August 1, 2012 -- Leaving a Legacy (American Way)

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At 41, Jeremy Renner is finally hitting the big time as he takes over one of the most vaunted film franchises in history. So why is he already talking retirement?

Jeremy Renner is running late, and it’s hard to fault him for it.

Just a few days before our afternoon meeting in New York City, Renner flew in from Manila, Philippines, surmounting a 12-hour time difference. Basically from the moment he hit terra firma, he has been shooting scenes for The Bourne Legacy (opening Aug. 10), working almost around the clock against a heavy curtain of jet lag. And then, amid managing fatigue, a grueling work schedule and pesky press interviews, his dog died. TMZ and other media outlets picked up on the story immediately.

So when he steps out of his hotel lobby some 30 minutes late, mumbling a “sorry about that” as he settles into a pub seat, it’s difficult to hold a grudge against the guy. It’s a lot to handle all at once.

“I don’t know how that happened,” Renner says of the TMZ leak, which disclosed that at the time of the dog’s death, he was in the care of Renner’s best friend, Kristoffer Winters. “I’m not a big fan of how all that gets out. I’m mourning the death of my dog and stuff blows up about my best friend, who I call my brother, and I feel bad for him because he’s got to deal with it. I told him it would blow over. Just don’t read it. It’s pretty simple.”


Jeremy Renner in S.W.A.T.

The truth is, Jeremy Renner maintains that attitude across everything he does. He’s a pretty simple guy, or at least he — and the weighty pack of press clippings his publicist sent over ahead of our interview — gives off that impression. All the stories written about him follow a similar arc: Renner grew up in Modesto, Calif., the son of divorced parents but nonetheless happy, with nary a dream of making it in Hollywood. He’s always been incredibly close with his mother, Valerie, even accompanying her to Lamaze classes when he was a teen. (Renner later used those skills to guide one of his sisters through her pregnancy, and he is now the godfather of her child.)

At the encouraging of his father, a college administrator, he forwent the four-year university track and instead went to a community college in town, where after taking courses in criminology and computer science, he stumbled upon an acting class that got him hooked. Long before fame struck, which didn’t happen until he was nearly 40 years old, Renner was renovating houses with Winters, something he still does in his downtime.