Jeremy Renner earned his stripes just like a lot of people in Hollywood and has been playing bit parts for years. After years of forgettable supporting roles, and playing the heel in movies like “SWAT” to the in vogue stars of yesteryear like Colin Farrell and Michelle Rodriguez, he’s finally earned his place as one of the biggest and most marketable stars in Hollywood. Renner has displayed a keen persona that often makes him suitable for roles like military men, police officers, and the like, but he’s also capable of playing regular Joes. Renner is one of the more likable actors in Hollywood filling his resume with an array of blockbusters and prestige pictures. There are five of our favorite Jeremy Renner performances, so far.
5. Doyle (28 Weeks Later)
As Doyle, he’s one of the many military men tasked with protecting the new settlement laid down in the middle of London after the fated outbreak of the rage virus. When the Americans are sent in, Doyle is one of the best snipers, who mostly fills his time watching everyone, and is thrust in to a horrific situation when the rage virus explodes in to London once more. Though Doyle doesn’t get a lot of exposition, he’s still one of the more entertaining characters of the film, taking it upon himself to defy military protocol and get the remaining survivors out of London and in to a safe space. It’s pretty sad when Doyle is taken out mid-way by flame thrower, but he at least goes down like a hero.
4. Brandt (Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol)
The way I read it, Renner was cast as agent Brandt as a way of slowly grooming him to take over the “Mission Impossible” while Tom Cruise was phased out. I haven’t seen any evidence of that quite yet, so for now, Renner is doing a bang up job playing Ethan Hunt’s trusted ally. Brandt is an enigmatic man who is suited for the business side of the IMF and the espionage side. When we first meet him in “Ghost Protocol,” he an unassuming assistant who Ethan Hunt quickly realizes is actually an undercover agent. Brandt teams up with the disbanded IMF in order to prove his own innocence and then becomes a permanent right hand man to Hunt in “Rogue Nation.” Renner fits the mold of hero well making Brandt a sly and clever hero, whose loyalty is constantly tested, and beside Cruise, he holds his own.
3. Clint Barton/Hawkeye (The Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Renner as Hawkeye was a no brainer. Renner just fits in to the mold of heroic soldier, and takes up the mantle of the bow wielding avenger well. In “The Avengers” he’s tasked with playing foe to the super team when put under mind control by the evil Loki. In “Age of Ultron” though, Barton is given so much more to do, battling Quicksilver, helping to fight Ultron, and even brings the team’s spirits up by bringing them to his farm house to recharge with his wife and children. Renner keeps Hawkeye just as mesmerizing as he is in the comic books and turns what could have been a lackluster addition to the movie series in to someone absolutely crucial to the team’s arc.
2. Sergeant First Class William James (The Hurt Locker)
Playing military man once again, Renner heads up one of the big Oscar winners of 2008. In the excellent “The Hurt Locker,” Renner is the epitome of the man defined more by his work than his personal life. As a bomb defuser, he spends most of his time risking life and limb to detect and track bombs left by terrorist cells, and experiences the darker realities of the Iraq conflict. Renner keeps William consistently complex and compelling with his Oscar worthy turn, and helps us empathize with a man who is more comfortable on the battlefield than at home with his wife.
1. Gus Maitland (12 and Holding)
One of the criminally underrated roles from Renner, “12 and Holding” shows what Renner is capable of in more low key performances. Set around a trio of young kids experiencing changes in their lives after one of their friends is murdered during a terrible prank, Renner plays Gus. Gus is a handsome construction worker set to build a store over the wooded area where the murder took place. He becomes the object of affection for twelve year old Malee, who at first finds him fascinating, and then tries her best to romance him during the course of the movie, which Gus finds charming at first. Malee begins to realize Gus is incredibly broken, and is a grieving former fire fighter, and takes it upon herself to manipulate him, even performing his favorite song during a school concert. The last disturbing note is when she appears at his house stark naked, trying to seduce him, which Gus deflects prompting utter disappointment from Malee. Gus realizes that not only is he broken, but Malee is too, and in a final gut wrenching monologue from Renner, he explains why he was more saddened by Malee’s sexual advance than horrified. It’s a great and criminally overlooked performance from Renner that should be celebrated more.