Jeremy Renner Once Worried That ‘The Bourne Legacy’ Might Be His ‘Nail in the Coffin’

Actor Jeremy Renner was hesitant to take on the lead role in The Bourne Legacy. If only because even though it might boost his acting career, it might mark the end of him being an artist.

Why Tony Gilroy cast Jeremy Renner in ‘The Bourne Legacy’

Jeremy Renner at a 'Hawkeye' New York fan screening.
Jeremy Renner | Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Disney

Screenwriter Tony Gilroy played a huge part in the original Bourne franchise, but he played an even bigger part in Bourne Legacy. After having written a couple of Damon’s Bourne movies, he was tasked to direct a fourth film.

Since original Bourne director Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon were against returning to the franchise, Gilroy started fresh with a new spy. And for Gilroy, the perfect actor to portray his new spy was Hawkeye star Jeremy Renner.

“We looked at a number of people when we very first started out and I think we kept coming back to Jeremy,” Legacy producer Crowley once said according to IndieWire. “There’s an accessibility to him, there’s a vulnerability to him which maybe a more polished actor might not communicate to the audience, and his physicality made a huge difference to us.”

It also helped that Renner was still a bit of a star in the making at this point. Crowley felt this made it easier for fans to buy Renner in the role.

“He’s still sort of evolving from the audience’s perception: ‘Who is this guy? What does he bring? I like him, but I don’t know why I want to see more of him,'” Crowley theorized.

Jeremy Renner once thought ‘The Bourne Legacy’ would be the nail in the coffin for his artistry

2012 already saw Renner star in several high profile movies. From The Avengers to Mission Impossible, Renner’s career was gaining more and more exposure in the film industry. But his growing popularity led to him being hesitant about taking the lead role in Bourne Legacy.

“The offer wasn’t about a movie, this was about a life choice,” he once said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly (via Contact Music). “In Mission, it’s a Tom Cruise movie. The Avengers is ensemble-y, but [Bourne Legacy] is a game changer.”

Legacy was going to be one of the first major movies he was going to lead on his own. This presented a huge concern for the star.

“I thought, ‘This is going to affect how I walk down the street. It’s going to affect what happens when I go into a restaurant,'” he added. “I can’t even believe I’m saying this, but is this going to affect the next 20 years of my life?”

Although Legacy might benefit his Hollywood career, he was concerned it would have consequences for his more artistic lifestyle.

“As an artist, am I putting a nail in the coffin of my artistic sensibility?” he wondered.

Jeremy Renner on if there were any plans to return to ‘The Bourne Legacy’

Eventually, the Bourne films would put focus back on the titular character of Jason Bourne with Matt Damon. This left the fate of Renner’s own Aaron Cross up in the air. But in an interview with Collider, Renner confided that he wouldn’t mind revisiting the Legacy world again.

“I mean, the willingness on my part is there cause that to me is where a movie … Like we were talking about the differences between a big movie and then like a small movie, as far as like maybe budget,” Renner said. “Well, this is when that in shooting Bourne Legacy there’s a lot of complexity in the character and it felt like shooting a small independent movie only because, not so much cause of the budget, just because there’s a small team.”

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