Jeremy Renner dispels doubts in The Bourne Legacy
Any worry about not having Matt Damon was dispelled with the casting of Jeremy Renner in The Bourne Legacy, writes Caris Bizzaca
The Bourne Legacy director Tony Gilroy says casting Jeremy Renner was like finding himself in an arranged marriage.
“I saw The Hurt Locker 18 times after I was casting him, because then I was like, ‘oh my God, we’re married, who am I married to?’” he says.
“It’s sort of like an arranged marriage in a way. You’re looking at every possible piece of information you can get about him, so I watched everything that he did.”
The more Gilroy saw, the more he knew he had made the right choice about who would play agent Aaron Cross, the new star of the Bourne franchise.
“We needed a great actor, we needed a great athlete and we were looking for someone that wasn’t completely already pinned down in the audience’s mind exactly,” Gilroy says.
Apart from Renner’s Oscar-nominated role in The Hurt Locker he has appeared in The Avengers and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, but Gilroy felt while he was recognisable, people “didn’t know him in detail”.
The Bourne Legacy is the fourth film in the franchise and the first not to star Matt Damon, who followed director Paul Greengrass by walking away from the franchise after The Bourne Ultimatum.
Gilroy, who wrote the first three movies, came on board as writer/director and decided to expand on the story.
“I knew that there had to be another (CIA) program that was threatened by what had happened at the end of Ultimatum,” he says.
Renner’s Aaron Cross is an agent within that threatened program, Outcome, and Ultimatum and Legacy overlap as it’s the actions of Jason Bourne that trigger his story.
Gilroy says unlike Bourne, who suffers from amnesia, Cross knows who he is.
“He’s part of a different program with a different job,” he says.
“He’s not an assassin, he’s a spy.”
While the main characters are different, Gilroy says fans of the Bourne franchise can expect the same level of reality and authenticity that made the original movies so popular.
“I think that’s what sets them apart (from other spy films),” he says.
“That’s what’s been so successful over the past 12-13 years. People expect things to be real.”
Taking over the Bourne franchise, Gilroy’s biggest fear was just the sheer size of it.
Filming took them to locations all over the planet, including New York City, Seoul, Manila and Calgary – an icy spot in the Canadian Rockies.
Renner, who does the majority of his own stunts, says alarm bells never went off when he read about Aaron swimming in frigid waters and scaling snow-capped mountains.
“You’d think after all this time I would think about those things, but no, I thought ‘oh this is cool, this is going to be awesome’,” he says. “And then you go, ‘wait, wait! Hold on a second’.”
Gilroy adds: “We were both saying the same thing. We were like, what are we doing?”
Renner says, on the other hand, he does like to throw himself into roles that push him.
“I find challenges in the work and that’s what I go for,” he says.
The Bourne Legacy is the second spy movie Renner has done in as many years and he admits he was a fan of the genre growing up.
Coincidentally his Legacy co-star Rachel Weisz, who plays a scientist that teams up with Cross, is actually married to James Bond himself, Daniel Craig.
So did Craig ever turn up to show Renner how a 007 agent does it?
“He was on set,” Gilroy says. “Yeah,” adds Renner. “Then The Hulk showed up and beat us both up.”
The Bourne Legacy (M) is out at Australian cinemas now.
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Re-Bourne: Jeremy Renner stars as Aaron Cross in The Bourne Legacy.