- Published: Monday, 25 November 2013 04:14
- Written by coolshades
411's Al Norton sits down for an exclusive chat with Indpendent Spirit Award winner Jeremy Renner, star of the new ABC series The Unusuals.
Jeremy Renner is a two time Independent Spirit Award nominee, winning their Best Actor award in 2002 for his performance in the title role of Dahmer. He has also appeared in such films as 28 Weeks Later and The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford. His latest project is the ABC series The Unusuals, which debuts tonight at 10 pm.
Al Norton: Were you looking to do a TV series or did the script for The Unusuals just fall into your lap?
Jeremy Renner: I was not really looking to do a series but I was open to it. I had just done a pilot before so I was open to the idea of television because I felt the landscape of TV has changed a lot. It certainly wasn't me pursuing it. It just sort of fell my way and Harold Perrineau, who I worked with on 28 Weeks Later, had signed on to do it so I asked him about it. Then they got the whole thing cast for the most part and I saw who was doing it and I had to do it.
Al Norton: When you get the chance to work with a cast this talented it must be kind of a no-brainer.
Jeremy Renner: Yes. It would have been really hard to turn down, that's for sure.
Al Norton: What about the script, and your character, drew you in?
Jeremy Renner: That was the other part; there were all those great people but it still had to be a good part and I felt like there was a lot of depth to it and it could go in a lot of directions. I was just hoping it wasn't going to go in the direction of being a bad guy, which was my main concern. I was trying to avoid that because I've done a lot of those. To be people in people's living rooms every week, I kind of wanted to be a good guy.
I thought it was an interesting character and we found out more and more each episode, kind of at the same time the audience discovers what they are all about.
Al Norton: I know you've played cops before but did you do any research for the part?
Jeremy Renner: I'd played cops and military before but I'd never played a detective, and not a New York detective. We got to ride alongs and hang out in the precinct, which was the most helpful because I think that's what a lot of the show is. Besides solving the crimes there's a lot of stuff going on in the precinct and the shift and change is very interesting; they're consummate professionals when they're out on the job and they take the job very seriously but when they're back at the precinct they're bitching about who didn't refill the coffee pot.
I'd go in and ask 1000 questions about interrogating and the psychology behind that, everything about a day in the life of their job. More importantly, I think it was the unspoken that told me a lot more. Watching the way they treat each other, the respect they have for each other, the pranks they pull on each other.
Al Norton: Did they ask you questions or make comments about what cop shows they liked?
Jeremy Renner: Oh yeah, they'd make comments about which shows they thought were realistic and which they didn't like. I can't remember which ones because I don't really watch TV but there were only one or two shows they thought were realistic. We hope that this show is realistic enough for them to join the list. Other shows may be realistic about being a cop but not what cops are like, and I think we are going to capture that. If we do that than they are going to really dig it. We're getting a lot of stories from them, that's for sure.
Al Norton: What's Amber Tamblyn like to work with?
Jeremy Renner: She's great. She kind of took me under her wing since she's done a lot of television and I was new to that whole experience. Like everybody else in the cast, she was great to work with, a wonderful human being. She's spunky, she's a lot of fun.
Al Norton: Since TV was new to you, what were some of the differences you noticed between this and doing features?
Jeremy Renner: I think it was the same as what most actors find out. I thought it was going to be a lot of hours and boy did it involve a lot of hours. I figured with a big ensemble cast maybe I'd get a day off once a week but that was not going to happen. We got a little behind, had to re-shoot some stuff, and there was a lot of work to do. Sometimes it's not the most fun stuff to do, the procedural stuff…I'm happy to be working and happy to be doing it, but wow.
For instance, we were working in New York City but I couldn't tell you what New York is about. We could have been anywhere for all I got to see and do. By the time the weekend rolled around I was so tired I didn't want to do anything except veg. And it was also winter (laughing), so it took more energy to bundle up and go do something.
It was a learning process, for sure. The amount of preparation time was different. I like to put a lot of prep into my work and with this you just can't. Stuff is just thrown at you and I just pray I don't suck.
Al Norton: Most of your film work is on the indie side of things; is that by choice or are you just following the jobs?
Jeremy Renner: The job with an independent film is a much more collaborative effort. Even though film is a director's market, independent movies are much more collaborative. The actors, the directors, we're not there for the money, we're there because we want to be there. It's like we're on the same team climbing a massive hill that all independent films really have to climb to even get made.
There are some big movies I like as well but artistically it's not quite as fun, although at least those movies get seen. Most of the movies I do play the festival circuit and then fizzle off to DVD, unfortunately.
Al Norton: That must make it kind of fun to see the promotional campaign ABC is putting behind the show.
Jeremy Renner: Exactly. The work gets seen, I'm not going to complain about that, it's fantastic. I just wish I had a little more input as an actor. I think we all do on the show. Are we underused? Yes, but I think that's television. It's a producers market, it's a writers market, and we're just there to service the show. I realize that now after 10 episodes. I'm here to tell this story the best I can and that is it.
Al Norton: You mentioned before about the landscape of TV and I think right now there is some of the best dramatic storytelling we've seen in decades, but the flip side is that networks are giving shows less and less time to find an audience. Did that make you nervous?
Jeremy Renner: I'm ok with that. If the show doesn't go, I'm totally fine personally, there's a lot of other things I'd like to do. If it goes, great, I'm employed still and that's great. I'm not so into television where I'm going to be crushed if it doesn't go again.
Al Norton: Give me the basic pitch you'd give to viewers about why they should watch The Unusuals.
Jeremy Renner: I think it's fresh and new. I don't think we're reinventing the wheel by any means but from what's on TV now, it's interesting and different, but not too different. If you fall in love with the characters than you're going to love what happens the rest of the way. If you miss a couple of episodes you'll be able to jump in without being lost. There's little nuggets of things that connect but it's not a serial show. It's got a great drama and there is great circumstantial comedy, and there is never any harm in laughing. If the characters catch on than I think we're all set.