shade, is slow to peel away from his Los Angeles Times. It’s the mellow lunch hour, far from the evening hustle, and there’s no need to break a sweat, make a show of hurrying to retrieve the ticketed vehicle. He strolls across the lot.
The hum of traffic is interrupted by another goodbye call from Renner, who’s casually strolling up the street toward the house where Preston Sturges perhaps once penned a masterpiece. He’s enjoying a cigarette. And whatever thoughts are working their way through his mind post-interview, he’s probably feeling pretty cool with whatever was imparted.


taken from FLAUNT magazine 2011