Jeremy Renner, the Oscar nominee who stars in The Avengers and just inked a $5 million deal to star in Bourne Legacy, the next movie in the Jason Bourne franchise, is on the cover of this week’s print edition of The Hollywood Reporter. The cover of a magazine is a funny place for one to complain about the press wanting to know about his or her private life.
In a common Hollywood plea, Renner gets worked up in to a fury when discussing his personal life, and especially the persistent rumors that he is gay. “I want my personal life to be personal, and [the gay rumors are] not f**king true,” he says. “And I don’t care if you’re talking about things that are true, you’re still talking about my personal life. How about I go peek in your window, take what underwear you wore last night, whose husband you were f**king, and shove that in the megaphone throughout your neighborhood? How does that feel?”
The difference, Jeremy, is that we are not public figures and you are. You have traded in your privacy, for better or for worse, to be a big fat movie star who makes $5 million a picture. Did you think that would come without a price? If you don’t like it, you can always be a bus driver or a contractor or a school teacher or one of the million other professions in the world where publicity is not part and parcel of the astronomical salary. Or you could still be an actor and have a nice successful career in character parts or on Broadway and not have to be on the covers of all these magazines airing your dirty laundry.
The reason movie stars make so much money is because they bring people to the theater. The reason they bring people to the theater is because we care about them, both on and off the screen, and are invested in their lives. If they take their lives out of the spotlight, then the money could eventually dry up.
Still, every so often, we see this same plea to be left alone pop up every now and again when dealing with celebrities. Daniel Craig got extra prickly with Entertainment Weekly when they asked him about his marriage to Rachel Weisz in a cover story last summer. Renee Zellweger famously asked for privacy when she divorced Kenny Chesney after being married to him for about 17 seconds. And let’s not forget Johnny Depp who likened having his picture taken to being “raped.”
The worst thing about this is that, clearly, the stars want and need the attention to further their careers and their projects. They have to do interviews, be on the cover of magazines, and dance on the red carpet as a part of their jobs. It’s not that they don’t like being questioned, they just want to govern the kind of questions they’re being asked, whether about their kids, their love life, or their sexual orientation. For any journalist interviewing Renner, the gay question is a valid one — like it or not, actors’ personal business is part of show business. A simple, “I’m not gay,” would suffice and set the record, well, straight. It’s his vehemence that’s off-putting — is bringing up the G-word is somehow tainted or dirty?
I get it, Jeremy, the press can be a bunch of jerks. I’ve been to junkets where even I get tired of journalists asking actors the same tired old questions to the point of madness. (And don’t get me started on the paparazzi, which is a whole different matter but equally invasive and awful.) But that’s part of the invisible contract you signed. You made us love you, so try to take a deep breath and relax when we want to learn more about you.