For his part, Renner downplays the idea that the future of the franchise rests on his shoulders; he knows he hasn’t fully been given the keys to the car just yet.
“Is that [thought] there? Sure,” he says. “But it also has to do well. Everyone at Universal, the writers, everyone wants it to do well. I want it to do well. But if it doesn’t do well, there’s no baton to be passed.”
Fortunately for Renner, the response in anticipation of the film’s release has been overwhelmingly positive, with critics and film buffs hailing it as one of the most anticipated movies of 2012. “The filmmakers have pulled a neat swerve and replaced Damon with one of the most exciting American actors around,” said The Observer’s Tom Lamont of Renner, with CinemaBlend.com’s David Wharton adding, “Jason Bourne’s legacy looks to be in good hands.”
Renner shrugs off the praise. “We’ll see,” he says. “Moviemaking’s tough. I think people will be really happy with it. But yeah, baton, nah.”
But should it be a commercial success, would he do more? “I am happy to do another one, let’s put it that way,” he admits. And considering that Renner isn’t taking over Damon’s Jason Bourne role but is playing another agent, Aaron Cross, he and director Tony Gilroy have purposely left the possibility open for Damon’s return. “I told Matt I would love for us both to do the next one together,” Renner told Entertainment Weekly.
But if Damon wants a collaboration to happen, he’d better hurry. Renner, 41, makes no bones about the fact that he doesn’t plan on continuing at this rapid clip much longer. He hopes to retire, he says, at 45. As in, in four years.
“I think it’s something that I’ll always do, don’t get me wrong,” he says. “My definition of retirement is doing what you want to do when you want to do it and for no other reason. I’ll always be acting, whether it’s community theater, Broadway, an independent film or a big franchise. I’ll always be doing it — but because I want to do it.”
The hard line in the sand — and you truly believe it when it comes from Renner’s mouth — is that he’ll never stick around this (potentially) lucrative business for the money. It’s just not his style. Instead, he intends to leave a mark that goes beyond The Bourne Legacy, beyond acting, beyond fame. His lasting contributions, he insists, are what he’s accomplished outside of Hollywood.
“If there’s a legacy that you can leave in life, it’s what you do,” he says. “That’s what I love about building houses. Those structures and those trees that I’ve planted will live long after I’m gone. And I feel good about those things and what they mean — to the planet and to the people that inhabit it.”
Like most things with Renner, it’s pretty simple.
COURTNEY HAZLETT reports on pop culture for MSNBC and Today.com from New York City.