I think we can all agree Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) got the short end of the stick in the first Avengers movie. After all, he spent a ton of time in a hypnotic state working for Loki, and when he finally got back with the good guys, it was the end of the film. But in Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, I think fans are going to be very happy. Not only is Hawkeye a big part of the film, we’re going to learn a lot more of his backstory with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), where he was when S.H.I.E.L.D. fell, and we’ll get to see him interact with the Avengers a lot more. I can’t wait for May 1st.
When Avengers: Age of Ultron was filming outside of London last year, I got to visit the set with a few other reporters. During a break in filming, we sat down with Jeremy Renner for an interview. Not only did he talk about what I already mentioned, he also discussed his new costume and weapons, working with Whedon, how Hawkeye interacts with Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), the way he has to use his mind as much as his physical ability in the sequel, and so much more.
Finally, click here you’d like to listen to the audio of this interview. Otherwise the full transcript is below.
Question: So how has Hawkeye’s role evolved from Avengers to the sequel?
JEREMY RENNER: It’s a lot of the stuff that Joss [Whedon] and I talked about to do in the first one but it just didn’t work out that way, so it’s really exciting for me and Joss to kind of dive into the character a little bit more. There’s some wonderful secrets and relationships deepen, so there’s a lot more of him to deal with versus the hypnotized version of him.
Yesterday talking to Lizzie [Elizabeth] Olsen, she started really laughing as she was talking about the relationship that you have with Pietro and Wanda and that you are a delightful grump. Can you talk about them and bringing them into the movie and how it’s been to sort of welcome them into the Avengers fold as cast?
RENNER: 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 and bad–which I appreciate I guess [laughs]. But yeah, I think I’m sort of policing them to see if they are worthy or not of being good guys or bad guys; I question them a lot.
One of the biggest questions that came out of Captain America 2 was because S.H.I.E.L.D. was falling, where was Hawkeye? Are we going to get a definitive answer to that question?
RENNER: You’ll know, you’ll know in this movie. It’s actually a really wonderful secret reveal, it’s pretty awesome.
We saw a bunch of gear, diagrams, and a table full of Hawkeye arrowheads and weapons. Can you talk about his new weapon set? We saw also photos of his new costume.
RENNER: Yeah he’s got a coat because we were fighting in the woods, so I guess he’s got this pretty cool coat. I can’t move in it but it’s cool-looking. There’s always new tech and different things, I don’t want to get into any of that sort of stuff either but yeah, there’s some new costumes, new tech, new characters, new good guys, new bad guys. A lot more of us together in the movie as Avengers, which I think there’s only once or twice that we had that. So that’s been quite fun and long days to shoot because there’s a lot of people to cover in a scene when you have like ten Avengers in a scene. But there’s a lot more of 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 changed from when you first got it to what you’re actually filming?
RENNER: 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. As in any movie, there’s a lot, there’s so much to cover I don’t know how Joss does it, all I have to focus on is a small little part. I ask, “What the heck is being built over me?” I have no idea what’s going on [laughs]. All the things going on in this movie are so vast and there’s so many thing going on. But I think for the most part the script is what it was when we started and you make minor adjustments here and there for clarity, but it’s a big, big, big movie.
By its nature Hawkeye is a very physical role, he was very involved in that final battle sequence without having the powers like Cap and the others. How has that changed with this movie, is it more physical, does it feel like you still have to stay up with the others?
RENNER: Yeah, I’ve done a lot of that stuff already, I still have a couple more sequences to go where it’s fun. You have to be a smart fighter when you don’t have superpowers, that’s what makes him sort of super in a way, I guess. He has to use his mind as much as his physical ability, and his ability to never miss. You just don’t miss [laughs], stay at a distance and don’t miss.
Hawkeye seems very cynical and skeptical, how does he react to something like The Vision?
RENNER: Yeah, that’s just like with Pietro who’s Quicksilver and Wanda who’s The Scarlet Witch. He’s always very skeptical of new people, it’s sort of military kind of thinking in the sense that 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. That’s where the skepticism comes in. It’s not just to be grumpy or not to like somebody, but it’s all there for a reason, and that plays a lot in this movie.
Does he still have a strong connection to Black Widow for that reason?
Is he particularly skeptical with Scarlet Witch? Because he has to be kind of burnt after having his mind controlled.
RENNER: Yeah there’s a little bit of that, that happens to people in the movie, I guess. I’m not giving away too much, but yeah [laughs]. There’s animosity I suppose with any newcomer, good or bad.
The last few years have been especially kind to Hawkeye in comic form, I think Matt Fraction has created a whole new take on the character that’s amazing. Is there any sense for you as The Avengers, as you’re finished with this that they’re going to explore Hawkeye away from The Avengers?
RENNER: I don’t know, I mean there’s always opportunities in the Marvel universe to jump into a lot of different scenarios but it always makes sense –I think, just as an outsider– that Captain America, those sort of things, he fits into that world pretty well because they’re similar in their sort of military kind of ideals. Like, Hawkeye is not in Thor, it’s hard to really imagine that, but they leave it really wide open for a lot of different venues and a lot of different scenarios to happen. I do not know the future, I’m just happy to be doing it now.
Do you have a personal favorite Avenger, is it Cap?
RENNER: I don’t know, I think they all have their own cool things about them. But as an actor, there’s no other part I’d rather play than the one I’m doing. It’s a real human being and I know how to do real human stuff, I don’t know how the other guys do that superhuman thing [laughs].
Just kind of a follow-up from my earlier question, how is Hawkeye dealing with the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Because obviously this is an organization he was a huge part of, not only that but he was right in the core.
