After an extensive acting career in film that included detours into music (and even app development), Jeremy Renner is taking his first leading television role with Paramount+’s Mayor of Kingstown. The gritty crime drama about a Michigan town entrenched in the business of incarceration—created by Hell or Highwater and Yellowstone writer Taylor Sheridan and Hugh Denis—stars Renner as the titular mayor who reluctantly wields power over the corrupted city.
In a virtual roundtable interview, Renner spoke with journalists about making the transition to TV, noting “the big learning curve was it is every day and is relentless. And it just does not stop.” The actor went on to say that he felt a lot of the responsibility because “both [Mayor and Hawkeye] were anchored on the characters I played. And with that became the responsibility and the duties that come along with that [...] setting the tone for the show, and how to work and work ethic; I’ll always work the hardest.”
The corruption-infested world of Mayor of Kingstown was also a challenge for building the character of Mike, which Renner spoke of as trying to find “some sort of grounded stand on the world that was pretty foreign to me… Once I got a grasp of that, then it was all the more emotional sort of context of the character that was very complex. With his fortitude and strength and his fearlessness and his actionability, all those types of things were, you know, all assets and characteristics that I like to play.”
Renner also discussed Mike’s reluctance to enter into this position of power, and if there will be a possibility of escape. “Short answer is no. No, he doesn’t want to fucking be there. [But] there’s the bleakness of the thing, and you don’t know what else to do. This is all you know, in your life, right? When you grew up in a town of prisons where everything in the town is about incarceration… you know, it’s like what else do you do? Where else do you go? Yeah, go to Florida. All your life is known and built around this sort of environment. And these people are products of that environment. So there’s a sadness and acceptance of this sort of thing.”
The biggest adjustment for Renner was getting back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the film industry. Coming off the upcoming Hawkeye series on Disney+, Renner said, “I was glad to be able to kind of get up and do it. And it was… wow. But you know, I wonder what it would’ve been like if I was more prepared in the sense of… in my body, to think like we’re back in our normal lives, if you will. Like when we’re out and about and really kind of more active in life in a way, instead of coming out of a box like okay, what are we doing? No bow and arrow? [...] Psychologically it is a big shift as well to be amongst people.”
Renner also spoke on his continued collaboration with Sheridan, who he had previously worked with on 2018’s Wind River. “I just love how wonderfully honest his writing is. And it comes with the ferocity of his words and the actions that he uses the words against him. You know, violent [but] as equally beautifully thematically poetic and timely and important with social issues. And when you have that sort of yin and yang of dialogue, let alone storytelling, it just creates a wonderful smash of drama. And it’s always purposeful. Everything is purposeful, there’s no fat in it. It’s just like a David and Goliath. It’s just like Greek mythology.”
Mayor of Kingstown premieres Sunday, November 14th on Paramount+.
Leila Jordan is the TV intern for Paste Magazine. To talk about all things movies, TV, and useless trivia you can find her @galaxyleila
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