Last week we shared an interview with Chris Hemsworth that was conducted from within Stark Tower while he was suited up as Thor. This was during our Avengers: Age of Ultron set visit last summer where we spent two days touring several massive stages and chatting with the cast.
We have to hold back on the details of what we saw for a while, but on day two, where we spoke with Robert Downey Jr. (dressed up in a fine Tony Stark suit) and Mark Ruffalo (wearing a motion capture outfit), we also had a chance to speak with Jeremy Renner who returns in the sequel as the team’s marksman, Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye.
As the only character of the core six heroes who didn’t appear anywhere during Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we asked Renner about the Avengers 2 script and size of the movie, how writer and director Joss Whedon organizes so many moving parts, and how they’re exploring Hawkeye’s personality for the first time. We also talk about his thoughts on Hydra and the fall of SHIELD during the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, who Barton is really loyal to, why he’d join The Avengers again and the idea of exploring Hawkeye more on TV.
Renner, who also now stars in the Bourne and Mission: Impossible franchises, talks about playing an even more physical character here as well but more importantly, being smart as an Avenger without powers. He shares much of his screen in Age of Ultron with new characters Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, but moviegoers will also see more of Black Widow and Hawkeye’s history revealed.
How has Hawkeye’s role evolved from the first Avengers going to this one?
Jeremy Renner : It’s a lot of the stuff that Joss and I talked about to doing the first one, but it just didn’t work out that way. It’s really exciting for me and Joss to kinda dive into the character a little bit more.
There’s some wonderful secrets and relationships deepen. Yeah, there’s a lot more of him to deal with versus like, you know, the hypnotized version of him.
Yesterday, talking with Lizzy Olsen, she started really laughing as she was talking about the relationship that you had at the beginning with Pietro and Wanda – and that you were a delightful grump.
Can you talk about bringing them into the movie and how it’s been to sort of welcome them into the Avengers fold?
Yeah, those are great characters. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are great characters. And my character and them have a lot to do together. They’re a little blurry on kind of where they stand and as far as good as bad which I appreciate, I guess. [LAUGHS]
But, yeah, it’s a — I think I’m sort of policing them to see if they’re worthy or not, I guess, of being, you know, good guys or bad guys. I question them a lot. [CHUCKLES]
One of the biggest questions that came out of Captain America 2 was – because the S.H.I.E.L.D. was falling – where was Hawkeye? Are we going to get a definitive answer to that question.
Yea! You’ll know. You’ll know in this movie, yeah. Where he’s been. [LAUGHS] Yeah. [CHUCKLES] Yeah, you’ll know. It’s, uh, it’s actually a really wonderful secret reveal. Yeah, it’s pretty awesome.
We saw a bunch of gear and diagrams and a table full of Hawkeye arrowheads and weapons. Talk about these new weapons that we saw. I saw photos of his new costume too.
Yeah, he’s got a coat, ’cause we were fighting in the woods. He’s got this pretty cool coat. I can’t move in it, but [LAUGHS] it’s cool looking at least. [CHUCKLES] And, yeah, all the tech – there’s always new tech and different things. I don’t wanna get into any of that sort of stuff either, but, yeah, there’s some new costumes, new tech; got some new characters and there are good guys; there are bad guys. There’s a lot more of us together in the movie as all Avengers, which I think there’s only once or twice that we had that [in the first movie]. So that’s been quite fun and the long days to shoot, there’s a lot of people to cover in a scene when you have like ten Avengers in a movie, in a scene, but there’s a lot more about what I think worked in the first one. They’ll have that exponentially more in this one.
What was your reaction when you first got the script, and how much has it changed from when you first got it to what you’re actually filming?
The bones of it were always there and the script that we got was really solid and great, and then, as we go along, there’s more things we find and – as in any movie – there’s a- just a lot! There’s so much to cover. I don’t know how Joss does it. All I have to focus on is like small, little parts. Like I ask – what the heck’s being built over me?
I have no idea [LAUGHS] what’s going on. I mean this world and, and all the things going on in this movie is, is just so vast and so many things going on. And I think for the most part the script is what it was when we started, and you know, you make minor adjustments to here and there for clarity and, like I said, it’s a big, big, big movie.
By his nature, Hawkeye’s a very physical role. He was very involved in that final battle sequence of the first movie without having the powers or tech of some of the others.
That’s the fun part.
How’s that changed in this movie? Is it more physical? Does it feel like you have still have to kind of stay up with the other Avengers?
Yeah, I suppose it’s – I’ve done a lot of that stuff already. We still have a couple more sequences to go where it’s, you know, it’s, it’s fun. You have to be a smart fighter when you don’t have the super powers and that’s what makes him [CHUCKLES] sort of super, in a way, I guess. He has to use his mind as much as it his physical ability, and his ability to never miss. Just don’t miss [LAUGHS], but, yeah, stay at a distance and don’t miss.
Hawkeye seems very cynical and skeptical. How does he react to something like the Vision?
