Speaking with fellow actor Justin Long recently on his podcast Life Is Short, Renner revealed that he was approached to play the title character in Guillermo del Toro’s 2004 film Hellboy, and despite there being “a lot of money” on the table, he turned it down.
“I was just reading the script and [thinking] like, ‘I don’t get this…’ I just couldn’t connect to it,” he said. “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.” Ron Perlman went on to play Hellboy in the film and its sequel, and Stranger Things star David Harbour later took on the role in the 2019 reboot.
Ultimately, Renner said, he has no regrets for declining the part.
“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,” he said.
With Hawkeye, however, it was a different story. “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,” he said, adding, “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.’”
Renner went on to play the part of Hawkeye (a.k.a. Clint Barton) in The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, and Avengers: Endgame.
In April, it was announced that the character would be the subject of a new series on Disney+.