How Jeremy Renner rose out of small-town California life to become one of the most consistent actors
Jeremy Renner is one of Hollywood’s most recognizable and successful stars – with a slew of acting credits, award nominations, and appearances in several high-profile franchises to his name.
Having been in the spotlight for decades, it seems almost impossible to believe that there was ever a time when the actor – now 51 – would have considered a career away from the screen.
Yet, as it turns out, he originally intended to take a very different path, one that would have seen him studying real criminals, rather than hunting them down on the big screen.
The actor, who hit the headlines recently after a horrific snowplow accident left him in ‘critical condition’ in hospital, was raised in a small California town by bowling alley manager parents as the oldest of seven siblings – and had originally set his heart on a career in criminology, before a chance decision to take an acting class revealed his love of performing.
Despite his incredibly consistent career, Renner, now 51, has somehow failed to achieve the same star power as his leading man co-stars, like Tom Cruise or Chris Evans – enabling him to enjoy a sense of privacy rarely afforded to such a high-profile name.
However, the walls that he has placed around his private life have been brought down several times – most notably as a result of his bitter legal battles with his ex-wife, Sonni Pacheco, over their daughter, Ava Berlin, which took a turn for the nasty when the model accused her former spouse of threatening to kill her.
Jeremy Renner’s breakthrough role came in 2009’s The Hurt Locker, directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Renner inside his snow plow. The 51-year-old is in a ‘critical’ condition after a ‘weather-related accident’
He shared an Instagram update from his hospital bed with a bruised face on Tuesday
He wed Canadian actress Pacheco when he was 43, but the union was brief, lasting only 10 months.
His privacy was shattered once again when it was revealed that Renner had been airlifted to a hospital near his remote home in Tahoe after he was involved in an accident with his snow cat plow that required him to undergo two surgeries.
On Tuesday, Renner posted an Instagram update from his hospital bed with a bruised face.
‘Thank you all for your kind words. Im (sic) too messed up now to type. But I send love to you all,’ he wrote.
The Marvel star came from humble beginnings, born to bowling alley managers who divorced when he was 10 and went on to become a bonafide Hollywood star, earning two Academy Award nominations before starring in three major film franchises – Marvel, Mission: Impossible and Bourne.
But it’s not always been smooth sailing for Renner who discovered his love of acting at the age of 19 while studying criminology at college before moving to LA where he lived on Top Ramen and 29-cent burgers at McDonald’s at the start of his career.
That’s why he turned to flipping houses as a side hustle for a more stable stream of income. Using his earnings from the movie, S.W.A.T., to invest in his first home he bought for more than $600,000 before turning a $300,000 profit on the property.
Small-town boy whose bowling alley manager parents divorced when he was 10
The eldest of seven children, Renner grew up in the small Californian town of Modesto where his dad and mum, Lee and Valerie, managed a bowling alley before they divorced when he was 10 years old.
During a 2015 interview on The Ellen Show, the actor revealed there was a 42-year difference between him and his youngest brother, adding his dad became a father again the same week Renner’s daughter, Ava, was born.
The divorce was ‘tough’ on Renner and it led to childhood where he would end up moving around a lot.
Renner with his mother, Valerie, at the Academy Awards in 2011
‘I thought it was normal to change school once, sometimes twice a year and have to be shy around new sets of people,’ he told the UK’s The Telegraph in 2011.
‘But kids are resilient and, actually, my parents ended up living across the street from one another — they still do today. Still, at the time it was tough.’
But he did remain in Modesto, which Renner describes as ‘a great kind of Middle America-feeling small town’, where he attended high school, and was quite an athlete and honed his musical skills, according to Women’s Wear Daily (WWD).
The actor (left) is pictured with his family at the S.W.A.T. premiere in 2003
In addition to being in a band – initially getting into drumming before turning his head to song writing, he played soccer, baseball and ran track. He also could bowl a 225 average at just 12.
He also recalls always being employed as kid whether it being the paper boy or washing cars.
‘I just kind of had that drive to work to do things I wanted to do. I’ve always had a will to be curious,’ he told WWD.
Discovers his love of acting at 19 while studying criminology at college before moving to LA, living on a $10-a-month food budget
College is where Renner discovered his love of acting while he was studying criminology.
