Jeremy Renner could probably do with some rehabilitation in the eyes of many. The long-time character actor was boosted to unexpected A-list stardom when Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” became an Oscar-winning sensation, but Renner somewhat squandered some of his goodwill by signing up to multiple franchises. Some (Marvel, “Mission: Impossible”) took better than others (“The Bourne Legacy,” “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters”), but even the successful ones felt like they were wasting the actor’s talents, and some douchey press-tour statements and his ridiculous app didn’t help matters much.
Still, the actor’s done enough interesting stuff along the way, like “The Immigrant” and “American Hustle,” to mean that we’ve never given up hope, and a lovely, generous supporting turn in last year’s “Arrival” hopefully started to pave the wave for a Renner-aissance, one seemingly continued with strong reviews at Sundance for Taylor Sheridan’s “Wind River,” which is next headed to Cannes. And now, he’s lined up a project he’ll produce and star in that has us very intrigued.
According to Screen Daily, Renner’s company The Combine have teamed up with PalmStar Media (“Split”) to option two novels by Mary Doria Russell (“The Sparrow”), “Doc” and “Epitaph: A Novel Of The O.K. Corral,” to adapt them with Renner starring as their subject, the legendary gunslinger Doc Holliday.
The figure is likely a familiar one from other movies: as a pal of Wyatt Earp and a gunfighter at the O.K. Corral, Holliday’s been played by actors including Walter Huston, Victor Mature, Kirk Douglas, Jason Robards, Stacy Keach, Dennis Hopper, Willie Nelson, Val Kilmer and Dennis Quaid. But perhaps none of them have captured the sweep of Holliday’s life: he was a dentist diagnosed with tuberculosis and given just months to live before he headed West to become a gambler and a killer, dying at the age of 36.
“We are excited to re-introduce this classic American character to a whole new audience by chronicling Doc Holliday’s incredible transformation from average Joe dentist to a man who Wyatt Earp called the “nerviest, speediest, deadliest man with a six-gun [he] even knew,” said Renner and producing partner Don Handfield in a statement. The project is described by The Hollywood Reporter as a film, but we wonder if, in adapting two novels rather than one, the possibility of a miniseries with a bigger scope might be something they have in mind. There’s no further talent involved at this point (though we’d kill to see Sheridan have a go at this sort of material after “Sicario” and “Hell Or High Water”).
Anyway, it’s a good role for Renner, though don’t expect it to be before cameras any time soon: the actor has to wrap up filming on the two “Avengers’ movies that’ll be shooting through the end of the year before he can move on to other projects.