In Jeremy Renner profile, London paper calls Modesto a cowtown

Editor's note: Some readers may find some of the language in this story objectionable.

In a profile of best actor nominee Jeremy Renner, The Times of London newspaper refers to his hometown of Modesto as a "California cowtown." Renner doesn't exactly heap praise on it, either.

“It’s in the Central Valley, very agricultural,” Renner said in an interview published Saturday. “George Lucas is also from there — that’s where he shot American Graffiti. But I hated it, don’t get me wrong, when I was a young man. I wanted to get the f*** out of there. As an artist? There’s nothing to support you, apart from maybe community theatre.”

In the interview, Renner discusses the difficulties in filming and the long effort taken to get "The Hurt Locker" -- the film that brought him his Academy Award nomination -- distributed to theaters.

The story on Renner begins: "This time last year Jeremy Renner was hurting — hurting badly. It had been almost two decades since he’d moved from the California cowtown of Modesto to Los Angeles, and while the actor had managed to snag a handful of interesting but minor roles — in 28 Weeks Later, for example — he’d failed to make it any farther."

Renner describes his first acting job, in which he got paid $50 to take part in training exercises at the Modesto police academy. Asked to "act unruly," Renner gave a cadet a dose or realism.

"I threw him to the ground, spit on him, and kicked him in the balls,” Renner is quoted as saying. "I think that might have been his first day. I often wonder if he’s still a cop; if he even made it through the academy.”

Renner is one of five nominees for best actor at the Academy Awards, which will be presented Sunday evening in Los Angeles. The consensus among critics and Oscar prognosticators seems to be that "The Hurt Locker" and "Avatar" are the top candidates for best picture.

In other interviews, Renner has spoken fondly of his family, friends and teachers in Modesto. He visits frequently. His family is throwing an Oscar party Sunday evening at The State Theatre downtown, and Renner will walk the red carpet outside the Kodak Theatre with his mother Sunday evening.

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