Jeremy Renner Says ‘I Don’t Have the Energy’ to Play Complex, ‘Challenging’ Characters Since His Near-Death Experience

Jeremy Renner is back and doing well, starring in Season 3 of Paramount+’s “Mayor of Kingstown.” But the two-time Oscar nominee admitted that if it weren’t for his comfort with the role of Mike McLusky, playing him since 2021, he’d have trouble getting into the headspace required for a good performance.

Since his near-fatal snowplow accident on New Year’s Day 2023, Renner shared that he doesn’t “have the energy” to focus on “challenging” roles since all his energy is going toward the reality of his recovery.

“I just don’t have the energy for it. I don’t have the fuel,” Renner told “Smartless” podcast hosts Will Arnett, Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes on Monday’s episode. “I have so much fuel to put into this reality, this body, all this stuff. I can’t just go play make-believe right now. Because that takes a lot of time to get right here every day just so I can, you know, have a positive thought, so I can progress, so I can always keep growing.”

The line of questioning began after Renner, who’s made a miraculous recovery and shown strength and gratitude in the public eye since his scrape with death, shared what the experience has been like and how it made him treasure the present moment while showing that “we all have something to look forward to” in death. He’s come to believe in “divine intervention,” thanks to his state of health.

“Does that translate into how you approach work now, or is it still the same?” Hayes asked of Renner’s newfound mindset.

The actor admitted that returning to work made him “very terrified.”

“Because I’m to do, like, f–king fiction? I’m still trying to live in reality, I’m trying to live,” he said. “So it was a hard line for me to cross.”

“S–t got real and then your job is to be fake,” Bateman reflected.

“Yeah, it was a big stretch. It was very, very challenging for me mentally to get over that hump,” Renner continued. “To like, and I still struggle with it sometimes to, like, I don’t take it super seriously. I’m in a character that I can do very well and I know the show very well, so it was easy for me to kind of slide back into it. But if it was a very challenging role, I couldn’t have taken it. Not challenging in the sense that — because the show’s challenging, but it’s if I had to go play Dahmer or something, something so far from me.”

Suffice to say, replaying one of his breakout roles from 2002’s David Jacobson drama “Dahmer” is not currently on Renner’s to-do list.

Elsewhere in the interview, Renner gave behind-the-scenes stories of working with Ben Affleck on “The Town,” reflected on the bevy of offers that came his way after his Oscar nomination for “The Hurt Locker” in 2008 and shared how he’s writing a book about his recent years of life experience.

“I’m writing one right now, I’m going to spend the whole summer doing it, hopefully I can get it out by year’s end or beginning of next year,” Renner said.

Listen to Jeremy Renner’s full “Smartless” interview via Apple Podcasts, or in the player below:

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