"So Tom's been running around the building the whole time, and I thought 'I can do this.'"
Throwing yourself out of the world's tallest building after the world's most famous actor is all in a day's work for Jeremy Renner, Tom Cruise's co-star in the latest instalment of Mission Impossible, but even Renner admits he was initially terrified.
"There's only this little belt, one wire and a bloke who doesn't look like he's paying attention holding me up, so I was a bit concerned. A couple of seconds later, I was doing it. And it became a beautiful scene, once the terror passed."
Renner has been a go-to name for such chunky, ironic action roles since his Oscar-nominated turn in The Hurt Locker - but he reveals he still has his share of 'slap me' moments:
"It's a strange feeling when Tom Cruise calls your house. I'd met him several times over the years, and we'd sat down to discuss the movie.
"So I went home, the phone rang 15 minutes later, and it was Tom Cruise, asking if I wanted to do it. I couldn't say no, and it all worked out, and I've learned a lot from the guy this past year.
"Tom was very generous with time and compliments. He was very hands-on, and makes you feel part of it, so it was the opposite of intimidating, it was inspiring. He sets a high bar of wanting to make the film as great as it can be, with the best stunts. So we all just wanted to make the film great as well."
The efforts of Renner and his co-stars, including British favourite Simon Pegg, have been rewarded, with Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol garnering the best reviews so far of the lucrative series, with particular praise reserved for the gravity-defying stunts.
Renner's character he describes as "a reluctant hero, a bit neurotic" - is the chief analyst for the IMF, thrown into the throes of a major world crisis and forced to team up with Ethan Hunt and his cohorts:
"I don't think initially my character was meant to have a sense of humour, but I think because director Brad Bird's own sense of humour came to bear - his take on the movie was not taking it that seriously, for example, we had all these fun gadgets, which he was quite happy when they broke, for dramatic tension as well as some comic relief. It wasn't a conscious choice to be a funny character, but I feel like it's well-rounded enough for a big popcorn movie."
Renner, who will also be on our screens later next year in the superhero-laden Avengers film, as well as the first Bourne enterprise without Matt Damon, is well positioned to reflect on what the Cruise-Bird combo bring to the screen in this episode of Mission that sets it apart:
"Brad, because of his experience in animation, has a really great attention to detail and shot composition. He spends a lot of time putting all those little characters into the right position, and out of that comes something funny or absurd. It's his sensibility of humanity that is the most specific thing that he brings to the Mission franchise.
"And Tom is very hands on as a producer and, from my perspective, was always trying to protect Brad's vision. There are a lot of cooks in a big, big movie like this, everybody with an opinion, is what I'm discovering. So, to make sure the film doesn't get out of hand, you need powerful producers like Tom who can protect that vision, make sure it comes from Brad Bird's eyes only."
"I stay out of that. I only scream and scratch when something's only 'really good' or 'good', I want to be great, or let's go home. When Bird said something was 'pretty much perfect' on a stunt, I would say 'let's do it again'. That's the only time I'll chime up."
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is on general release today. Watch the trailer below:
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