In the years before he was an Avenger, Jeremy Renner could have made himself a household name among geeks by signing on for Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy, the actor revealed during a recent interview. Instead, he passed on the role for creative reasons, explaining that while he did not dislike the script, per se, he could not figure out how to penetrate the role, and he would not have fit into the world of Hellboy. Fans (and del Toro) are likely glad that he said no, since Ron Perlman became a fan-favorite in the role and impressed del Toro so much during their collaborations that he would go on to star in more productions by the director.
Perlman would play the role in two films, both of which were beloved by fans of the character, but which did not make enough money for Universal to take the plunge on a third and final installment in the del Toro franchise. After years of trying to make Hellboy 3 happen, instead the film rights changed hands, and filmmaker Neil Marshall (The Descent) tackled a rebooted Hellboy earlier this year. That version starred Stranger Things actor David Harbour in the title role -- an actor whose style was a bit more similar to Renner's, although by that point Renner was doing Marvel movies and off the table for such a project even if he was interested.
“I was just reading the script and [thinking] like, ‘I don’t get this…’ I just couldn’t connect to it,” Renner told EW. “I said, ‘I can’t find a way in [to this character], I don’t know what I’d be doing,’ so I had to say no.”
Renner, who had done a number of journeyman roles in the decade leading up to del Toro's Hellboy, passed on the role that might have made him a household name -- Hellboy ended up earning about $100 million at the box office in 2004 -- but it worked out alright for all involved. Not only did del Toro find his demon, but Renner caught everyone's attention shortly after that with his turn in The Hurt Locker.
“There’s zero regrets, zero. Most of the time it’s like, ‘Oh, I’m glad I didn’t do it,’ and it made sense to me,” Renner explained. “Not just Hellboy or whatever it was, and I’m not saying that it’s a good or bad movie, it’s not about that… I just wouldn’t have fit there.”1comments
The Marshall reboot was a critical and commercial disaster, with its opening weekend getting buried in the enthusiasm for Shazam! and a worldwide lifetime gross of around $22 million -- less than half of its reported $50 million budget and less than a quarter of Hellboy's 2004 gross. Hellboy II: The Golden Army, which came out in 2008 just as Renner's career was taking off, earned $160 million -- more than both of the other Hellboy films combined.
The latest version of Hellboy will be available digitally on July 9, and you can buy it on DVD and Blu-ray on July 23. Avengers: Endgame is still in theaters, and will be available digitally on July 30, with a DVD and Blu-ray release following on August 13.
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