Jeremy Renner Talks Breakout Year, ‘Mission: Impossible’ And ‘Avengers’

'Hurt Locker' star is one of the actors we're most thankful for in 2010.

This time of year puts MTV News into a thankful spirit, as we look back at the actors and filmmakers whose work has kept our hearts warm through the winter months and has made us sweat with joy during the summer season. And so each year, we give our thanks.

In the past, we’ve feted Robert Downey Jr. and Ryan Reynolds and Quentin Tarantino . Thankful Week 2010 kicks off with a chat with Jeremy Renner, because his accomplishments over the past 12 months are not only impressive, but richly deserved.

This year, his breakout turn in “The Hurt Locker” landed him at the Oscars with a Best Actor nomination, one of nine the Iraq war flick nabbed. Casting directors soon came a-calling. Having already signed up for Ben Affleck’s “The Town” (a role that led to some early Oscar buzz once again), Paramount tapped Renner to star alongside Tom Cruise in the resurrection of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise. And this summer, the 39-year-old found himself at Comic-Con, standing besides the likes of Downey and Samuel L. Jackson, after being cast as Hawkeye in “The Avengers,” Marvel Studios’ upcoming superhero all-star flick.

Mission, accomplished. These days, Renner is stationed in Dubai, where’s he’s pulling wicked stunts alongside Cruise in “Mission.” During a break from shooting, he called up MTV News to chat about his crazy year, his current production and why he’s so excited to get busy with “Avengers.”

MTV: Congratulations on the stellar year. You start off the year with an Oscar nomination, you’re in “The Town,” you land “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” and “The Avengers.” Does 2010 feel like a landmark year for you?

Jeremy Renner: Over the last 20 years, it certainly is one of the bigger ones. It’s been a tremendous year. I feel very lucky in some ways and ready in other ways. I couldn’t be more blessed. I’m just excited to get to work.

MTV: You’d been around and respected in the industry for a while, but you hadn’t notched that true breakout role until “Hurt Locker.” Were you starting to think it wasn’t going to happen?

Renner: Well, I felt pretty happy over the decade working so much and getting to do some great films. It’s just to be able to do more and stretch and grow as an artist. It never felt like there was a timeline. I was ecstatic about where I was over the last 10 years. I’m almost 40, but I don’t look 40, and I don’t play 40, and I’m not going to for a while!

MTV: Has there been one surreal point over the last year that kind of encapsulates everything for you?

Renner: That’s almost every day, brother, for the last year. I say to my friends, “Is this real? Is this really happening?” I constantly pinch myself, because I can’t believe I’m in Dubai shooting “Mission: Impossible.” I embrace all of it, even the negative things that come along with this success.

MTV: What’s been negative?

Renner: I’m a pretty private individual, and I like to stay private. And I’m pretty free-spirited and pretty giving, and I get taken advantage of, just being too nice sometimes. It’s nice to go to Starbucks for a coffee, but it gets difficult when you have to have 19 conversations to get a cup of coffee. People are usually very respectful, but sometimes I don’t want to chat. It’s a wonderfully high-class problem. I just have to be conscious of what I do and what I say and where I go. I have to be careful about speaking off the cuff. I do have a mouth on me.

MTV: I imagine standing up at Comic-Con next to all those guys was fairly surreal. What was going through your head at that point?

Renner: That’s bananas. That’s bananas for everybody, for Robert Downey and Sam Jackson. You can never get used to that unless you’re Bono. Maybe he’s not used to that. It’s a strange thing, having 7,000 people scream at you, whether they love you or they hate you. I don’t know, it could have been half and half.

MTV: Come on, the fans have embraced you!

Renner: Yeah, I’m pretty lucky about that. But it’s intense!

MTV: What’s been the biggest difference for you professionally since “Hurt Locker”? Is there less for you to prove in auditions? Are you getting the offers you didn’t before?

Renner: Not having to prove anything — that’s been around for a while. Within the industry, that awareness has been around, which has been great. But now things happen faster and they happen more frequently. I’m attached now to big franchise movies. “Mission: Impossible” happened so quickly. And then “The Avengers.” This is going to be the next 10 years of my life. That’s strange, because I’m used to moving on and going to the next movie.

MTV: And now you’re hanging out with Tom Cruise in Dubai.

Renner: I go to work, and I can’t wait to learn from him. I just got to see a little teaser reel from the first couple months I’ve been filming. It was crazy.

MTV: What’s the craziest stunt you’ve had to do?

Renner: Everything. I haven’t gotten to work too much in terms of acting stuff, but the stunts have been insane. Tom has been doing loads. He’s crazy, that guy. It’s unbelievable. He’s fearless. He’s great to watch. He inspires me to want to be better. I’m training in the gym and working out and fighting and doing everything I can to try and keep up. I’m doing hand-to-hand combat, Muay Thai and kung fu and learning how to take someone out quickly. I need to look like I know what I’m doing!

MTV: Well, we’re very thankful that “Mission” is coming back, and we’re very, very thankful “Avengers” is finally happening.

Renner: I was just texting with Downey before I called you.

MTV: Has there been a lot of communication between all you guys?

Renner: We did a creative meeting with everyone months ago before everyone took off. We met with [director] Joss [Whedon] and the cast and Marvel, just in terms of the script and where we want it to go. It was a little powwow. It feels like a very collaborative effort. Right now we’re off and dividing and conquering, but soon we’ll link up and get the rest of the guys and work on that. I’m very thankful for everyone I get to work with. It’s a tremendous time in my life.

Thanksgiving is a time for taking stock, expressing gratitude and, most importantly, overeating. We at MTV News have been gorging all year at movie theaters, so it’s about time we looked back and gave thanks to our favorite actors and filmmakers of 2010. Enjoy exclusive interviews with our winners all week long.

Check out everything we’ve got on “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.”

For breaking news, celebrity columns, humor and more — updated around the clock — visit MTVMoviesBlog.com.