For Jeremy Renner, 'Kill the Messenger' is a story that had to be told

Tue Oct 7, 2014 1:19pm EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Whether it's a serial killer, a bomb disposal expert or an investigative journalist in the political thriller movie "Kill the Messenger," actor Jeremy Renner likes playing dark characters and ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances.

"Kill the Messenger," which opens in U.S. theaters on Friday, is based on the true story of the late American journalist Gary Webb who wrote about links between drug traffickers, Nicaraguan rebels and the CIA.

Renner plays Webb, whose three-part series in 1996 about the CIA arming Nicaraguan Contra rebels in the 1980s as crack cocaine was flooding poor urban areas, caused a storm of controversy at the time.

"There are a lot of parallels that we have as people, even though we are very different. There is a rebellious quality to him," Renner, a double Oscar nominee for "The Town" and "The Hurt Locker," said about Webb.

Renner, 43, knew little about him when he first came across the script, which is based on Webb's book "Dark Alliance" and "Kill the Messenger: How the CIA's Crack-Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb" by Nick Schou.

Webb committed suicide in 2004

"I kept researching a little bit more and realized this is a story that I want to tell. And the more I researched it, it became a story I had to tell," he said.

Webb's reports for California's San Jose Mercury News put him and the newspaper on the national map, led to protests by African Americans convinced that the CIA had fueled the crack epidemic among black Americans and left bigger, more influential news organizations embarrassed for not having the story.   Continued...

Cast member Jeremy Renner poses at a press line for "Avengers: Age of Ultron" during the 2014 Comic-Con International Convention in San Diego, California July 26, 2014.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni