How Jeremy Renner Was Cast In THE BOURNE LEGACY

When the Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones sang that you can’t always get what you want, they could have very well been singing about the casting process for almost any movie. Directors have ideas as to who should be in a film. The studio will often have a different idea who should play a certain role. Sometimes a producer will have a girlfriend he would like playing a role. Casting a movie ultimately can become a game of brinksmanship and compromise, but even then sometime it is very hard for all parties involved to come to an agreement. Just take a look at Sam Raimi currently being at loggerheads with Disney as to who shall be cast in their upcoming Oz, The Great And Terrible.

Another film that recently went through a cantankerous sounding casting process was Universal’s The Bourne Legacy. Although the lead role of a spy who has been brainwashed by a special ops organization even shadier than the one that caused all sorts of problems for Matt Damon’s character in the original Bourne trilogy went to Jeremy Renner, the actor was neither director Tony Gilroy nor the studio’s first or seven second choice for the role.

According to an article at Vulture late last week, Gilroy wanted to cast the role of the brainwashed spy with an actor who was lesser-known and as such would be easier for the audience to accept as the character. Understandable, as no director would want the audience thinking “Oh look! There’s so-and-so pretending to be a spy!” while watching their film. Gilroy’s top pick for the role was Australian actor Joel Edgerton.

Universal, on the other hand, was pushing for a younger lead with a bigger marquee name, suggesting Garrett Hedlund, Taylor Kitsch, Colin Farrell or Shia LaBeouf for the part. From what can be gathered, it looks like Gilroy at least entertained some of Universal’s suggestions. LaBeouf refused to take a screen test for the role so he was subsequently stricken from the list of candidates.

And while Universal didn’t think that Edgerton was a name enough to carry The Bourne Legacy, they were considering him for the lead in Snow White And The Hunstman, which already was sporting Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron as its box office draws.

Somehow, the two sides landed on Jeremy Renner as a compromise. He’s certainly older than the other actors the studio was pushing and he has a higher profile than Gilroy’s pick of Edgerton. It’s been said that the studio seems to believe that they are look at Renner being at a point in his career similar to where Matt Damon was when he took on the first Bourne movie back in 2002.

As I mentioned when we reported Renner’s hiring, this will make the third franchise that he’ll be involved in, right after Marvel Studio’s shared superhero universe and Mission Impossible. The big question still remains as to whether three franchise appearances is giving the public too much Renner.

But then again while Renner isn’t quite what everyone wanted, we just might find that he is what the new Bourne movie needs.

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About Rich Drees 7205 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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