Yeah, that’s — that, again, that’s just like Pietro, who’s Quicksilver, and Wanda, who’s Scarlet Watch. I mean he’s always very skeptical of new people, ’cause it’s sort of — it’s military kind of thinking in the sense of like, I have to trust that you have my six or you have my back while I’m trying to manifest something up here.
You have to work as a unit, as a team, otherwise we all fail or I die or somebody else dies. So that’s where the skepticism comes in. It’s not to just to be grumpy or not to like somebody. It’s all there for a reason, and that plays a lot in this movie.
Does he still have a strong connection to Black Window for that reason?
Yeah, yeah, of course! They have a long, long history together and there’s more of that revealed in this as well.
He is particularly skeptical with Scarlet Witch though, because I mean, he has to be kind of burnt after having his mind controlled thanks to Loki
Yeah, there’s a little bit of that, yeah. I mean ’cause that happens to, uh, to, people in the movie, I guess. You know, it’s [CHUCKLES], uh — I’m not giving away too much, but yeah. I mean it’s, uh [LAUGHS] — uhh, he doesn’t — y– yeah. Yes, there’s animosity, I suppose, with any newcomer, good or bad.
The last few years has been especially kind to Hawkeye in the Comic Books. I think Matt Fraction has brought a whole new take to the character that is amazing. Is there any sense for you, as you’re finished with this, that they’re gonna explore Hawkeye away from the Avengers?
[SIGHS] I don’t know. I mean no. Well, I mean there’s always opportunity in the Marvel universe to jump into a lot of different scenarios, but it only makes sense, I think, that – just as an outsider – that, you know, Captain America, those sort of things, he fits into that world pretty world because they’re similar in their sort of military kind of ideals. Like, Hawkeye’s not in Thor. It’s to really hard to really imagine that but they leave it pretty wide open for a lot of different venues, a lot of different scenarios to have. I do not know the future. I’m just happy to be doing it now.
Do you have a personal favorite Avenger?
I don’t know, I think they all have their own cool things about it. But as an actor, there’s no other part I’d rather play then the one I’m doing. It’s a real human being, and I know how to [CHUCKLES] do real human stuff. [LAUGHS] I don’t know the other guys do that [CHUCKLES] superhuman thing. [LAUGHS]
How is Hawkeye dealing with the fallen S.H.I.E.L.D., ’cause, obviously, this is an organization he was a huge part of and it was rotten to core…
Yeah, you know, for me, my take on it is, it’s probably a good thing. He’s kind of a loner anyway. And he’s a team player, only ’cause he sort of has to be. He’s not really a company man. You know what I mean? Cap I guess can be that guy. Hawkeye’s on his own court. Again, a lot’ll be revealed with a few simple scenes. You’ll understand why he is and thinks the way he thinks. But, yeah, S.H.I.E.L.D., I don’t think, was ever really that important to him. Fury’s awesome. He likes Fury and will do anything for him, but a company man is just not him. He doesn’t punch in and punch out.
Without knowing the exact future of Hawkeye and Marvel having a pretty successful season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and all these Netflix series on the way, do you have any interest in seeing Hawkeye involved in the universe outside of the movies?
I think there was talk of having some of the guys go up and jump onto the TV show. I remember them mentioning something about that. Um, again, there has to be a good rhyme or reason for it, and, you know, I like the character enough and anything to do to explore him more, I’m always open to it, ’cause he’s obviously not had a franchise of his own to really deeply explore really who Hawkeye is.
And, yeah, I’ve always liked to explore the guy more. He’s interesting character to me.
Does it conflict with the movies, with what Joss is doing with the movies, to have him in appear in things where they really have to keep it very tight?
Even when you blur the lines like that, you still don’t wanna cement yourself into a direction to where, you know, you kill somebody off, it’s hard to kinda bring him back. I mean they kinda did that with S.H.I.E.L.D. with Coulson and the Avengers death, right? They try not to box themselves too much into those things, ’cause it leaves these options for them. And [Kevin] Feige is the puppet master behind all this. So I think they’re really smart about that stuff.
Talk about the vibe on set compared to the first film. Downey and a few of the others have talked about it so much, saying that everyone’s having a lot of fun. And it just feels like a more of a like a family unit. Was that how it’s been for you?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean I saw Downey like twice, I think, in the last Avengers, and this one, we’re all together a lot more. So that makes it really, really great, and, um, tedious when we shoot it, because it’s [CHUCKLES] — there’s so many people to cover. And there’s so many storylines to tell, but it makes the off-camera stuff just so much more fun.
I personally like to go to work and just work and like knock out some action sequences and get it done and we do do that, but then, when we’re all together, it’s really great fun. It’s a really wonderful family unit. It’s the best part of doing a big, crazy, action movie like this, which usually can be quite unfulfilling as an artist, but because all the people involved in this are so great, it just — it makes coming to work every day really, really joyous.
In terms of the action, Chris Evans spoke about consciously really wanting to evolve Cap’s fighting style. Are you looking for the same with Hawkeye?
