How Jeremy Renner Proved to Be Even Tougher Than Hawkeye

Hawkeye gets a lot of crap for being less "super" than some of the other Marvel heroes.

But really he's resilient AF, just like the actor who plays him.

Jeremy Renner is thankfully on the mend after being seriously injured in a snowplowing accident on New Year's Day, now sharing updates from his hospital bed and, incidentally, celebrating being alive as he turns 52 on Jan. 7.

The news from his rep that Renner had undergone surgery Jan. 2 after suffering "blunt chest trauma and orthopedic injuries" sounded awfully scary, as love and well-wishes from the MCU and beyond poured in online.

Happily, the two-time Oscar nominee put an end to the most dire speculation the following afternoon. "Thank you all for your kind words," he captioned a Jan. 3 hospital selfie. "Im [sic] too messed up now to type. But I send love to you all."


"Speedy recovery buddy," fellow Avenger Chris Hemsworth commented. "Sending love your way!" Added their co-star Chris Evans, "Tough as nails. Love you buddy." Even Thanos himself, Josh Brolin, wrote, "Close but no cigar. You're blessed. Quick recovery, brother."

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According to Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam, Renner was run over by his PistenBully snow plow while helping a family member who got stranded while driving the actor's car near his home in the mountains between Lake Tahoe, Calif., and Reno, Nev.

Calling it a "tragic accident" and noting that investigators did not suspect foul play, Balaam told reporters Jan. 3 that Renner got aboard his "PistenBully or Sno-Cat—an extremely large piece of snow removal equipment weighing at least 14,330 pounds—in an effort to get his vehicle moving."

After successfully towing the stuck vehicle, he got out of the plow to speak to his relative, the sheriff continued, and then "it was observed that the PistenBully started to roll."

Jeremy Renner, Hospital, Instagram
Instagram / Jeremy Renner

The actor was attempting to get back into the driver's seat when he was "run over" by the plow, Balaam said. "An eyewitness detailed seeing Mr. Renner getting into the PistenBully and not seeing him again until the PistenBully came to a rest in a pile of snow in front of his driveway."

The "three feet of fresh snow" on the ground and numerous abandoned cars on the road at the time made it difficult for first responders to get there, Balaam said, but when they did, Renner was treated at the scene and ultimately airlifted to a local hospital.

No wonder he was in need of a "spa day," which he joked about in a Jan. 5 video showing his family assembled in his hospital room and mom Valerie massaging his head.

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As always, it's nice to see Renner's spirits up, as he so frequently seems to be playing a character who looks like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Which he was doing even before he joined a bunch of world-savers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Jeremy Renner

A 2010 GQ piece noting the rise of Renner after his Oscar-nominated turn as an addicted-to-combat bomb dismantler at the height of the Iraq war in The Hurt Locker noted that he was "previously best known for nothing in particular."

And even after The Hurt Locker put him on the radar more than a decade into his acting career, he still didn't exactly rocket to super-stardom.

Rather, it was more of a Where'd he come from? moment, followed by, Expect to see more of this guy.

And sure enough, by 2010 Renner had made The Town, for which he'd earn another Oscar nomination playing Ben Affleck's ruthless buddy in bank-robbing—"He's still really enigmatic and mysterious," Affleck said of his less-talked-about co-star—and was already signed up to join The Avengers.

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After which, he was inevitably going to be best known for that, as even the most classically trained thespians with decades of experience have ended up once they've joined one of the most successful movie franchises of all time.

And the MCU is the most successful franchise.

Jeremy Renner, Hailee Steinfeld, Hawkeye
Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021

Playing Hawkeye, the arrow-slinging superhero alter ego of family man Clint Barton (the aspect of the role the single dad to 9-year-old daughter Ava Berlin has always said he feels most connected to, though he appreciates that action movies help keep him in shape) has taken up a lot of the past 10 years for Renner, who worked as a makeup artist to pay the bills before he made a living as an actor.

And the Twitterverse can make all the cracks it wants about Hawkeye's seemingly dispensable skills (So... he's an archer?), but being the most recognizably human member of the MCU is hardly a bad thing.