He was 19 when he signed up to take theatre classes at Modesto Junior College, telling Men’s Health it saw him release ’19 years of emotional repression.’
‘I was very shy when I was younger,’ he told The Telegraph.
‘But I did have a terrible temperament. I would get angry very quickly, but the rest of the time I was this big goofball, playing the drums in a band and making out with girls.
Renner played Scarecrow (pictured left) in the Modesto Junior College production of the Wizard Of Oz
‘When I was growing up, I wasn’t taught how to feel or communicate feelings.
‘I suppose normally people are inadvertently taught those things by family or the people they surround themselves by in life, but I felt I’d found this thing on my own, away from my friends – this one little compartment in life where I was allowed to do and feel whatever I wanted to feel, truthfully.’
Renner went on to play Scarecrow in his college’s 1990 production of The Wizard Of Oz.
His first paid gig as an actor was actually playing a bad guy to help train police academy cadets.
‘I’m at Modesto Junior College and this guy comes in and says, “Hey, you wanna make $50?”’ he told the Los Angeles Times.
He landed his first movie role in National Lampoon’s Senior Trip in 1995 (above) after moving to LA in his 20s. He said he lived off Top Ramen and two-for-29-cent burgers from McDonald’s
He played Mark ‘Dags’ D’Agastino, an underachieving student, after discovering acting in college while studying criminology
‘They put me in this room the size of a closet and said, “They’ve got a call about a guy creating a ruckus. We want you to resist arrest.” “Got it.” He comes in, “Calm down, sir.” I start freaking out and kick him in the balls. It was fun.’
Renner would eventually move to LA in his early 20s to pursue his acting dream, where the search for meaningful roles left him on a $10-a-month food budget which saw him living on Top Ramen and two-for-29-cent burgers from McDonald’s as a treat.
The then 20-something-year-old was left without water and power for months after he was left unable to pay for basic utilities.
The actor is pictured here in an Entertainment Weekly interview in 1995
Renner’s career has spanned 27 years and was a slow-burning rise as he struggled to make ends meet. Pictured left in 2003 and right in 2002
He’s seen here in the 2002 movie, Dahmer, for which he earned a Spirit Award nomination. He was reportedly paid $50 a day for the role
Despite being cast in his Spirit Award-nominated role as the titular role of 2002’s Dahmer, he still struggled to make ends meet as he was paid just $50 a day, Men’s Health reported.
But he’s barely been without work over the past 27 years from playing underachieving teen student Mark ‘Dags’ D’Agastino in the 1995 film, National Lampoon’s Senior Trip, to arguably his most recognizable role as Hawkeye in the MCU.
After years of struggling in LA, his breakout role came in 2008 when he played Army explosives expert Staff Sergeant William James in the Kathryn Bigelow-directed The Hurt Locker.
His big break, two Oscar nominations and the Marvel universe
Renner’s big break came relatively late in his career with The Hurt Locker, a movie released in 2009 that earned him his first Academy Award nomination at 39 in the best actor category.
But it was an experience that he’d rather not relive as he got food poisoning that caused him to lose 15 pounds in three days, fell down the stairs during filming and suffered through the brutal 129F heat of Jordan, where The Hurt Locker was shot.
‘The oppressive heat does something to your brain, and on top of that I was in this bomb suit, and I had explosive diarrhoea, so was I like, ‘Get this thing off me! I’ve got to find a hole somewhere!’ I hate to say it, but it made me a really cranky c***. I wanted to punch a lot of people,’ he told The Times in 2010.
At the age of 39, he earned an Academy Award nomination for The Hurt Locker (pictured)
After years of struggling in LA, he played Army explosives expert Staff Sergeant William James in the Kathryn Bigelow-directed film
Renner starred in The Hurt Locker with Brian Geraghty (left) and Anthony Mackie (center)
Renner added: ‘Will I go out and shoot in the desert again for Hurt Locker II? Go f*** yourself. You couldn’t pay me enough money. Even if I wanted to, I just couldn’t — literally couldn’t — do it.’
