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I half-way like Jeremy Renner and I half-way think he’s a total sketchball. Considering my “type” is “dirty sketchballs,” this explains a lot about me. But even I chuckled a bit at this Men’s Journal cover, wherein Renner looks like he’s “the cool theater teacher” doing a middle school production of Grease. Renner covers this mag because he’s promoting Wind River, a movie I actually want to see. The actual Men’s Journal interview is pretty epic, and you know you’re in for a wild ride in the opening, when the magazine notes the “rules” written above the bar at Renner’s LA home: “Do not f–k with Ava; No social media; No photos; No glass by the pool; Nothing in JR’s butt.” Noted. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

Why the “butt” rule? “That’s a joke. But also, don’t put anything in my ass. I really don’t want that.”

His life if he hadn’t discovered acting: “I still would have left Modesto — unless I got somebody pregnant. I had a lot of friends who did that. Who knows? If I didn’t find the acting thing, I might have three divorces and a mullet, driving a forklift.”

Working so much after The Hurt Locker: “I was f–king exhausted. In four years, I slept in my own bed maybe two months. I didn’t see my family, didn’t see my friends. I spent four birthdays in a row with my assistant. It was a glorious time — but it was a long, long run. By the end of it, I was toast.” Not that he has any regrets. “It was all things I wanted to do. But I wouldn’t do it over again.” He looks down the hill at Chris Pratt’s house. “Chris is kind of on that train right now. I couldn’t go on that train again.”

His schedule revolves around his daughter: “I try to get all my work stuff done when I don’t have the baby. Because when I have the baby, everyone else can f–k off.”

The birth of his daughter: “It was like seeing The Matrix. In a second, everything just opened up and made perfect sense.” He named her Ava because it’s “a classic Hollywood name” but also because it’s a palindrome, like Renner. He has custody every other week, he says, and the rest of the time she’s with his ex-wife, Sonni Pacheco…Pacheco lives down the hill from him, and Renner says they’re cordial enough to do the handoff with no drama. “That’s my number one thing as a parent. Continuity and consistency.” I ask him the most fun parts of having a daughter. “Everything’s fun, man. Especially at this age.” She loves dance, gymnastics, musical instruments, swimming. Renner tries to keep her from being too girly: “Like this Christmas, she got a princess castle, but she also got a tool set.”

The custody & divorce fight between he & Sonni: “It was awful. Airing dirty laundry, the mudslinging. I don’t give a f–k about my feelings. But do what’s best for the baby.”

He wants more kids: “I’d like to have eight running around. A gaggle, a little clan.” He thought about having another girl and naming her Hannah, also a palindrome. “But at this point that’s not in my future.” I tell him you never know, but he shakes his head. “It takes two. Doing it alone is not fun. You want to share the experience. You kind of want a partner. I’ve done so many amazing, cool-ass things in my life — but I think as we get older, there’s more value in doing something with somebody.”

He needs his Ford F-150 Raptor for his Tahoe place: “I love that big, ol’ truck. It’s a beast of a rig — the thing is just silly. But I need it for Tahoe. It’s essentially a work vehicle for the ranch.” The ranch is Renner’s biggest toy of all. He bought it three years ago and just finished renovating it: a stone-and-timber cabin on six acres near Lake Tahoe, across the Nevada state line. (Officially, Renner’s a Nevada resident, which he admits is partly “a business decision.” Nevada has no state income tax.) “It’s like Camp Renner up there. All these little outbuildings and trees, clean water and air.” He’s been teaching Ava to ski. And, of course, there are more toys: ATVs and UTVs, motorcycles and snowcats — all the goodies a working-class kid from Modesto could want. “I always wanted that sh-t as a kid, and I could never afford it. So I just said, ‘F–k it. I deserve it.’”

[From Men’s Journal]

There’s a lot of talk about Renner’s house-flipping business and all of his money-making schemes which do, in fact, make a lot of money. For years, most of Renner’s income came from his side-business, flipping houses, and you still get the sense of the poor, working class kid from Modesto who still knows how to hustle. That goes for his media relations too – he knows how to be “open” with a journalist – inviting Men’s Journal into his home, giving the guy an extensive tour, opening up about his daughter – but making sure that it all furthers the narrative Renner wants, which is that he’s just a guy who wants everything for his daughter and that maybe Sonni was the one driving the divorce drama? Who knows at this point?

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Photos courtesy of Men’s Journal.