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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Ethan Hunt has just picked up a new Mission: Impossible team member -- and he's got a specialty in bombs.
Jeremy Renner, who starred in "The Hurt Locker," has been cast opposite Tom Cruise in the next installment of "Mission: Impossible" franchise, which is aiming for a December 16, 2011 release date. Brad Bird is directing the Paramount project, with shooting expected to begin in the fall.
Renner has been on a tear since his Oscar nomination as a bomb-disposal tech in "Hurt Locker" earlier this year. Marvel Studios recently cast him as Hawkeye in its 2012 release, "The Avengers," which is supposed to start shooting in February, and Paul Thomas Anderson wants him for his next film, "The Master."
But the "M:I-4" development is a curious one. As Paramount, Cruise and producer J.J. Abrams, who directed and co-wrote the previous installment, had discussed a new dynamic for the fourth film, the plan was for younger actors to join the M:I team as a hedge if they decided to reboot the series at some point with Cruise's character absent or less central.
Renner is about to turn 40, which makes him just eight years younger than Cruise. If Renner has been cast as a potential successor, that undercuts the idea of carrying on the franchise as a more youthful enterprise.
Deadline New York first reported the Renner casting.
Renner next stars in Ben Affleck's crime drama "The Town," which Warner Bros. opens in three weeks.