Jeremy Renner bares how he injured himself on ‘Tag’ set
LOS ANGELES—“I just go with this look, like I just rolled out of bed,” Jeremy Renner quipped with a laugh to describe his personal style. Well, maybe you can see that in his semi-pompadour/bed hair. But sartorially, he looked sharp in a gray suit, black shirt and cool gray sneakers this morning at the Four Season Hotel in LA.
The 47-year-old actor costars in “Tag,” a comedy based on a story in The Wall Street Journal about a real-life group of friends known for playing a monthlong game of tag. In one of the movie’s elaborate tag stunt scenes, Jeremy fractured his right elbow and left wrist.
Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, Isla Fisher, Hannibal Buress, Annabelle Wallis and Jake Johnson costar.
We got to ask Jeremy about acting with Jon Jon Briones’ son, Teo Briones, who played his kid in “Wind River,” one of the films loved by the critics last year.
The star of “The Bourne Legacy,” which was filmed partly in the Philippines, provides the voice of Swifty in the animated film, “Arctic Justice.”
A man whose other passion is house renovation and flipping, Jeremy dotes on Ava Berlin, 5, his daughter with ex-wife, model Sonni Pacheco.
Excerpts from out chat:
In real life, do you have a group of friends like in this movie? Yeah, they are called “The Avengers (laughs).” No, not since childhood. I moved around a lot. But in high school, I got a really core group of friends who are really tight.
But here in LA, there are 45 people that I know that are strong and solid. We did softball and typical types of activities that friends might do. I am a very loyal friend and I have lots of loyal friends. But no, I have nothing like that in real life.
Because that is what also makes this movie special—that these guys have been doing it since they were 9 or 10. And they still do it in their 50s. It’s pretty amazing.
What kind of games do you play with your daughter? We played tag yesterday. We do it in different variations. Tag back in New Zealand is called tiggy. We also play “What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?” Then, we chase each other around.
Are you a good loser? Yeah. At this point in my age, I don’t care. I’m really competitive only with myself. I don’t care about a board game, this or that.
How did you injure yourself on the set? It was a stunt rig that kept breaking. We tried to do it practical. And we did it like three, four or five times. It was an accident, and I just fell and the chairs didn’t. We went up and did it again (laughs) and I went, “OK, we should probably stop. This is starting to hurt.” Then, I came back from lunch and finished the day.
Injury aside, there is wonderful physicality in your role. A standout was your chair surfing in a church. Are you impressed with your own agility? I am never impressed (laughs). As I said, I’m a competitor only to myself. That was the actual stunt where I busted my arms. That was where I was competing, because I knew it was going to be my face, and I knew the stunt.
I was competing with myself, but only because I knew I could do it better and make the stunt look good. It was supposed to be smooth, and I wanted to fly down like the Silver Surfer to these guys.
But it was fun, man—all that physicality of it. And then, to be clued in with the audience just made it even more fun, because they’re all along on the journey with you.
Did the real guys whose story this film was based on show up on the set? Yeah, they did. I wasn’t there that day when they came. But they came to my house, 10 to 12 of them. We had a big party with the cast and all the real guys.
Do you still train in arnis, the Filipino martial art? I haven’t done it in probably a few years. There were a bunch of those martial arts that I did.
One of my buddies who initially taught me arnis was just over my house the other day. We were doing yoga, instead of fighting with sticks (laughs). But yeah, arnis is a sort of base of any movement, especially your hand-to-hand stuff. It’s like walking—to sprint, you have to know how to walk, right? So it’s a good base for any kind of martial arts, which I love.
One of the critically acclaimed films last year was “Wind River.” Can you talk about Teo Briones, who played your son? Teo was growing so fast during filming. We only shot eight weeks, but we were losing our little boy. He was growing into a man. He and I had a lot to do in the movie that, unfortunately, didn’t make it into the movie, which he was a little bummed about.
I said, “Dude, it doesn’t matter. All you need is one moment.” And we had a lot of wonderful moments together. Whether it was off- or on-camera, it doesn’t matter. We had a wonderful connection. He is a beautiful spirit, a beautiful kid. I was happy to share some screen time with him.
How much did you enjoy working on “Knightfall”? Are you a history buff? I like things that are based on truth. “Tag” is obviously based on a true story. That has more value to me, and there’s a weight to it. I’m not a history guy so much, but my buddy Don Handfield (cocreator) partnered up on it (with Richard Rayner) and those guys are more history guys. But I appreciated it, and I like the origins of ideas. Like the fall of the Knights Templar, and what that was. So, “Knightfall” just seemed interesting to me.
And don’t get me wrong. I have a bunch of swords under my bed since I was 19. I just love knights, eating food on plates and the simplicity of a caveman. I love that kind of stuff.
Was it your first time to play a knight? I never played one, and I always wanted to. I had a dream job when I was 24. I wanted to be a Robin Hood type of character. Hawkeye—that was interesting, but I would love being Braveheart.
The “Untitled Avengers Movie” will be out in 2019. I am presuming that you are going to show up in that one. Yes, unless I am playing tag again.
Any word on a follow-up to “The Bourne Legacy”? I have no idea. That is outside my pay grade. I am always happy to do it before I am 70 (laughs).
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.
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