The Bourne Legacy is the first of the Bourne franchise to not star Matt Damon as its lead, this time opting for Oscar-nominated actor Jeremy Renner to star as the film’s protagonist. Having appeared in huge blockbusters like Avengers Assemble and critically successful pieces such as The Hurt Locker, it seems that Renner’s star is in the ascendance: a far cry from the work that began his career.
Born: 7th January 1971
Best know for: The Hurt Locker, The Bourne Legacy, Avengers Assemble
Aside from a few television appearances, Renner’s first lead role in film was most certainly one of controversy, in 2002’s Dahmer. His portrayal of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer earned him praise from critics, rightly deserved due to his calm yet deeply sinister portrayal of the murderer in his later years.
Renner gained mainstream exposure in the blockbuster film S.W.A.T alongside Colin Farrell. Whilst this film can hardly be remembered favorably, his appearance no doubt helped his career forward, soon leading to Neo Ned (2005), in which Renner gives a remarkable performance as an institutionalised white supremacist. The childlike innocence and naivety used to portray Ned is extremely effective and, like Dahmer, molds a sympathetic character out of a dark and lowly existence.
Renner’s career continued to build momentum in 2005 when he starred alongside Oscar-nominated Charlize Theron in North Country, later donning the mask of veiled threat for a dark performance in A Little Trip to Heaven.
Soon appearing as Doyle in 28 Weeks Later and the critically heralded The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Food (both 2007), Renner continued to work in films that pleased both audiences and critics. This would culminate in his Oscar-nominated performance as Sergeant First Class William James in the outstanding film, The Hurt Locker (2008). His performance as a specialist brought in to disarm IEDs in war torn Iraq, played with skillful calmness and believability, marked Renner’s arrival on the main stage.
Seemingly unsatisfied with just one Oscar nod, Renner’s next film role would gain him another, as menacing criminal James Coughlin in The Town. Whilst many believed this to be a vehicle for the return of Ben Affleck, Renner’s simmering performance steals each scene thanks to his magnetic on-screen presence.
Finally Marvel got a hold of Renner, and his appearances as Clint Barton/Hawkeye in Thor and Avengers Assemble in particular added a new dimension to these mammoth blockbusters. Unfortunately, it would appear that Renner’s work will be confined to franchises in the near future, with Hawkeye set for more appearances in the Marvel universe as well as Renner’s roles in both the Mission Impossible and Bourne franchises.
Whilst the successes of Jeremy Renner’s work in creating flawed, complicated and ultimately captivating characters may have taken on a new form in recent years, his ability to purely embody the characters that he plays still makes him an enthralling on-screen presence, and one that we hope to continue enjoying.