Jeremy Renner can kick your ass. Or as he says in a wide-ranging interview with Playboy, he can “choke [you] out.” But Renner can also outsmart you, with a self-proclaimed I.Q. of 175 and a background in fixing up and flipping million-dollar homes. Here are some of the highlights from the chat with the Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation star, spanning everything from his fearlessness, his sexuality, and how he lost his virginity.
On whether he’s as fearless as Hawkeye and his other characters:
“Every day from when I was 22 to 32, I deliberately and consciously did things to fight fear. Things I was afraid of, like guns, sharks, heights, success, intimacy? I’ve checked those off the list. Even in the beginning of my career, my confidence always came from being fearless. I always went in to auditions with the attitude ’I dare you not to cast me.’ I went in and did what I thought was honest, truthful and just different. Maybe it was wrong. I didn’t care. Maybe they thought it was the worst. I didn’t care. I just went in, and still go in, with absolute fearlessness. It’s my strength as an actor.”
His response to rumors that he’s gay:
“As a general rule I don’t respond to questions about my personal life. I’m not going to try to prove what I am or am not. It’s silly, right? 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. F–king say whatever the hell you want about me. 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?”
On life now that he’s a dad (to daughter Ava, 2):
“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. 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. All my energy goes toward her and her well-being. We split the time with Ava equally now. When it’s Daddy and Ava time, that’s all I do.”
On losing his virginity:
“My story is awful, just like everybody else’s. It was just this random, uncomfortable thing, and I was so nervous. … I was a senior and my girlfriend was a freshman in the same high school. … We were having a little teenage party at my dad’s house—some of my bandmates, my girlfriend’s twin sister, some of their friends. It started at five in the afternoon. We had music going, had a couple of beers, and then, cut to midnight. Knowing the opportunity was finally going to present itself, I had put on the condom well before we were actually going to do it. … Like four to six hours [before]. I was so nervous, I didn’t want to put it on inside out or upside down or anything.”
On the hardest part about filming Rogue Nation: “The ultimate challenge and difficulty on that movie and Avengers: Age of Ultron was that they both shot in London, which took me 11 hours away from Ava. That was what caused any cantankerousness, agitation or negative feelings I had about the whole moviemaking experience. All I worried about once I landed in London was, When do I get to see my little munchkin next? If I knew it was in two weeks, fine. If they said, “We don’t know how long you’re shooting,” well, Mr. Renner’s not going to be a happy man in that makeup trailer in the morning. If I did not have my daughter, I would have enjoyed being in London, and I would not have come back to the States hardly at all. But 40 flights from Los Angeles to London and back nearly killed me.”
On his joke about Jennifer Lopez’s “globes” at the Golden Globes: “It’s my sense of humor. I don’t take things too seriously. I didn’t watch any of the Globes. I went to have a drink at the bar, and I kept hearing people all night saying, ‘Dude, that was the funniest thing,’ ‘Bro, that was the best part of the show.’ I was like, What are you talking about? I was clueless…Everybody’s entitled to an opinion, but I can’t be bothered. We gave zero f–ks. I would have made a public apology if it really hurt her feelings. It was the complete opposite, and she’s gone on record as saying she thinks Renner’s hysterical.”
Head over to Playboy to read Renner’s full interview.