If Jeremy Renner’s career hadn’t suddenly gone stratospheric he could always have become America’s answer to Sarah Beeny.
He has been running a property renovation business with a friend since his early days as an actor, relying on it to pay his rent “when acting didn’t”.
Even though it has been a while since the two-time Oscar nominee has had to worry about that, he continues to develop houses. “I’m doing one now. It’s been a part of my life for a long time and I don’t plan on giving it up.
“I really enjoy doing it. It’s a tangible thing, one of the few things that I do in life that will still exist after the movies are gone.”
He would also impress Beeny with his steely attitude towards each project and his ability not to become too emotionally attached, despite the love and care he pours into them.
“It’s like having children. You don’t own your children. You want to give them the tools to succeed in life. Then they grow up and you give them the other tools to make it through life. You’re done parenting at that point, at least in my eyes.
“It’s the same thing with a house or anything else. You don’t own anything. You’re just lucky enough to share experiences together.”
House renovation is just one of the California native’s many talents, He is also a musician, a singer who can play guitar, keyboard and drums, and even worked as a make-up artist between acting gigs.
With all this on the go it is no wonder he says he doesn’t have time to relax with a good book.
“I’m a guy who has very limited time right now. I normally read to be educated. The last time I read for pleasure was 15 or 20 years ago.”
Which is why he hasn’t picked up Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series, even though he has inherited the “Bourne Legacy.”
But the 41-year-old is really taking the baton passed by Matt Damon and the Bourne film franchise.
He plays Aaron Cross who, like Bourne, was a product of the CIA’s black ops programme.
After Bourne exposed the operations, the CIA decides to clean house by eliminating the agents. However, Cross escapes and he shares all of Jason’s lethal skills but is fully aware of who he is and who made him what he is.
“Aaron Cross is a guy that wanted to belong. He’s a guy who wants to fit in and be a part of something, part of this team.
“He’s completely the opposite of Jason Bourne who was just trying to find out who the hell he was.”
It was this clear distinction between the characters that persuaded Jeremy to take the role after being approached to do it in a fittingly stealthy manner.
“Someone flew out to Germany where I was shooting Hansel and Gretel. They knocked on my door, handed me a script and said, ‘When you’re done with it, call this number…’ It was very spy-like. So I read it, loved it, and thought I’d be an idiot not to do it. The only qualm would have been if I was being asked to play Jason Bourne. So, it was really easy because I’m not.
“This film’s story runs parallel with the story of The Bourne Ultimatum, which is happening at the same time. It really opened up the parameters and the perspective on what that universe is.”
Bourne Legacy allows him to take centre stage after matching Tom Cruise for fighting moves in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and being part of the box office-busting Avengers Assemble, as the quietly lethal arrow-man Hawkeye.
He is entering his action phase somewhat late in his career having built his reputation in character roles.
Ten years ago he played the serial killer Jeffery Dahmer. He also cropped up as a soldier with a conscience in 28 Weeks Later but made his biggest impact as a bomb disposal expert in the ground-breaking The Hurt Locker. He received a best actor Oscar nomination for that. A nomination for best supporting actor followed, for his role as bank robber Ben Affleck’s loose canon best friend in The Town.
“I feel like the luckiest guy around. It’s nice to be able to work and it’s even nicer when people see your work. When it turns out well and does well at the box office, it’s even better. It’s a wonderful feeling,” he said.
He has now set up his own production company, The Combine, so he can make the kind of low-key but interesting films he has built his career on. Among the movies he plans to produce and also to star in a biopic about Steve McQueen.
“I think he’s an icon. I was never really a crazy rabid fan by any means. I just thought he was a really interesting guy.
“I think the things we know about him are only just the backdrop to who he is as a person. He’s a walking dichotomy. He’s the most generous and giving and at the same time he’s the most stingy and frugal. He’s constantly the polar opposite of himself.
“I can’t wait to jump into this project.”
The Bourne Legacy is released on Monday.