7 takeaways from Jeremy Renner's panel at Phoenix Fan Fusion 2023 | Phoenix New Times

Film & TV

Seven reasons why Jeremy Renner charmed the pants off Phoenix Fan Fusion

The MCU actor had a lot to say about his ongoing recovery, making music, and new career goals.
Actor Jeremy Renner during his panel at Phoenix Fan Fusion 2023 on Friday, June 2.
Actor Jeremy Renner during his panel at Phoenix Fan Fusion 2023 on Friday, June 2. Benjamin Leatherman
Share this:
I vastly underestimated Jeremy Renner.

Sure, he’s Hawkeye in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The show-stealer in both "The Town" and "The Hurt Locker." But he’s still no Chris Evans, right?

The 1,000-ish attendees at his panel at Phoenix Fan Fusion on Friday vehemently disagreed.

For nearly an hour, Renner drove home his star status as this beloved, charismatic talent to a cross-segment of super-fans. With grace and wit, he proved why he is, in short, a proper American sweetheart.

He’s a survivor

Renner was in the news this past December following an accident with a snowplow. He’s still in recovery, walking with a minor limp and having trouble standing for extended periods of time. But, he quickly added, the experience proved to be a real eye-opener.

"From under a snowplow, it’s a different view," Renner said. "Everything’s more wonderfully sensitive. Coffee's better. It’s glorious to be full of love and titanium."

He wants to give back

The accident informed a lot of his recent efforts, including "Rennervations" on Disney+. It's "Pimp My Ride" meets "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," where Renner and crew repurpose old vehicles and heavy equipment into fantastical new machines.

"It started when I went to government garage sales; I bought a fire truck while looking for construction equipment," said Renner. "We made a party bus for a kid, with a snow cone machine on the side."

The show, Renner mentioned, wasn't just about having something to do, but to re-focus his energies and find a new path after the accident.

"There'll be more after this season," said Renner. "I'm not even asking Disney — they don’t even have a say in it."

He’s a giver

The thing with "Rennervations," and his rededication in general, is that it's born out of a larger passion: helping kids. And that starts at home.

"My priorities have always been the same: Whatever my daughter lets me do," Renner said of securing future gigs. "I’m not missing out on her 4th-grade graduation."

Renner also mentioned one significant "Rennervations" project: overhauling a city bus for school kids in Mexico. It has inspired him to go beyond the show to do more.

"I'm starting a foundation," Renner said. "Sure, I’d like to do it on camera again — to show being thoughtful is a fun thing to do for people. But this is what I’ll be doing with all my time. And every once in a while I’ll do an acting gig."

He’s multitalented

It wasn't all about Renner's charitable efforts, either. Renner also opened up about other interests, including music.

"It's something I've done since I was a kid," Renner said. "It was the first real love that I had, but it was very private. I did it for me."

That’s since changed, and Renner’s recorded songs for various soundtracks (including "North Country") and released "The Medicine" EP in 2020. But it's still this joyful thing that Renner makes room for in his ever-evolving career.

"Now there's a lot I want to write about," Renner said. "I'm in a physical and emotional and mental place to record this summer. It might be therapeutic to my recovery."

He strategically picks roles

Most folks were there for Renner the actor, and during the panel he had plenty of charming and heartwarming tidbits to reveal. That includes ample talk about both "Wind River" (a murder-mystery set on the reservation) and "The Hurt Locker." Both films are essential to Renner's self-image.

"Between that ['Wind River'] and Will James in 'Hurt Locker,' both are very close to me as a human, a man," Renner said. "I learned a lot about myself — cementing [things] I believe in myself wholeheartedly."

He adores the MCU

The MCU routinely came up, including a funny story where he almost didn't take the Hawkeye role if they "kept the tassles." Luckily, Renner liked the "pragmatic military guy" and he signed for what became a massive life experience.

"I didn’t know where it was going to end up going," Renner said. "I still don’t think we know."

He also had heaps to say about "Avengers: Endgame," which really encapsulated a lot of what Renner seemed to enjoy the most about his efforts as Hawkeye.

"When we filmed 'Endgame,' it was like shooting this small independent film with Scarlet [Johansson]," Renner said. "And you put a bunch of independent films together and you get a Marvel movie."

He added, "I wanted to watch the audience watch it. I was laughing and crying hysterically the whole time. I can’t put it into words. It's hard to see because it’s a decade of our life."

He’s always appreciative

Despite the recent ups and downs, Renner wasn't put off by the work ahead. If anything, all that just crystallizes his life’s path, and the spark of courage and community he wants to carry onward into every new endeavor.

"I can’t count how much I’ve been on set in the last 30 years," Renner said. "But every walking moment is my favorite. I get to play make-believe for a living. I feel very blessed."
KEEP NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls. Make a one-time donation today for as little as $1.