Upon hearing the news of his first nomination, he told fellow actor Ben Affleck in an Oprah.com interview: ‘It was the most pure high you could ever feel. I’m sure you felt it. But for me, at 39 and doing it for 20 years, it was just exhilarating. My face hurt, I couldn’t stop smiling for a week.’
From this challenging role, he went on to play the volatile friend and partner of Affleck’s character, James ‘Jem’ Coughlin, in 2010’s The Town, which earned him a second Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor.
‘When I first read the script, I didn’t understand him (Jem) at all. He was electric on the page, but I didn’t know why he did these crazy things,’ Renner told the LA Times in 2010.
Renner then went on to star in Ben Affleck’s The Town in 2010, playing James ‘Jem’ Coughlin (pictured)
He also appeared alongside in Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible franchise. The pair are pictured in 2015’s Rogue Nation
‘What ended up working for me was making it all about brotherhood and loyalty. Those are things that are strong in my life, so I could connect with them.’
From here, his star kept rising with him landing roles in major franchises – Mission Impossible, Bourne and the MCU.
Renner described how he ended up working with Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol in a Vanity Fair video, with his day beginning very different while meeting with J.J. Abrams about another movie, Super 8, when the Hollywood director asked him about what he thought about the action franchise.
‘I’m like “Yeah, they’re great movies. I love them. So anyway, Super 8 -,”’ Renner recalled before Abrams interrupted him and asked him if he wanted to meet with Cruise.
The actor said he then found himself in a meeting with Cruise who told him about the movie and asked him if he wanted to be in it.
‘I’m like, “Well, all this sounds really amazing, you guys, but why me?”’ Renner recalled.
He’s starred in three franchises, including 2012’s The Bourne Legacy as Aaron Cross
Hailee Steinfeld and Renner together in Disney+ series Hawkeye, with him playing the titular role
Hawkeye alongside Chris Evans’ Captain America and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow in 2011’s The Avengers
‘And they’re like, “Well because we look at you and you can be a good guy or a bad guy. People might be on the fence. You’re like a coiled spring.” I’m like, “Great, I understand that.”’
Renner said he didn’t say yes or no to the job initially before getting a call from Cruise himself.
‘First of all, how does Tom Cruise have my home line?’ he continued.
‘I’m like, “Hello.” “Hey, it’s Tom.” “Hey, what’s up, man?” And he said, “Do you wanna do it or not?” I’m like, “Yeah, of course I’ll do it.”
‘So that’s how I got the role. And I didn’t know what the script was or the character was, and I mean how could I say no? It was just a strange, odd thing.’
Renner pictured with his Marvel cast members, including Robert Downey Jr. (front left), Johannson (front second left) and Chris Hemsworth (front right) in 2019
Avengers Assemble! Kevin Feige, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Downey Jr., Johansson, Renner and Mark Ruffalo
Renner, who played William Brandt in Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation, said he learned so much from Cruise about doing stunts as an actor.
‘Tom taught me a lot about an actor in the stunt world and treating it like that’s a big part of the job and how to prepare your body enough to go through the punishment, which got my brain thinking about stunts in a different way, which really started a trajectory for me in the stunt world,’ he said.
‘And I loved it ‘cause I’ve always been athletic… and now I got to sort of use those skills in the acting world. That’s why the action movies are just as fun to me as like some character-driven movie ‘cause there’s lots of challenges and things to overcome in those types of films.
Renner with Johansson at her Hollywood Walk of Fame Star Ceremony in 2012
‘In the stunts… jeez, Tom is just an absolute genius maniac. This guy’s insane. But it inspired me to be the best I could be.’
Renner also took over from Matt Damon in the Bourne franchise, in The Bourne Legacy as Aaron Cross, as well as taking on the role of Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye – the bow and arrow-wielding superhero in the more than $50 billion Marvel franchise.
The latter saw him appear in a handful of films from The Avengers to Captain America: Civil War and saw him get his own Disney+ series, Hawkeye.
His 10-month marriage to Sonni Pacheco, accusations he threatened to kill her and gay rumors
Renner was married to Canadian actress Sonni Pacheco for just 10 months before splitting in 2014.
It was eventually agreed the next year the actor would pay $13,000 a month in child support for their then two-year-old daughter, Ava, according to TMZ, but the legal battles in relation to their child have continued through the years.
