Jeremy Renner's surprising sideline

Two-time Academy Award-nominee Jeremy Renner.

CBS News

Actor Jeremy Renner's success was a long time in the making, as he tells our John Blackstone in a round of Questions-and-Answers: 

In Jeremy Renner's new movie, "Wind River," it's winter in the mountains of Wyoming … and there's a body found in the snow.

Jeremy Renner in the thriller "Wind River." Weinstein Company

Renner plays a man who has a lethal skill, but is still vulnerable. 

"I like that he's a father and a father dealing with loss," Renner said. "And that's something I haven't played. I know there was a lot of restraint in the character."

There is little restraint in other characters Renner has played in three movie franchises: a spy in "Mission: Impossible"; a secret agent in "The Bourne Legacy"; and he's now a fixture in the "Avengers" superhero movies, wielding a bow and arrow as Hawkeye.

"Don't get me wrong; I considered, like, 'Oh, am I gonna have enough energy to do this?'" he laughed. "'Am I gonna have the time to do this?' But, I'm, like, yeah, these are awesome movies! I'm an idiot not to say 'yes,' you know?"

Jeremy Renner in "The Hurt Locker" (2009). Summit Entertainment

In 2008 Renner played a more realistic hero, a military bomb disposal expert in Iraq in "The Hurt Locker."

"The Hurt Locker" was largely shot in Jordan, in hundred-degree-plus temperatures, with Renner wearing a real bomb disposal suit.

Blackstone asked, "Couldn't they have given you something that didn't weigh 100 pounds?"

"Yeah, they actually thought about it," Renner said. "But then, you walk differently in it. Everything about that movie was authentic as you can be. 

It's just one of those experiences, it wasn't a movie," he said. "It changed me a lot. Changed me a lot."

When he was nominated for an Academy Award he made a phone call that can still touch his emotions: Asking his mother to be his date at the Oscars ceremony. "That was a really good, cool thing. And she said, 'Of course I'll be your date!'"

Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye in Marvel's "Captain America: Civil War" (2016). © Marvel/Film Frame

Renner is the oldest of his mother's six children, a family that lived modestly in Modesto, California,

"I grew up with no money," he said. "I'm used to having no money."

Hollywood was not in his plans. "No, no. I knew I had to go to college. I should go."

So his father suggested the local community college. "'Pick a class and go take it. Go fail.' I always had love. And that, 'Go fail, son,' empowered me to go succeed, or try. So, I did. I went and just tried stuff, you know? And one of them was an acting class. Once I tried that acting class, it stuck."

He left for Los Angeles determined to be noticed:  "I gave myself 11 years," he said. "'I don't know why 11 years. 11 years, I'll need to be in a movie, a movie big enough that's gonna play in Modesto, and be in a role that I didn't have to tell my parents, I'm the guy in the red shirt in the background.' I just wanted to be, like, 'You'll see me in that movie.'"

That movie turned out to be "National Lampoon's Senior Trip."  "That was my first job ever. That's not a bad job for a first job," he said.

But after that promising start, it would be almost seven years before Renner had his next major role. "It took time," he said. 

His break came with "Dahmer" in 2002, playing serial killer Jeffery Dahmer. The next year he was cast as a rogue policeman in "SWAT."

For the first time he had a bit of money … and found something to do with it: He bought his first house, pooling money with his brother and fixing it up. "And the realtor's like, 'Oh, I can sell this for this number.' I'm like, 'What? Okay!'"

It was the start of Jeremy Renner making his mark on Hollywood … as a house flipper.

Jeremy Renner with correspondent John Blackstone. CBS News

"And often you were sleeping in those unfinished houses?" Blackstone asked.

"Always," Renner said. "Yeah, that part sucked! During 'The Hurt Locker,' we were in a house with no electricity, no running water. I was sleeping in a tent. My tuxedo was in that old tent. I had to step over some nails and get my tuxedo on and go in a limo to a Starbuck's, brush my teeth. I'm, like, 'All right, I'm ready!'"

He's done 27 houses by now.

He drafted the plans for remodeling the home he lives in today with a swimming pool fit for a theme park.

"This is not just a pool. I mean, this is an event!" laughed Blackstone.

"Well, I wanted it to be like a playground for all the kids in my family, and then a playground for all the adults in my family," he said. 

Most important to Renner is his four-year-old daughter, Ava. He shares custody with ex-wife, model Sonni Pacheco. 

"I think right now my attention is to be a father. That's my best role to date."

In a pool house he converted to a music studio he writes and records his own songs. "Yeah, it was my first love, music."

The song "Gardens of Stone" was written for Ava. But he doesn't release his music, calling it a personal thing. "No one hears this stuff!" he laughed.

After "Wind River" he will be kept busy with more "Avengers" sequels. His acting career may have had a slow start, but Jeremy Renner is now much in demand.

"What's gonna happen next? I have no idea!" he laughed. "Yeah, I'm excited to see, excited to grow, excited to see what's gonna happen."

To watch a trailer for "Wind River" click on the video player below:

WIND RIVER - Official US Trailer by The Weinstein Company on YouTube

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