Jeremy Renner's got chops, folks, as his turns in Dahmer and, famously, The Hurt Locker prove. Considering that it was only a few years back when he was slugging it out in guest spots on Angel and CSI, who could blame him for getting ambitious while the going's good with a slate of big-ticket projects like The Avengers and new installments of the Bourne and Mission Impossible franchises? But now Steve McQueen — a mountain no other has dared climb.
The always credible Hollywood Reporter has it that Renner has formed his own production company, with an eye toward turning the twin McQueen biographies Portrait of an American Rebel and The Life and Legend of a Hollywood Icon by Marshall Terrill into a biopic with producers from The Hurt Locker and Black Swan. Critically acclaimed biographies and Oscar-winning help are all well and good, but the real question is, can Renner re-create, bottle, and sell the essence of a troubled actor whose cool is still unequaled 30 years after his death?
Well, first off, Renner looks as close to McQueen as any actor, save Daniel Craig. While the very cool and fittingly intense Bond star is a dead ringer for McQueen, it's just not fair that British actors play our American heroes (Day-Lewis as Lincoln? Henry Cavill as Superman?). Seeing as he can also drive a motorcycle, we'll give this point to Renner.
Also, Renner always maintains a level of volatility and instability in even his most focused roles. The guarded secret of McQueen's cool wasn't sangfroid detachment. Instead, he sat on a mountain of energy and anger that he consciously held back. Even when loose and relaxed — say, while bouncing a ball off the walls of his prison cell in The Great Escape — he was a live wire. Renner's Hurt Locker performance came from that same place. Two points.
Then there's the outstanding issue of Renner's romantic potential. McQueen's onscreen chemistry with Jacqueline Bisset, Faye Dunaway, Natalie Wood, and future wife Ali MacGraw was unquestionable. Though Renner hasn't had a chance to demonstrate that kind of fire with any actress, the ladies (and some of the guys) do like him, so we're willing to bet that he can smolder.
Finally, Renner has a sharp, hard approach to dialogue. Though McQueen's delivery came with a smirk, we can actually see how Renner might have learned some of his style from watching him in The Magnificent Seven or The Thomas Crown Affair. Yeah, on top of walking like McQueen, Renner could talk like McQueen.
So with a bit of help from the costume department, we're sure Jeremy Renner could play the of the King of Cool as a Marine, in Hollywood, on the race track, and finally, tragically, in a Juárez clinic. But should anyone, no matter how capable, try to capture the man who laid down the blueprint for anti-hero swagger in a 90-minute flick? If Renner gets the film made, we'll sure buy tickets to find out.
Are you eager to see Renner as McQueen? Let us know in the comments below.