Exclusive: Jeremy Renner Confirms He’s Being Groomed To Take Over ‘Mission: Impossible’ Franchise

It was nearly 10 p.m. after a long day of shooting on location in Dubai on “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” but Jeremy Renner was still full of energy. Maybe he was still amped on adrenaline after weeks of perilous stunt work. Just one look at photos from the “Mission” setTom Cruise treating the 2,217-foot-tall Burj Khalifa tower like it’s the world’s tallest jungle gym — makes clear just how nuts the shoot has been.

Whatever the case, Renner was stoked to be honored during MTV News’ Thankful Week as one of the actors we’re most grateful for in 2010. During our extended chat — which you can read here — we touched on everything from the “Mission” shoot and his upcoming superhero turn in “The Avengers” to why it’s now difficult to head into his local Starbucks. But one particular bit of “Mission” news jumped out: Renner confirmed that he is indeed being groomed to take over the franchise from Tom Cruise.

In June of ’09, rumors started circulating that Cruise was looking to re-launch the franchise — dormant since 2006 — with an eye toward handing the series off to a younger actor or even an ensemble. With Renner now starring in “Ghost Protocol,” I asked if in fact he’s been cast with that idea of taking over for Cruise.

“It’s a franchise to potentially take over,” he said. “I can’t predict the future and what they want, but that’s certainly the idea.”

Renner, though, declined to say whether such a hand-off is written into the script or if it’s something that would become clear in a future sequel. “I can’t really go into the details of the script, because that’s still evolving,” he said. “It’s Tom’s baby. He’s the engine behind the thing. What happens after that, we’ll see.”

The 39-year-old, so it seems, is focused simply on getting through the Dubai shoot and all those crazy stunts. Asked to name the most extreme stunt he’s pulled off, Renner simply responded, “Everything.”

“I haven’t gotten to work too much in terms of acting stuff, but the stunts have been insane,” he added. “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!”

Do you think Renner is the right guy to take over for Tom Cruise as the headliner of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise? Tell us in the comments!