Exclusive Interview: Jeremy Renner Talks Wind River

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Over the past decade, Jeremy Renner has somewhat quietly become one of the most trusted and dependable actors in Hollywood. In addition to his work in critically acclaimed films like The Hurt Locker and Arrival, you can also find him in countless big budget franchises from Mission: Impossible to Bourne to Avengers.

In Wind River, the actor gives one of the best performances of his career. He takes the torrid past of his character Cory Lambert and wears it like a fire burning him from the inside, resulting in heartbreaking and beautifully understated work from the talented Renner.

Last week, we were lucky enough to catch up with him during the film’s press day and had the chance to talk about his experience making the movie, shooting in extremely cold conditions, his upcoming role in Avengers: Infinity War and much more.

Check it out below, and enjoy!

You give such a beautiful performance in Wind River. Your character Cory is dealing with a lot of demons but it’s that endurance and emotional restraint while that pain is bubbling underneath the surface that really makes the performance so incredible. Can you talk about working on the role?

Jeremy Renner: Yeah, I was just really attracted to the complexity of that character. The initial feeling on set was sort of to discover how to address all those things you just discussed. I thought it was going to be a bit more stoic. I realized very quickly in shooting it and being rational about applying it is that I needed to just do slow trickles of released emotion throughout the picture and then still have a cathartic moment at the end of it.

I just feel like I had to have the strength because the catharsis is in unleashing all the feelings that he’s having. I thought I was going to be better at restraint and having him be much more steel-like and stone-like but it ended up being much more of a slow burn of moments that allowed him to sort of decompress all the pressures that he’s going through.

I think the film’s lack of sentimentality really works to its advantage because it makes those later moments when it does peek through so much more affecting.

Jeremy Renner: Yeah, yeah.

Was this the most grueling set that you’ve worked on? I know you’ve done a few other crazy ones.

Jeremy Renner: No, I don’t think so. It’s actually really majestic and beautiful. We were shooting in Park City about an hour drive up into the mountains. The landscape is just as much a character in the movie as anyone else. So it was really important. It also just informs truths and decisions to be made within the storytelling because of the elements. So it only helps everybody.

I know it was difficult for the crew and for the logistics of snow: chasing snow, running away from snow and running towards the snow. You have to be pretty nimble on the production side of it. But for me, being on the set is just a ton of fun man. I love the snow and I loved the way we were snowmobiling around. We’re also dressed for the environment. Like, if I was cold and wet running around in that environment I’d probably find it unpleasant. But I was dry and warm enough and that’s it. I was glad we shot it there.

Cool. What about working with Taylor Sheridan? He’s written some incredible scripts but this was his first time directing off his own script.

Jeremy Renner: It’s a little more of a personal story to him. He spent time on a reservation. He was very clear of what he wanted but wasn’t sure of how he was going to get there. It’s an admirable quality, I think. Him being a great listener, as well, stopped him from being rigid and it allowed a lot of collaboration to happen. It was a great experience because of that.

So you’ve been working on Avengers: Infinity War. How’s that going? With all the characters in there, do you get to team up with any new ones for the first time?

Jeremy Renner: I don’t know how all that is going to work. I’m actually doing the bulk of my work from now until January.

This film and the forthcoming fourth one are proposed to be a culmination of this epic series that’s ten years strong. Even at the outset of your work, does it feel like this current journey is reaching a definitive end?

Jeremy Renner: I don’t know. The Marvel world is its own beast and they have their ideas and what they’ve got going on. I don’t know if it’s an end, or a new beginning, a different phase or what they’re looking to do but I’m sure they have a lot of irons in the fire right now.

Has there been any interest for your Hawkeye character to transition into the Netflix Marvel world?

Jeremy Renner: It’s not a decision I get to make. It’s not an option that has been on the table ever. But any way I get to explore the Clint Barton/Hawkeye character is always interesting to me.

Working on Wind River and such an incredibly layered character, what are the things that stick with you as you go to work on future roles?

Jeremy Renner: It’s movies like Wind River that make me want to get out of bed and go to work. Those movies excite me. Movies like The Hurt Locker, that are really challenging and small enough and collaborative enough. The Messenger…as an actor those are the types of roles I hope to be in my future.

That concludes our interview, but many thanks to Jeremy Renner for his time. Be sure to check out Wind River as well, as it’s in theaters now!

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