Jeremy Renner stars in the new drama thriller Kill the Messenger as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb, a different type of hero than, say, his Hawkeye in Marvel’s The Avengers. Between spoonfuls of onion soup on an interview-heavy day, Mr. Renner took a few minutes to share with us his five favorite films. Here’s hoping the soup was almost as hot as these films; take a look:
Do you remember what it felt like to watch it for the first time?
I’d say Christmas, to me. The memory of, you know, dancing around with my dad, goofing around, he was pretending to be Baloo and I was pretending to be Mowgli. Then we’d switch roles and I’d be Kaa and he’d be, you know, Shere Khan. And it was awesome, man. It’s really, really cinematic and a big part of my childhood and now my big adult childhood.
Anything that brings back good memories of childhood is always a good choice.
Yeah, I’m teaching my daughter to learn how to play “The Bare Necessities” on the piano. Love it! And the themes, of course, are all great as they are in all those movies, and all the songs.
Braveheart was another one that sort of encapsulates a lot of themes, and it’s very cinematic, it’s beautiful. I love the simplicity of that world, I’m a cowboy at heart. And I just love the idea of sort of, like, meat and hands and dirt and filth. I think the action was tremendous and violent and brutal. I thought the love story was delicate and romantic and beautiful and deeply felt. I love the sort of underdog themes: every man in his circumstance, these are things that sort of run deep in my body. The performances were great. I feel like if I was born in another era, it would be in that time or it’s a time I would like to be in. Really, really fantastic.
A Clockwork Orange I’ve seen about 35 times. I remember first seeing that and I certainly didn’t get half the movie, but when I was young, I just thought it was just kind of weird and strange and I really appreciated it as I got a little older and saw it more often and more often. Then it became this sort of like a party background movie, something that just became part of my life. I certainly appreciated the language. Not profanity or anything but its own language, and the visual of it, I really appreciated the visual, because the visual is such a storytelling part of it and the language was so bizarre in its own kind of language. I really appreciate the work that goes into that.
This is more like a highbrow sort of snobby film pick, but a sick demented sense of humor is kind in that movie as well. Ultimately it’s the visual storytelling and the language that I thought was so tremendous. It’s an absolute acid-trip fantasy weird thing. I never did drugs growing up because I watched Clockwork Orange enough so I didn’t have to do drugs. There’s a lot of shock value to it, but I really appreciated it for that. It was really kind of interesting for me and it all was put together in a very smart way, I believe. It’s not just sensationalism or anything like that because that kind of s— bothers me. But anyway, there’s a lot of things in that movie that I really like and appreciated.
it really well in that film.
Simple storytelling at its best, character driven, beautiful and cinematic. The ending of that movie, if you’re not feeling good and your heart’s not twisted up and then melted back together then, I mean, I dunno, you don’t have a heartbeat. It’s one of the best feelings walking away from a piece of cinema. It’s all chalked up to really great characters. A really simple story, really. And that’s why I really enjoy it. It’s a beautifully… it’s a masterpiece. It’s a masterpiece of filmmaking in its simplicity. Its characters are lovely and tormented and flawed and beautiful and heroic. And I, again, love the themes of it.
I remember going in, this was back when they had VHS, and you go to the movie rental place, and that was probably the last time I saw it, and ET was playing on the TV. I had to finish it there. ET came out and it would stay in the theater for, like nine months. Remember those days, you pay like two dollars, God I’m dating myself, but pay two bucks for an afternoon movie, and go see ET, and it would be there for, like, nine months. I saw it, probably 10, 15 times in the theater. Let alone the rentals afterwards. It’s just one of those things that encapsulates a time period in my childhood, when I had a lot of freedom on my bike and was allowed to go to the theater. It certainly is a throwback to a really good time in my life. Being a young man, coming of age. And, come on, it’s a classic Spielberg movie. It’s beautiful and the music, it’s great. Fantastic.
It’s one of those where you go back and re-watch it to see if you like it the same way you did when you were a kid. That’s one where you always do.
Yeah I’d be curious to watch that again. Obviously the effects are really going to kind of be, whatever, weird.
I love the old school effects. And it was a much darker tone than I remembered. ET is so cute and cuddley now, but when you go back and watch the movie, it just looks darker than I’d remembered it.
Yeah it’s pretty dark. The themes of it are dark.