Years later, in 2019, Pacheco accused the Hawkeye star of threatening to kill her and then himself.
She alleged Renner was at a club while high on coke and drunk when he told someone he ‘could not deal with her (Pacheco) anymore, and he just wanted her gone.’
Sonni Pacheco pictured with Renner and their daughter, Ava, in 2016. The couple was married for just 10 months and split in 2014
He keeps his daughter out of the public eye. He’s pictured here with her in an Instagram photo
The legal documents obtained by TMZ also claimed Renner put a gun in his mouth and threatened to kill himself before firing it into the ceiling as his daughter slept in her bedroom.
Renner denied these allegations in more court filings and through his representative who told TMZ in 2019: ‘The well-being of his daughter Ava has always been and continues to be the primary focus for Jeremy. This is a matter for the court to decide.
‘It’s important to note the dramatizations made in Sonni’s declaration are a one-sided account made with a specific goal in mind.’
When asked about Pacheco’s claims during a 2021 interview with Men’s Health, Renner said: ‘I don’t respond publicly or privately to nonsense.
‘It only empowers it. . . . If you respond to it, you give it gas. I don’t fuel s*** fires. I just don’t do it. I refuse to.’
Renner has also shared the difficulties of how he balances time with his daughter and his work schedule.
‘I see anything that takes me away from my daughter, whether it’s something good like making Mission: Impossible 5 or something bad like my divorce, as a distraction and an obstacle,’ he told Playboy, according to ABC News.
‘I see anything that takes me away from my daughter, whether it’s something good like making Mission: Impossible 5 (Renner pictured with Ving Rhames) or something bad like my divorce, as a distraction and an obstacle,’ he said
Renner played William Brandt in Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation
‘Now, if anything takes me away and I don’t get to see her, I just won’t do it. I don’t care what you pay me … [Sonni and I] split the time with Ava equally now. When it’s Daddy and Ava time, that’s all I do.’
Renner revealed in a 2015 interview on The Ellen Show he flew back ‘pretty much every other week’ to see his daughter while shooting a movie in London.
‘I did like 40 flights back. From London to here pretty much every other week,” Renner said.
‘[I] see her sometimes for eight hours and then fly back.’
Renner also risked his Marvel job to have more time with his daughter after this grueling time.
‘It taught me how to have the nuts to say, “Everyone, fuck off. It’s my time with my daughter,”‘ he told Men’s Health.
The actor was told it was a battle he might not win, but he held his ground.
‘I said, ‘Fine, recast me. I’m going to be here with my daughter.” It was pretty gnarly,’ he said.
In the Playboy interview, as per Entertainment Weekly, he also addressed rumors he was gay: ‘When you Google yourself and the first thing that comes up is “Jeremy Renner gay,” it’s like, “Oh, now you’ve arrived. You’re now a giant movie star.”
‘So I just had a big laugh about it. I don’t care, ultimately, if that’s what people want to think, read and care about.… Look at where we’re at socially – leaps and bounds ahead of where we started.
‘That’s an amazing thing. To suggest that it’s negative, that being gay is a terrible thing, a perversion or whatever – I just don’t get it. Don’t you wish we were in a world where we’re not shaming, judging and boxing people in?’
Renner’s lucrative house-flipping venture that’s made him millions and a failed app
Despite being a Hollywood success, Renner has a lucrative side hustle: house flipping.
A 2016 Bloomberg article said The Town star had bought and renovated more than 20 homes in 15 years, including a 1920s art deco mansion and a Lake Tahoe cabin.
He started a business with friend and actor Kristoffer Ryan Winters who he refers to as his ‘brother.’ It started in 2002 when the pair bought a three-bedroom home in Nichols Canyon in Los Angeles’ Hollywood Hills for $659,000. They sold it months later for $900,000.
‘This acting thing doesn’t pay. We make money in real estate. And that affords me, as an actor, to not have to take things because I need money,’ Renner told WWD.
Despite being a Hollywood success, Renner has a lucrative side hustle: house flipping
In 2013, Renner reportedly bought this Holmby Hills mansion for $7 million at auction and renovated it
‘I call it f***-you money. “No, I don’t need your goddamned movie; f*** you, I’ll go build another house with my brother.” I love saying f*** you, too.’