RENNER: For me, my take is it’s probably a good thing. He’s kind of a loner anyway and he’s a team player only because he has to be; he’s not really a company man. Cap can be that guy, Hawkeye is on his own, and again, a lot will be revealed with a few simple scenes and you’ll understand why he is and thinks the way he thinks. But S.H.I.E.L.D. I don’t think was ever really that important to him. Fury is awesome, he likes Fury and will do anything for him but the company man is just not him, he doesn’t punch in and punch out.
Without knowing the future of Hawkeye, where Marvel are going with him, they obviously had a pretty successful season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. where Hawkeye could have appeared, they’re doing all these Netflix series where they theoretically could have Hawkeye show up. What is your personal interest as far as being more involved in the Marvel universe as Hawkeye outside the movies?
RENNER: I think there was talk of having some of the guys go jump onto the TV show, I remember them mentioning something about that. Again, there has to be a good rational reason for it. I like the character enough and anything to do to explore him more I’m always open to it, because he has obviously not had a franchise of his own to really deeply explore who Hawkeye is. I’ve always liked to explore the guy more, he’s an interesting character to me.
Is it a conflict with the movies –what Joss is doing with the movies–to have him appear in things that they really have to keep you very tightly?
RENNER: Even when you blur the lines like that, you still don’t want to cement yourself into a direction where you kill somebody off. It’s hard to kind of bring them back. They kind of did that with S.H.I.E.L.D. with Coulson, who in Avengers died. They try not to box themselves too much into those things because it leaves options for them. Kevin Feige is the puppet master behind all this so I think they’re always smart about that stuff.
Talk about the vibe on set compared to the first film, Downey and a few of the others talked about how everyone is having a lot of fun and that it feels more like a family unit. Is that how it’s been for you?
RENNER: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I saw Downey like twice in the last Avengers and in this one we’re all together a lot more so that makes it really great, and also tedious when we shoot it because 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 knock out some action sequences and get it done, and we do that, but then when we’re all together it’s really great fun. It really is a 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 makes coming to work every day really joyous.
In terms of the action, Chris Evans was talking about consciously really wanting to evolve Cap’s fighting style and we’ve seen that happen.
RENNER: Yeah, I think that we’re still always trying to find that. Again, there’s new tech and new costumes, there’s always new abilities, and new sort of things. For instance, if Hawkeye is a distance guy, what happens when it’s close quarters? We did a little of that in the first Avengers with having to use arrows in hands and having to do different things like that, be nimble and flying between people’s legs. You have to be clever with things, clever fighting to me is what I like to explore a little bit more with that as well. And then using each other, like if it was Cap, Widow, and I in a scene how we can use each other’s abilities as teamwork? He can toss me somewhere higher. That’s where these new characters are great, 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. 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 prop room and you’ve talked a little bit about it, a whole bunch of arrow heads that have almost been like Starked out. Can you sort of talk about some of those things, did they tell you in advance before filming that you were going to have some arrows that do this or is it sort of you arrive on set and they show them to you?
RENNER: Both, it’s both. It’s also kind of like the Bat-Belt for Hawkeye, he really has a lot of utility and for writers to make this thing creative in any scenario, “Oh, he has an arrow head that does this and does that.” But it’s still just the tip of an arrow, it can only do so much. But yeah, I got a couple of new tech things that were pretty cool and went, “Oh, I didn’t know I had that, alright. That’s cool, that’s a cool one” [laughs].
Would you want to tease us with one of the specifics?
With Hawkeye being such a lone wolf character, before this movie they have already reunited in a way, I think Evans said that they are a military unit, The Avengers. Was it easy for Hawkeye to sign up when he was recruited to that, was he like, “I’m on board”? I’m curious what the motivation was for Hawkeye to join the team rather than doing his own thing.
RENNER: Yeah, you have to see the movie for that one brother. Sure, Cap is the Cap and he calls or Fury calls, that’s who he listens to.
Joss’ touch is obviously all over the first Avengers, but this movie is different because it was his from day one, this is strictly coming from him. Is there a sense of –and Robert [Downey Jr.] talked a little about it– knowing Joss after this movie, how has that been different and working with him, has the mood on set been different just in terms of your relationship with Joss?
RENNER: Well, I’m seeing him a lot more which is nice. I’ve known him since ‘98 since I did Angel with him. It’s great to dive into the character and he’s just as excited as I am about, just for me personally, for finding out who Hawkeye is. I remember in the beginning of the movie we were shooting the end of the movie, as movies go, and there was this moment where it’s more of a chatty bit for Hawkeye and we realized, “Well we’re running out of time and we’re doing all this action stuff, let’s just finish all the action and maybe we can do the talky bit back on stage or something.” Because he was just a little afraid, he was like, “This is the first time we really kind of see him in his personality or what his sense of humor might be, or who he really is.” And I’m like, “Yeah 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 cement ourselves into something.”
So, it’s been a lot of fun I always feel good because 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, “OK we’re done we got it.” When I get him smiling or laughing and he feels good, that’s a good feeling. I like making him happy because I trust him. Even though I don’t know what I’m doing half the time, I’m like, “Really? OK, alright I’ll do it.” And I’ll fight back on a few things, “I don’t know how to shoot a bow and arrow, you tell me what to do.” But he’s great we’ve had a lot of fun, and he’s the mastermind behind all this stuff, and these Avengers movies they’re impossible to write, impossible, but he does it and pulls it off.
Click here for all our previous Avengers Age of Ultron coverage which includes interviews, images, trailers, posters, and more.