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With the critical and commercial success of The Town, out on DVD this month, Jeremy Renner proves he’s one to watch.

It was around this time last year that the low-budget film The Hurt Locker was starting to garner serious Oscar attention, thanks in large part to Jeremy Renner’s star-making turn as a U.S. Army sergeant. (It later won the award for Best Picture.) The praise was long overdue for Renner, 39, a Hollywood veteran of nearly two decades who has played a wide variety of parts, from high school goof-off to serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. His rising tide continued with September’s The Town (above), a Boston-based heist flick directed by and co-starring Ben Affleck. With the film’s DVD release this month, American Way caught up with Renner about learning the business of bank robbing and what’s on tap for him next year.

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Was The Town your biggest box-office success to date?
Yeah, I think so. Usually when a movie is critically acclaimed, that’s a killer at the box office. The Town ended up getting a little bit of both, so it’s pretty tremendous.

And did you really hang out with former bank robbers to get into character?
They were on our movie set all the time. Guys who used to rob banks for a living — none of them would say they are doing it currently. They were a big influence. To them, robbing banks is a trade, a profession. They take it very seriously.

After playing this part, do you think you could pull off a real heist?
No, no. [Laughs] That’s the thing — I could never rob a bank. I would probably shoot myself in the foot before I made it through the door.

A lot of your roles have been risky, edgy characters.
Because they’re exciting. Librarians across the world are going to hate me, but I don’t think I want to play a librarian, because that’s not interesting. It’s got to be complicated. It’s got to be interesting to me.

Next up is Mission: Impossible — GHOST PROTOCOL, with Tom Cruise. How does that differ from the movies you’ve done before?

This is a big movie. Pure entertainment. Very physical. I’ve been working with a stunt guy and a fight coordinator. I’m going to have to do stuff I’ve never done before — some martial arts, and how to take people down very quickly and efficiently and effortlessly. And it’s on my shoulders to make it look good or bad.

When you finally get a chance to unwind from these heavy roles, what do you do?
I’ve been remodeling old homes with my brother for the last nine or 10 years. That’s kept me busy. It was going to be a business model to make money, but then it became about artistry — architecture and interior design and landscape design. You can touch it, feel it. It’s become this very tangible art form that I don’t really have in my working life.