Jeremy Renner is very much the modern action hero. In the past year he has appeared on our screens in three big franchises, scaling tall buildings in a single take, saving doctor damsels in distress and finally taking the Robin Hood out of bow and arrow.
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Hansel & Gretel interview
Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton on the action heavy retelling of the old Brothers Grimm tale.
Now, he's a new kind of action hero, the kind that beats up on girls.
Where once chivalry and decorum may have left an actor - and certainly a hero - uncomfortable with an all-female nemesis set, Renner just smiles. Sure, the villains (or should we call them bad gals?) in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters are all witches, which has throughout history been a good excuse for a fatal dunking or campfire, but this time it also means they give just as good as they get, or in Renner's opinion, better.
When he first read the script he says his response was ''It's awesome! When are we going to do that?'' In hindsight, however, he views the fight scenes differently. ''I don't know, most of the time I felt like I was getting beaten up. I don't even remember beating anybody up!''
''You beat up that witch, the red-headed witch, pretty bad,'' says co-star Gemma Arterton.
Renner's not giving in. ''I don't remember it that way.''
''You kick her right in the baby maker!'' exclaims Arterton.
''And then she dumps me in a tree! I lost that one.''
It's a moment of genuine levity in a press tour that has attracted attention for the wrong reasons as often as the right. The film opened in top spot in North America last weekend, yet has been savaged by critics, and is currently rated at 18 per cent on critical aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.com.
Renner has also come under fire from New York Magazine's Vulture website, which has been reviewing his interview performance over the course of the film's press tour, analysing his body language and answers as he does ''press for a movie he knew was going to do poorly and he probably knew was terrible''. His publicity effort is given, if anything, a worse review than the film, despite the fact that he is wilting in front of journalists who insist on asking the same three or four questions. Everyone, it seems, wants to know what drew him to the project.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is far from a great movie. A film whose title and poster were enough to capture Renner's interest, fails to adequately capitalise on its own premise. Oddly self-serious despite some inconsistent comedic moments and possessed of choppy editing and script writing, it warrants every poor review. Clearly the studios know this, having held it back for almost a year to be released as one of the popcorn movies used as filler during Oscars season for audiences seeking escapism.
For Renner, who walked the red carpet at the film's Australian premiere on Tuesday only hours after his colleagues did the same at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in Hollywood, it is perhaps a somewhat less glamorous step on the path to becoming a blockbuster star. Yet he is not the first to find his own star brighter than a film bearing his name, and he accepts the role with good grace, if not the enthusiasm of Arterton or the salesmanship of P.T. Barnum that Vulture would prefer.
Still, there is one aspect to the flawed nature of his character in this equally flawed film that he can claim as some reward. Gruff witch-hunter Hansel is cinema's first action hero diabetic.
Robert Pattinson on Twilight
The teen heart-throb, whose career has skyrocketed off the back of the Twilight franchise, admitted during the tour for the final film that he had lost enthusiasm for the role. "The last one was hard," he said, "because up until then each movie had a different director. Doing two in a row you start to run out of ideas a little bit. Yeah it is difficult to stay invested."
"He's achieved everything he wants to achieve in the first movie; he just wants to be with Bella. It's difficult to think of where to go with it."
Sir Alec Guinness on Star Wars
The Oscar-winning British thespian was brought on board by George Lucas to provide gravitas (and a name for studio execs), but Guinness famously grew to resent being known only for his work as Obi-Wan Kenobi.
"I shrivel up every time someone mentions Star Wars to me.
"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."
Guinness' frustrations ultimately led to him convincing Lucas to have Obi-Wan killed off, possibly not realising that death would not prevent his character appearing in the films! He was even more candid in a later interview with a British magazine saying: "And he [Lucas] agreed with me. What I didn't tell him was that I just couldn't go on speaking those bloody awful, banal lines. I'd had enough of the mumbo jumbo."
Michael Caine on Jaws: The Revenge
Another Brit who had franchise issues was Michael Caine, though he certainly appreciated one aspect of his role in the third and final cheesy Jaws sequel:
"I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific."
Shia LaBeouf on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
While Steven Spielberg had nothing to do with Caine's Jaws movie, having only helmed the first film, he did direct the final (to date) Indiana Jones instalment, in which Shia LaBeouf was introduced in what was expected to be a role that would take the franchise forward. LaBeouf had no qualms about deriding the film in an interview with the Los Angeles Times though, saying: "I feel like I dropped the ball on the legacy that people loved and cherished.
"I think the audience is pretty intelligent. And I think if you don't acknowledge it, then why do they trust you the next time you're promoting a movie?
"We [Harrison Ford and LaBeouf] had major discussions. He wasn't happy with it either. Look, the movie could have been updated. There was a reason it wasn't universally accepted."
LaBeouf was also conscious that Spielberg would see his words saying, "I'll probably get a call. But he needs to hear this .... When you drop the ball, you drop the ball."
Sylvester Stallone on Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot
In his own words: "I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."
David Cross on Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
David Cross, of Arrested Development fame, was blunt to the point of weaponry while notionally promoting the film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When he went on Conan, he not only told people not to see it, but described it as "the most miserable experience I've ever had in my professional life."
He then called the film “a big commercial for Carnival Cruise lines,” before discussing the week in which he was legally "forced … to spend a week on a cruise ship" dressed up as a pelican, a decision he said was made by a producer on the project.