Jeremy Renner has proven over and over again that he's an intense presence onscreen, from dismantling bombs in The Hurt Locker to going toe-to-toe with Tom Cruise in last December's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. But there's probably few challenges more intense than playing a spy in your own movie, especially when that spy comes from the same program that created the famous Jason Bourne-- and your movie is trying to pick up the baton from where Matt Damon and Jason Bourne left off.

But Renner, as we know, isn't the kind of guy to stumble in the face of a challenge, and knew perfectly well he was going to have to throw himself physically into the role to succeed. But as much as he wanted to give his all to playing Aaron Cross, he had to know his limits, as he explained in a press conference last week:

I could not get injured. I wanted to do as much as I possibly could because of the responsibility of the authenticity of the three films prior. It would do a great injustice to this film if I could not perform what was required. I like those challenges. I like those physical challenges. Outside of that, it’s a job from page one to 120 and tremendous cast and directors and writing. It’s exciting to go to work.

Renner went on to say that "if you don't get banged up, you're not working hard enough, in my mind," which means he definitely wasn't wimping out as soon as the going got tough. But as he describes it, playing Aaron Cross required less acting skills than a simple attention to his survival skills-- method acting isn't really what's on your mind when the simple act of sleeping makes a huge difference in what you can do the next day:

My personal workload, I felt, was minimal compared to the entire process of filmmaking. For me, it was about getting enough sleep and being physically adept enough to be able to perform when I needed to perform. That was it, every day. There was fighting, training, stretching, or whatever I had to do to get through the day. It was like, “Here’s food. Here’s water. Now, go do this.”

For much more on The Bourne Legacy, from Renner and his co-stars and director Tony Gilroy, you can click here. The Bourne Legacy opens in theaters this Friday.

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