Yeah, I think that we’re always trying to find that. Again, there’s new tech and new costumes and new things. And there’s always new abilities, and new sort of things. For instance, if Hawkeye is a distance guy, what happens when he’s up at close quarters? And we did a little of that in the first Avengers with having to use arrows just in hand and having to do different things like that, you know, be nimble and flying between people’s legs.
You have to be clever with things. Clever fighting is to me is what I like to explore a little bit more of as well. And then using each other, like if it Cap and I, and let’s say, Widow, are in a scene, how can we use each other’s abilities as teamwork? He can toss me somewhere up higher. It’s where these new characters are great too, with Scarlet Witch you’ll find that her abilities are just being tapped into in this movie and what they can become, she’s still learning what they are, which is really cool, man.
That to me, as a nerdy, geeky dude about this world, that’s what I’m excited to kind of see what happens in the future because that can be quite fun. Again, it happens a little bit in this but I really want to explore more of that.
We saw in the, in the prop room, you talked a little bit about, a whole bunch of arrowheads that seemed to be almost Stark’d out. Can you talk about some of those things and planning out scenes with these new tools? Do they tell you in advance or do you show up on set and they just show them to you and explain on the spot?
Um, both. It’s both. It’s kind of like the bat belt for Hawkeye. HE really has a lot of utility, and for writers to make this scene creative in any scenario, ‘Oh wait, he has an arrowhead that does this and does that’ but it’s still just the tip of an arrow. It can only do so much. But, yeah, some things, we got a couple new tech things that were, were pretty cool. I’m like, ‘oh, I didn’t know I had that.’ I’m like ‘all right.’ [LAUGHS] ‘That’s cool. That’s a cool one. Yeah.’
Do you wanna tease us with one of the specifics?
No. [LAUGHS] There’s a couple cool new ones though.
With Hawkeye being such a lone wolf character, before this movie The Avengers have already reunited and Evans describes them as a military unit. Was it easy for Hawkeye to sign up to that? I’m curious what the motivation is for Hawkeye to join a team rather than doing his own thing, you know.
Yeah, you have to see the movie for that one, brother. [LAUGHS] Yeah, for sure. Cap is the captain. He calls or Fury calls, that’s who he listens to.
Joss’ touch was obviously all over the first Avengers, but this movie’s different, because it was his from day one. It’s strictly coming from him and Robert [Downey Jr.] talked a little about finally knowing Joss after this movie. How has that been different in working with him and has the mood been different on set?
Well, I’m seeing him a lot more, which is nice. I’ve known him since ’98 since I did Angel with him. Yeah man, it’s great to dive into the character – and he’s just as excited as I am about, just for me personally, for us finding, you know, who Hawkeye is. I remember the beginning of the movie, we were shooting the end of the movie, as movies go, right? And there was this moment where it’s more of a chatty bit for Hawkeye, and we realize, ‘wait, well, and we’re running out of time or doing all this stuff, all this action stuff.’ And he’s like let’s finish all the action. Maybe we can do the little talky bit back on stage or something, and he was a little afraid. He’s like ‘this is the first time I really kinda see him in his personality or what his sense of humor might be or who he really is.’ And, I’m like ‘yea, I know, let’s think about it for a minute. Let’s play around with it,’ and not have like 30 minutes to shoot and, you know, cement ourselves into something.
It’s been a lot of fun. I always feel good, ’cause I know him so well. I know when he likes a take and he likes something, and it’s always been like one and a half takes and, like, its’s ‘okay we’re done. I got it. Neat.’ When I get him smiling or laughing and he feels good and that’s a good feeling. I like making him happy, ’cause I trust him. Even I don’t know what I’m doing on half the time, I’m like [LAUGHS], like ‘really? Well, okay. Right, I’ll do it.’ [CHUCKLES] And I mean I’ll fight back on a few things [CHUCKLES], but, yeah,’ I know how to shoot a bow and arrow.’ Um, [CHUCKLES] ‘you tell me, like, what to do.’ [LAUGHS] But, yeah, he’s great, man. We’ve had a lot of fun and he’s, you know, he’s the, he’s the mastermind behind all this stuff in these Avenger movies. They’re impossible to write. Impossible. [CHUCKLES] But he does it and pulls it off.
- Joss Whedon Interview – From The Set of Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Robert Dowey Jr. Interview – From The Set of Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Mark Ruffalo Interview – From The Set of Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Chris Hemsworth Interview – From The Set of Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Chris Evans Interview – From The Set of Avengers: Age of Ultron
Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” stars Robert Downey Jr., who returns as Iron Man, along with Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk. Together with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and with the additional support of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine, Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill and Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig, the team must reassemble to defeat James Spader as Ultron, a terrifying technological villain hell-bent on human extinction. Along the way, they confront two mysterious and powerful newcomers, Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen, and Pietro Maximoff, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and meet an old friend in a new form when Paul Bettany becomes Vision.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Spider-Man on July 28, 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 on May 4 2018, Black Panther on July 6 2018, Captain Marvel on November 2 2018, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 on May 3 2019 and Inhumans on July 12, 2019.