3: The Assassination of Jesse James
Here’s a role that came before Renner’s big surge of recognition in The Hurt Locker, and so it’s not one I or many people will probably remember him terribly well for. It’s one of those parts that you look back on and think oh hey, I noticed how great this one character was back when I watched it, and I had no idea that actor would turn out to be Jeremy Renner. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is an odd little movie, at once gorgeous-looking and deliberately (read: slowly) paced and enigmatically presented.
Renner plays the strange little scoundrel and cousin of Jesse James, Wood Hite. Overshadowed by the roles played by Brad Pitt and Sam Rockwell, and rightly so, Renner delivers a solid and idiosyncratic performance as Wood, using his lesser stature to great effect and eventually serving as the catalyst to the main action of the story through his feud with Dick Liddil. Renner gets the inferiority complex of the character just right.
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