Jeremy Renner spent years working in Hollywood in movies and other projects of various sizes, but he didn’t really hit the big time until he fronted Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘The Hurt Locker’, which won six Academy Awards and earned Renner a nomination for Best Actor. Of course, he was catapulted into greater fame as Hawkeye, the archer extraordinaire in Marvel’s ‘Avengers’ movies.
But as he has just revealed, he almost became a superhero much earlier. Appearing on Justin Long’s Life is Short podcast, Renner admitted that he had been offered the lead in Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Hellboy’— the good one, the one that came out in 2004.
“I was just reading the script and [thinking] like, ‘I don’t get this…’ I just couldn’t connect to it. I said, ‘I can’t find a way in [to this character], I don’t know what I’d be doing,’ so I had to say no. There’s zero regrets, zero. Most of the time it’s like, ‘Oh, I’m glad I didn’t do it,’ and it made sense to me. Not just Hellboy or whatever it was, and I’m not saying that it’s a good or bad movie, it’s not about that… I just wouldn’t have fit there.”
The role wound up going to beefy character actor Ron Perlman, who had experience with prosthetics and makeup having starred on the TV series ‘Beauty and the Beast’ from 1987-90. Ultimately, that version of ‘Hellboy’ was successful enough to earn a sequel, 2008’s ‘Hellboy: The Golden Army’.
Neither of those ‘Hellboy’ movies was a massive hit, but they connected with their intended audience and remain cult classics to this day. In April, a reboot was released, with David Harbour in the lead, but it tanked, failing to make what the first movie generated in 2004, without even taking into account inflation.
It was a different story when he was offered the chance to play Hawkeye.
“When they showed me my character… it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s great, it’s just a guy with no superpower — he’s just got a high skill set.’ I can actually attach to that. I’d have passed on [the role of] Thor all day long — not that I’d ever be cast in that — but like, that kind of thing I’d be like, ‘I don’t know how to do that, I’m sorry.’”
It seems everything worked out for the best. Despite Ron Perlman’s lengthy and varied career, Hellboy may always be his defining role.
Things didn’t work out quite as well for Renner. Oh sure, he’s part of the biggest film franchise in the world, but… he’s kind of the smallest part. His character was essentially sidelined for most of the first ‘Avengers’, and later attempts to flesh him out haven’t quite panned out. Now it seems that Renner is ready to walk away from the role, but before he goes, he will star in a series on Disney+, which will reportedly show Clint Barton passing the mantle of Hawkeye onto a successor, Kate Bishop.
(And in case you missed it, Renner has a new dance single out, ‘Heaven Don’t Have A Name’.)
Would you have liked to have at least seen what Renner could have done with ‘Hellboy’?