Jeremy Renner looks for success, finds "Hurt Locker"

Fri Jul 10, 2009 7:18pm EDT
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By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When casting the three lead soldiers for her action-filled war drama "The Hurt Locker," director Kathryn Bigelow avoided big name talent so audiences wouldn't know who was going to live or die judging solely by Hollywood star power.

The result is an unpredictable and suspenseful movie that is winning fans among critics and movie audiences and could boost the career of one of its stars, Jeremy Renner, to new heights -- if, that is, he wants it.

The 38-year-old actor has worked steadily in Hollywood for roughly a decade earning industry respect but little household name recognition. Yet, he is unsure how much he wants to increase his consumer appeal by working in big-budget studio movies because, he says, he feels more challenged in the world of independent film.

"Kathryn wanted fresh faces so I'm the new guy who's been here 10 years," Renner joked recently with Reuters.

"Hurt Locker" follows an elite band of soldiers who disarm roadside bombs on the streets of Baghdad.

At the center is Renner's character, Staff Sergeant William James, a swaggering, reckless rebel with complete disregard for authority. But for all his bravado, James is affected by his surroundings, as seen in his relationship with an Iraqi boy.

After playing film festivals, "Hurt Locker" opened in major U.S. cities in late June to healthy box office returns, and it expands wider on Friday, July 10.

Online movie rating service FanScore, which ranks films on critical reviews, audience buzz and per-screen ticket sales, puts "Hurt Locker" at No. 3 on its chart of top films with a score of 87, one point behind comedy "The Hangover" and seven points behind No. 1 film, animated "Up" -- not bad company.   Continued...

<p>U.S. actor Jeremy Renner signs autographs on the red carpet at the Venice Film Festival in this September 4, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Max Rossi</p>