"There's just a wonderful grounding rod," Renner told GQ last year when his Disney+ spin-off series Hawkeye premiered. "Here's a guy with no superpowers. He's got a stick and a string. He's got a family, right? That said a lot to me about where they set an intention of where that character is going."

Jeremy Renner, Hawkeye, Avengers, Hottest Superheroes
Marvel/Disney Enterprises

Plus, he can still take being the most dissed Avenger straight to the bank—along with the house-flipping proceeds from the business he and a buddy started once they had "a little bit of money," Renner recalled on The Howard Stern Show in 2017.

"We didn't mean to sell it," he said of the first house they pooled their resources on (rather than buying respective condos in the Valley, Renner explained). "We just wanted a roof over our head." They made a roughly $300,000 profit and decided to keep flipping.

In fact, Renner's last Instagram post before the accident, from Dec. 29, was a teaser for Rennervations, a reality series headed to Disney+ this year that combines the pleasures of his side hustle with the hulking platform his movie star status has given him to pay his good fortune forward.

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"It feels good to have your money invested somewhere else," the Northern California native told GQ in 2010 about renovating houses, "and then say, 'F--k you, I don't need your damn movie.'"

Hollywood started investing in him, however, after The Hurt Locker hit theaters in 2009, director Kathryn Bigelow having been impressed by his turn as serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in 2002's Dahmer. Not that he didn't do anything in between: Highlights included starring in S.W.A.T. with Colin Farrell (that paycheck went toward house No. 1), North Country with Charlize Theron and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford with Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck, plus he was the lead in the horror sequel 28 Weeks Later and starred in a short-lived ABC cop procedural called The Unusuals.

But so much of the time in show business, it takes that one part to get everyone talking about you.

"Kathryn wanted fresh faces, so I'm the new guy who's been here 10 years," Renner, whose first paying gig was $50 to play a guy resisting arrest for a police training class at Modesto Junior College, quipped to Reuters in 2009.

Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
First Light Prods/Kingsgatefilms/Kobal/Shutterstock

But Renner, who was 38 at the time, was hardly the first movie star to be caught hiding in plain sight.

"Russell Crowe came to the attention of American audiences when he was 33," Bigelow, who purposely avoided casting a huge name to carry The Hurt Locker, told Reuters. "Daniel Craig also was a 30-something break-out actor. Jeremy's trajectory is not unusual for a serious leading man that can carry a commercial movie but also has real acting chops."

Ironically, Renner expressed reservations about being considered major-motion-picture material.

"I don't want a three-picture deal because that means I get to do one movie I like and two that I don't," he explained. "So do I resist wanting to become a household name? I'm not sure. I understand the upside of being wanted because it creates opportunities. I'll still be steadfast in the opportunities I choose but, at the end of the day, I don't have any doubts about where I'm going or what I'm doing."

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After Renner captivated as Army Sgt. First Class William James, the leader of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit whose heroic nerves of steel start to blur with having a death wish, Affleck cast him in The Town as Jem Coughlin, who's quick with a wisecrack but deadly serious about honor among thieves.

The Town, Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner
Warner Bros. Pictures

"When I first read the script, I didn't understand him at all," Renner told the Los Angeles Times about the part in 2010. "He was electric on the page, but I didn't know why he did these crazy things. What ended up working for me was making it all about brotherhood and loyalty. Those are things that are strong in my life, so I could connect with them."

But Renner identified more with Affleck's Doug, who's angling for one last heist so he can leave the Boston townie bank robber life that Jem's so comfortable with behind.

"People find themselves in ruts all the time," Renner explained. "You're in a complacent lifestyle where you work 9 to 5 and then you add a mortgage and kids. You feel trapped, but guess what, brother? You constructed that life. If you're OK with it, there's nothing wrong with that. But if you've got unease, then you've got to make a change."

After he was bitten by the acting bug in Modesto, he didn't give himself a chance to get stuck.

