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Renner to discuss career at Gallo Center benefit
[September 10, 2010]

Renner to discuss career at Gallo Center benefit

Sep 10, 2010 (The Modesto Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Jeremy Renner has had one of the busiest summers of his career, and he hasn't even worked a single day.

The Modesto native and recent Academy Award nominee just signed onto two high-profile projects, the fourth "Mission: Impossible" with Tom Cruise and the highly anticipated "The Avengers" superhero ensemble with Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson, among others.

That is in addition to his upcoming release, "The Town," with Ben Affleck and "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm. Renner plays a member of Affleck's gang, a group of career criminals that robs banks around Boston.

The thriller, which was also directed by Affleck, opens nationwide Sept. 17.

Renner, a 39-year-old Beyer High graduate, is coming home to Modesto to discuss the film and his career Sept. 18 at a benefit for the Gallo Center for the Arts.

"An Evening With Jeremy Renner" will follow Bravo's "Inside the Actors Studio" model, with the actor talking about his work and answering questions.

Jim Johnson, the Gallo Center's arts education coordinator, will conduct the interview.

Since his best-actor nomination for "The Hurt Locker" earlier this year, Renner has been in demand and and making headlines. He appeared with the all-star cast of "The Avengers" at Comic-Con in July in San Diego. And late last month, it was announced that he'd join Cruise in "M:I4." He starts filming with Cruise in October, with a slated December 2011 release date. Then in April, shooting for "The Avengers" under "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" director Joss Whedon begins. That film is set to premiere May 2012.

Renner spoke with The Bee from Los Angeles last week just before jetting off to the Venice Film Festival to promote "The Town." Q: Wow, you've had quite a summer. What have these last six months been like for you since the Oscars? A: Well, I took the summer off on vacation for the first time in a decade. So I had a ball, a wonderful time.

My career been such a slow progression over the last 20 years. It started speeding up the last 10 years. And ever since "The Hurt Locker," awareness in the industry and awareness in the public has shot up.

I've noticed the biggest difference is the amount of material that comes in. Not necessarily the quality, but the amount. There are the same percentage of scripts that I want to do and that are really good. But if I had 100 scripts before, now it is 10,000 scripts. So I'm rifling through more material, which is awesome.

Q: How has the Oscar nomination changed both the projects you're sent and the roles you looks for? A: It's a bit easier to get a job. Now I'm creating relationships with studios instead of just casting directors. Like if it wasn't for "The Hurt Locker," Tom Cruise and Paramount probably wouldn't have made that thing happen really quickly. I went in for one movie, "Super 8," met with ("Mission: Impossible 4" producer and "Lost" creator) J.J. Abrams. J.J. and Tom talked me out of doing that movie and into doing "Mission: Impossible." Q: So, wait, you weren't even going up for "M:I4"? A: No, I was going to meet about one movie and then three hours later, I am doing another movie. Afterward, people were like, "I thought you were meeting on 'Super 8' with J.J.?' and I was like, 'I know -- I did, too!' " Q: Had you met them before? A: I'm a massive fan of J.J. Abrams. I was kind of waffling on that movie, but I was so wooed by him. The guy knows what he is doing. And when I was going in to meet him, I saw Tom in the office. Tom was a big champion for me. I had met him a couple times before, one time at a table read for a script he was looking at a year and a half ago. He is such a generous human being; I am so excited to work with him. He is such a great dude.

Q: Along with "M:I4," you've got "The Avengers" coming up, both of which are big action movies instead of your normal smaller, dramatic fare. How do you feel about that switch? A: I am so exited. I feel like a 14-year-old boy. It is going to be a lot of fun. I am not disillusioned by the fact that they are big movies. They are not the dramas I've done, the character roles I've done. But it's stretching and growing into new territories for me. The physicality is fun. After this, I'm going to do training for "M:I4." It's like playtime.

Q: What kind of training? A: Well, I literally haven't been in a gym this year. So stretching for a half hour is a workout -- it's pathetic. We're doing sticks, knives, guns, close hand-to-hand combat training. Stuff to make you look like a badass on screen.

Q: What was it like to announce the cast of "The Avengers" at Comic-Con? A: I've never experienced anything quite like that. I'm sure Bono sees that every time he plays a show. You feel like a rock star for 10 minutes. It's completely bananas. I feel like I'm a part of some- thing much bigger than me. I hope I can provide the fans what they need.

Q: How do you think these films will impact your career? A: I know it's going to mean a lot for me as an actor in getting more difficult movies made in the future. I tend to make movies that no one wants to make. As a businessman, it is smart for to take these wonderful opportunities and big movies. So I feel if I can balance both.

Q: First up, though, is "The Town." How as it working with Ben as an actor and director? A: I was a little hesitant to play another heavy. But once I met Ben, I was convinced. He loves actors; it made the vibe on the set very comfortable.

Q: You'll be introducing the film in Modesto next weekend. Why did you want to do a benefit for the Gallo Center? A: I've been looking for a long time at ways to support the arts in Modesto. All my family is there, it's where I grew up. Modesto has been a good place for me. I decided to jump on the Gallo Arts Center coattails because of how much they've invested in downtown and the arts.

I want to help create awareness and excitement about arts in Modesto. I want them to believe and commit, know that the world is their oyster.

Q: You got a little local flak for a piece that ran in a UK paper earlier this year where the writer referred to Modesto as a "cow town." A: People like to run with whatever they can run with. I stand by what I said, which was Modesto is an amazing place to grow up, but for me as an actor, it was a great place to leave. Otherwise, I'd be stuck in community theater. But my feelings about the town are the complete opposite. It's been so good to me.

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