Written by Sarah

Doesn’t it seem like Jeremy Renner is getting the same role over and over again? After years of doing solid character work, Renner broke out with his Oscar-nominated role in The Hurt Locker. He played an Army explosives expert with a self-destructive streak. His next major movie role was in The Town, playing a wily criminal with a self-destructive streak. He’s got The Avengers on tap (he’s Hawkeye, the master archer with a self-destructive streak), and he’s also banked a role in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, as a (self-destructive?) member of Ethan Hunt’s team. Currently Renner is filming Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, playing a grown Hansel who not only hunts witches but also deals with the residual trauma of his own childhood brush with a cannibal-witch. He’s probably got a self-destructive streak.

And that’s definitely a pattern. Renner keeps getting cast as hard-asses with destructive tendencies. I can count on his motor-mouthed delivery and crazy eyes defining his characters. So is the Bourne spinoff really a leap for him?

Look, I like Renner. A lot. I liked him before The Hurt Locker and I’m really glad to see a guy who’s been known for hard work and steady performances getting this kind of acclaim. I’m not knocking Renner here. I’m knocking the decision to cast Renner, or a guy like him, in this movie. The Bourne spinoff will introduce a new character to the Bourne universe, and they’ve cast a guy who’s just one year younger than Jason Bourne himself, Matt Damon. Renner also kinda sorta looks like Damon, if you squint a little (it’s the eyes, I think).

You know who was being considered for this role? Anthony Mackie. I mean, if we’re going to spin off Bourne, let’s really SPIN OFF BOURNE. As in, let’s not cast a guy that is basically Matt Damon. And Mackie would be a completely new look for Bourne. Here was a chance to really go off book and the Bourne producers stuck to the same script. I just refuse to believe that audiences would be so scandalized by casting an actor of color in a role like this. It came up in the liveblog earlier this week in relation to casting Elizabeth Bennett in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. I suggested Rashida Jones, others said Zoe Saldana. Lainey said, “OMG. People would LOSE THEIR SH-T if you took away a white role and gave it to a dark girl.”

Would we really? I just don’t think we would. Not like, in general. Maybe some nutjob over there. But not all of us, not the majority. I think we could handle it. I think we want to handle it. Now, if only Hollywood would let us handle it.

(Lainey: I wish I had your idealism. But there was an uproar when Willow Smith was considered for Annie. And, well, for those of you who think that the race issue is just a generational problem and doesn’t apply to the young? Google the Alexandra Wallace video. Now imagine girls like her – and there are a LOT more of them than you think – trying to swallow someone not-white playing Elizabeth Bennet. We still have a LOT of road to cover.

Sarah: I know I'm being idealistic but I have to believe people are better than this or else what is the point? The alternative is too depressing and so I'll hope for the best in people instead of expecting the worst.)

File photo from Wenn.com