A former die-hard theater actor who made a comfortable transition to screens both big and small in the late '90s, Jeremy Renner drew praise and courted controversy with his portrayal of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. A California native, Renner discovered his love for acting while drifting through various majors at college. He dabbled in computer science and criminology before taking an acting class, and soon decided to double major in theater and psychology, the stage offering the struggling student a healthy outlet for his sometimes bottled emotions. After graduation, the aspiring actor moved to Los Angeles in hopes of finding work. A starring role in the play Search and Destroy (which he also co-directed) earned Renner positive notice from critics, and, in 1995, he made his feature debut in the critically panned gross-out comedy National Lampoon's Senior Trip. Numerous film and television supporting roles followed, including a 1999 guest-starring appearance as a former puritan turned menacing vampire on the popular WB series Angel. Three years later, and despite bearing almost no physical resemblance to the titular character, Renner's chillingly low-key performance as a true-life murderer and cannibal in the biopic Dahmer earned him an Independent Spirit Award Best Actor nomination. In 2003, he received more exposure in a role opposite Colin Farrell in the big-budget action thriller S.W.A.T. After taking the lead as an institutionalized member of the Aryan Nation in Neo Ned, he then stepped before the camera for Italian actress/director Asia Argento in J.T. LeRoy's 2004 screen adaptation of his story collection The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things.
Renner scored big roles in the drama North Country and the zombie sequel 28 Weeks Later before heading up the quirky TV cop show The Unusuals, which lasted only one season on ABC. However, his work in Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, as a soldier who specializes in disarming IED's in Iraq, brought him stellar reviews and a number of industry accolades including Best Actor nominations from The Screen Actors Guild, the Independent Spirit Awards, and the Academy. He aslo won that very same award from numerous critics groups.
Two years later he returned to the Oscar race for his supporting turn as Ben Affleck's best frined in The Town. He would follow that up with a pair of giant box office hits, co-starring opposite Tom Cruise in the fourth Mission: Impossible movie, and then taking the part of Hawkeye in The Avengers in 2012. That same year he would take over the part of Jason Bourne in The Bourne Legacy, and he lent his voice to the animated film Ice Age: Continental Drift. He appeared in the Academy Award-nominated American Hustle in 2013 and then filled his plate with sequels like The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Mission: Impossible 5.