Jeremy Renner, Instagram

Acting "opened me up in a lot of ways as a man where I could hide in these characters and explore these feelings I was having," Renner recalled. "It was very therapeutic in a lot of ways. Then it became about the artistry, and it shot off and I never looked back. It was an absolute blessing. I love my small town, and I love going back there and supporting the community. But I could not have stayed there. No way."

Which didn't mean he was longing to get lost in the big city, either. Renner settled in the Hollywood Hills but has also owned his home in the mountain pass between Reno, Nev., and Incline Village, on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, for years.

The Washoe County Sheriff's Office named him a special deputy sheriff in 2018 in honor of his support for local law enforcement, and in 2019 he and Ava were among those delivering Thanksgiving meals and other supplies to Reno's unhoused population during the city's annual Harvest of Hope event.

Renner said on The Kelly Clarkson Show in December that he was building a fire station at his Tahoe house because it was in a "hot zone" for fires, he explained, and he'd been training as a volunteer with fire departments in the region. "They are pretty awesome," he said. "They are teaching me and helping me, and I still have to get some more hours in with them."

The Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District told the Reno Gazette Journal that they'd helped Renner acquire fire hoses and engine equipment, while the actor had bought a surplus fire truck from a different agency.

Renner told Men's Health for its December 2021 cover story on the rugged actor that he actually had many trucks, having acquired dozens while on a break from work during the COVID-19 pandemic. "I had 30 fire trucks a hundred feet from a hydrant," he shared. "Not because they're there to firefight, but they all potentially could."

His home wasn't "a horse ranch," he quipped, but "more of a horsepower ranch."

Jeremy Renner, Mayor Of Kingstown
Emerson Miller ViacomCBS ©2021 Paramount+

So, he wasn't content to rest on his action hero laurels from roles like fight club-ready field agent turned IMF security analyst William Brandt in Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation (there were rumors he'd take the reins of the franchise from Tom Cruise, but regardless was only in two films due to Marvel conflicts), rogue super-agent Aaron Cross in The Bourne Legacy and, of course, Hawkeye.

Renner's also playing the No. 1 powerbroker in a Michigan city where the local prison drives the whole economy—a guy who wanted out but ended up taking over for his late brother in the family business instead—in the Paramount+ series Mayor of Kingstown, which is back for a second season starting Jan. 15.

"He's a good guy," Renner told GQ of his character, Mike McClusky. "He can do bad s--t to you, though." The actor started laughing, adding, "Yeah, he'll do whatever it takes to keep the peace. He's not a bad guy at all. He's a selfless guy, which is pretty admirable, I think."

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On the home front, he tries to keep his personal life private, having gone through a messy divorce and custody battle that lasted exponentially longer than his 10-month marriage to Ava's mom, ex-wife Sonni Pacheco. (They continue to share custody.)

Renner told Men's Journal in 2017 that he'd love to have eight kids running around the house, but that probably wasn't in the cards for him.

Jeremy Renner, Ava, Filming

"It takes two," the actor explained. "Doing it alone is not fun. You want to share the experience. You kind of want a partner. I've done so many amazing, cool-ass things in my life—but I think as we get older, there's more value in doing something with somebody."

He told Men's Health last year that, when Marvel time threatened to cut into father-daughter time, he told the franchise decision-makers that he would be fine if they recast him.

"It was pretty gnarly," he recalled of the exchange.

But it worked, and moving forward he has insisted to producers on other projects that he either get time to go see Ava on weekends or she be welcome to visit him on set. If they aren't amenable, he won't do it, Renner said.

Jeremy Renner, Ava Renner

"Acting and everything else goes out the window," he said, "until my daughter says, 'I want to hang out with my friends, and I don't want to be around you so much, Daddy.'"

Renner's overall philosophy appears to be that, whatever life throws at him, he adjusts and problem-solves accordingly.

"I try to do things with a flow and never square peg/round hole something," he explained. "Why force it? Water flows over a rock. It doesn't just stop when it hits an obstacle; it moves around it, right? That's how it is with life. It's my religion, my belief system. Whether it be a bus or a movie or a home or how I parent, that's in everything I do."

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