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Jeremy Renner Probes Different Side of CIA Life with ‘Kill the Messenger’

Written by on January 31, 2013 

Update: Focus Features has picked up the project for distribution, according to Deadline. Check out the original story below.

They’re expressly meant to entertain paying audiences, so it’s unlikely you think a whole lot about larger effects caused by Jeremy Renner‘s characters in Ghotocol or The Bourne Legacy. (Well, I should say, no matter how much and how desperately the latter tries to come across as a thinking man’s thriller.) Is this, nevertheless, a territory and way of life he’d like to dig into further? Far be it from me to posit what thought goes into his process of selecting a role — save for a series of questions pertaining to Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters — but what follows displays some kind of willingness to explore new, darker facets of spy life.

According to Deadline, Renner has been contracted for the starring role in Kill the Messenger, which Michael Cuesta — recently off the feature Roadie, but best-known for work on episodes of Homeland — has been tapped to helm. The true-life tale, as scripted by Parkland writer-director Peter Landesman, revolves around Gary Webb, a man who sparked media attention from a slate of professional work, as well as up to and past his own tragic suicide; as it shook out, the reporter for San Jose Mercury News took his own life after years of personal attacks from the CIA had left him unable to continue a proper journalism career. (Suddenly, jokes about chems don’t hold the same appeal.)

It can all be traced back to Webb’s 1996 piece, “Dark Alliance,” which connected the American-based Nicaraguan drug trade — sales of crack, in particular — with funding for the Iran-Contra struggle, for which the intelligence agency’s own connections to served as a major source of political controversy during the late ’80s. (The public face of that fiasco is now starring in commercials for Call of Duty.) His accusations against the CIA were not of the most inflammatory sort, considering what directions things went in, but it was enough to provoke accusations that would hurt professional ambitions until his final days.

The narrative content of which is good for Renner, an actor who, despite some good work here or there, has been unable to bite into truly solid roles since The Hurt Locker a few years back. While it’s all for naught if the screenplay doesn’t have anything at its center, Landesman‘s use of “Dark Alliance” itself and, furthermore, Nick Schou‘s well-regarded Kill the Messenger for his template could make a noticeable difference; the quality of the writing remains to be seen, but veracity should be expected. All in all, this sounds like a project with the potential for greatness, so it goes without saying that this writer’s fingers are crossed that it coalesces without much of a hiccup.

Renner‘s The Combine and Scott Stuber‘s Bluegrass are producing, which will allow Cuesta to begin rolling cameras on Kill the Messenger this summer.

Does this sound like a good next step for Renner?

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