Jeremy Renner cemented himself as a genre icon by taking on the role of Clint Barton/Hawkeye in the MCU, but The Hurt Locker actor could have been associated with another sci-fi and fantasy franchise much earlier than 2012's The Avengers.
During a recent guest appearance on Justin Long's podcast, Life Is Short, Renner revealed that he decided to pass on a role in Guillermo del Toro's first Hellboy film adaptation in 2004, despite a major pay incentive of a quarter of a million dollars.
“I was just reading the script and [was] like, ‘I don’t get this.’ Hellboy's kind of the comic thing, and there's like a detective in it. I just couldn’t connect to it,” he said. “I said, ‘I can’t find a way in [to this character], I don’t know what I’d be doing,’ so I had to say no ... I gotta feel like I can contribute something."
Renner didn't specify the role he was up for, but del Toro later confirmed via Twitter that he was up for the character of junior B.R.P.D. agent John Myers.
Rupert Evans (The Man in the High Castle) ended up getting the part of Myers, who is brought into the B.R.P.D. by Professor Bruttenholm (John Hurt) to watch over Hellboy (Ron Perlman). The young agent initially butts heads with the cat-loving demon, but the two characters end up with a mutual respect by the end of the movie.
"There are zero regrets," added Renner when Long asked if he rued the day he turned down del Toro. "Most of the time, it's like, 'Oh, I'm glad I [passed on a role]. It made sense to me. Not just Hellboy or whatever it was. And I'm not saying that's a good or bad movie. It's not about that ... I [just] wouldn't have fit there."
Myers didn't show up in the 2008 sequel, The Golden Army, but an exchange of dialogue between Hellboy and Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) divulges that he was transferred to Antarctica at some point in the past. Given the events of the first film, it's heavily implied that Hellboy pulled some strings to keep Myers out of the way as a romantic competitor for Liz's affections.
Lionsgate recently attempted to reboot the cinematic Hellboy franchise with David Harbour (Chief Jim Hopper in Netflix's Stranger Things) in the titular role. Sadly, the film (helmed by Game of Thrones' Neil Marshall) was a financial and critical failure, nabbing just over $21 million at the domestic box office and a 17% on Rotten Tomatoes. In late June, it was confirmed that a sequel would not be moving forward.
In addition to Todd McFarlane's Spawn reboot and a limited Hawkeye series on Disney+, Renner (fresh off Avengers: Endgame) is also lending his voice to Arctic Justice: Thunder Squad, an animated feature where he'll be playing an Arctic fox named Swifty.
The family-friendly project (in theaters Nov. 8) co-stars the voice talents of Alec Baldwin, Omar Sy, Laurie Holden, Anjelica Huston, James Franco, Heidi Klum, Michael Madsen, John Cleese, Nina Senicar, and Tommy Lee Jones.