What a difference a year makes. Speaking onstage at CinemaCon, Jeremy Renner — best known for his role as Hawkeye in Marvel's Avengers movie franchise — talked about loving co-star Amy Adams in their upcoming sci-fi film Story of Your Life. He said he was drawn to the project because it had something Hollywood generally lacks: a strong female protagonist.
"It's Amy's story, and there's not enough cinema in Hollywood where we have a strong, badass, intelligent female lead," Renner said, according to Variety. "I think that's important."
It's true: While Hollywood has made important progress in the past year — notably, compelling lead roles in the likes of Mad Max: Fury Road and Star Wars: The Force Awakens — there's still a lack of opportunities for female leads in film. What's surprising isn't the quote, however, but the source.
While making the press rounds for the highly anticipated Avengers: Age of Ultron last year, Renner sang a different tune when referencing Black Widow, his Avengers co-star Scarlett Johansson's character. When a reporter with Digital Spy asked Renner and co-star Chris Evans about the character and the potential love interests fans have put forth with her — specifically, with their characters — Renner's response wasn't so forward-thinking.
"She's a slut," Renner says, before Evans breaks out in laughter and calls her "a complete whore." The duo later apologized for their remarks, though Renner's tone was less sorry and more excusatory. He said it was a means to "poke fun" at an "exhausting and tedious press tour."
Moreover, Renner's comments last fall on the gender pay gap in Hollywood imply a lack of concern. Specifically, he said the gender wage gap was "not his job;" instead, his focus is working to improve his craft. "When it comes to that sort of stuff I let other people deal with that," Renner said. "I do what I'm good at, that's what I focus on."
That Renner's tune has changed so dramatically isn't a bad thing; if this is truly how he feels, it's an encouraging notion for an actor whose celebrity has risen in recent years thanks to the financial and critical success of the Avengers series. If additional actors spoke up, actual change might happen. At the very least, this is a very good day for Renner's publicity team.