Speaking about that first house flip with Howard Stern, Renner said he reinvested the ‘little bit of money’ he earned from the 2003 movie, S.W.A.T., as well as the earnings Winters made from another project.
‘Let’s pool our money together and at least we’re investing in something in the future,’ he said in 2017.
‘We didn’t really mean to sell it, we just wanted a roof over our heads.
‘Then we fixed it up a little bit as we wanted to do it, and then they offered a lot of money.’
At the time, Renner said it had been his biggest pay day to date.
He sold that six-bedroom, 11-bathroom home on two acres of land for close to $24 million
The Reserve was sold to British real estate mogul Christian Candy
He told Howard Stern about his venture, telling him in 2017 he’s flipped 27 houses with his friend, Kristoffer Ryan Winters
‘I build houses now more for me and my family essentially,’ he continued.
‘There’s been about 27 [houses] that my brother and I have done… it was a great, empowering sort of thing.
‘I could always just say I don’t have to do another movie, I can go build another house.’
Renner also revealed he would move into the houses he was flipping to save money when he was ‘broke.’
‘A lot of times you wouldn’t have water or electricity,’ he said.
‘We were doing that all the way up until The Hurt Locker. I literally had to brush my teeth in a Starbucks because we had no running water as I got in a limo to go to the Academy Awards.’
Renner also launched a failed app in 2017 where it was meant to be a platform for the star to connect with his fans. The above statement was released when he announced its demise
From the money he made from the first house, Renner and Winters invested in a 1940 Spanish-style home they bought for $915,000 and later sold for almost $2.4 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Another property they flipped, a 1924 Greek Revival estate in Hollywood dubbed the Hemingway House purchased for $1.55 million in 2008 before selling it a year later for upwards of $4 million.
In 2013 the publication reported Renner bought a Holmby Hills mansion for $7 million at auction and renovated it. He sold that six-bedroom, 11-bathroom home, named The Reserve, on two acres of land for close to $24 million.
Renner also launched a failed app in 2017 where it was meant to be a platform for the star to connect with his fans, the LA Times reported.
It had been plagued with allegations the app fostered a toxic environment for fans and trolls started creating fake accounts pretending to be Renner. There were also accusations of censorship and rigging.
‘What was supposed to be a place for fans to connect with each other has turned into a place that is everything I detest and can’t or won’t condone,’ Renner said in a statement when he announced the app’s demise.
‘My sincere apologies for this to have not turned out the way it was intended.’
Jeremy Renner airlifted to hospital with ‘extensive injuries’ after running over his leg with snowcat
Marvel actor Jeremy Renner was airlifted to hospital on Sunday with ‘extensive injuries’ after the snowcat he was using to plow his driveway ran him over.
Renner, a two-time Oscar nominee, was alone and trying to clear a path out of his Lake Tahoe home with his PistenBully, a type of snow groomer made by the German manufacturer Kassbohrer.
TMZ reports that the vehicle’s safety features failed, and caused it to roll over Renner’s leg, around a quarter mile from the property.
A neighbor who is also a doctor put a tourniquet on the injured leg to stem the bleeding, but Renner suffered significant blood loss by the time he was airlifted out of the scene at 9.50am.
The 51-year-old remains in critical but stable condition in the hospital.
TMZ cites sources close to the star who say he suffered injuries on other parts of his body and not just the leg.
It’s unclear how long he’s owned the PistenBully groomer, or whether he bought it second-hand.
Kassbohrer did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s inquiries on Monday morning.
The type of PistenBully Renner owns is no longer available for sale on the company’s website.
Similar models are described on second-hand sale sites as ‘vintage’.
The actor’s representatives confirmed yesterday that his family was with him in the hospital.
‘We can confirm Jeremy is in critical but stable condition with injuries suffered after experiencing a weather related accident while plowing snow earlier today.
‘His family is with him and he is receiving excellent care.’
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-11592687/How-Jeremy-Renner-rose-small-town-California-life-one-consistent-actors.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 How Jeremy Renner rose out of small-town California life to become one of the most consistent actors