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Underground Connections: Jeremy Renner

Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker

Like most of the moviegoing free world, I was thrilled to hear that The Hurt Locker star Jeremy Renner was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award. Renner clearly gave the most compelling and engaging performance of the year and hopefully the nomination will propel him from “Isn’t he the guy from …?” status to regular leading man.

While I’ll be rooting for Renner, sadly I think he’ll lose out to Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart, another deserving performance, but in an otherwise lousy movie. At least The Hurt Locker is a great film and one of the most visually inventive mainstream films of 2009. I’m rooting for the film in general, especially a Best Director win for Kathryn Bigelow.

But enough prognosticating. While Jeremy Renner hasn’t been in anything I would personally call an “underground” film, he does have a connection to the underground film world covered regularly on the Underground Film Journal. It’s a bit of a tenuous connection, but one worth noting.

DVD cover featuring Jeremy Renner

One of the Underground Film Journal’s favorite genre producers and screenwriters is Brian Patrick O’Toole, who was behind the two throwback horror flicks Evilution and Basement Jack. O’Toole also co-produced the indie film Neo Ned (2005) in which Renner stars as a neo-Nazi skinhead committed to a mental asylum who falls in love with a black woman (Gabrielle Union) who claims she’s the reincarnation of Adolph Hitler. Personally, I haven’t seen Neo Ned yet, but I love that description. Also co-starring in the film is underground filmmaker Giuseppe Andrews, who directed the Underground Film Journal’s 2002 Movie of the Year In Our Garden.

Neo Ned is available for sale or rent on DVD: Amazon | Netflix

Watch a clip from the film:

Movie poster with Jeremy Renner as Jeffrey Dahmer

Another low-budget indie film that Renner starred in that’s not quite “underground,” but I thoroughly enjoyed was Dahmer (2002). Renner plays infamous serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer in this fictionalized biopic that focuses less on Dahmer’s gruesome activities and more on the killer’s tortured and twisted psyche. Ed Halter, former director of the New York Underground Film Festival and current co-chief of the underground film screening space Light Industry, wrote a rave review of Dahmer for the Village Voice.

Dahmer is also available for sale or rent: Amazon | Netflix

Watch the trailer:


Underground Film Feedback (4 comments)

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  • Nicole K. says:

    I love Jeremy Renner in Dahmer. He gave a chilling, yet sensitive portrayal of Dahmer that threw me for a loop.

    You must-see Neo Ned! It’s a gem of a film.

  • Angelia Irizarry says:

    Neo Ned was excellent! My mother and I watched it one day and were pleasantly surprised as it turned out to be much better than we thought it would be. Jeremy Renner was awesome in it as was Gabrielle Union. A definite must-see!

  • Angelia Irizarry says:

    Right with you on Hurt Locker. I was rooting for it all the way and same as you, I wanted to see Jeremy get the Oscar, but knew it would go to Jeff Bridges. 1st noticed Jeremy in 28 Days Later then in SWAT. Love him!

    • Thanks, Angelia. I think a lot of people felt that Jeremy was the close runner-up to the Oscar. Just for the record: Jeremy is in the sequel 28 WEEKS later. Kind of a small role, but yeah, you really notice him in that one. He’s got such a strong, natural presence on camera.