Belgian actor Jérémie Renier made one of the most memorable and challenging cinematic debuts of the 1990s, when the neophyte thespian (then in his teens) signed on to portray one of the leads in Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's cathartic psychosocial drama La Promesse (1996). In that film, Renier played Igor, the son of a ruthless, immigrant-exploiting businessman who finds his loyalties torn violently between adhering his father's wishes and respecting the feelings of a local widow. The film made critics (and producers) sit up and take notice of the young actor, and prompted many additional movie roles for the blossoming Renier, who continued to evince his courage and need for emotionally demanding work -- first as a murder accomplice who falls prey to a rape-happy sex maniac in François Ozon's brutally violent melodrama Criminal Lovers (1999), then as the long-estranged son of a porno director (Jean-Pierre Léaud) in Bertrand Bonello's arthouse drama The Pornographer (2001). Soon thereafter, Renier took on the supporting role of Thomas d'Apcher in the bizarre costume horror/action/martial arts/moster film Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte des Loups, 2001), which was a hit in France, and a modest success internationally.
Renier subsequently re-teamed with the Dardennes for another lead, this time as an irresponsible and amoral father who makes the fateful decision to sell his infant child on the black market in the social conscience drama L'Enfant (2005). The actor then signed for a part in the period psychodrama Atonement; while the film clocked in as an arthouse hit, the role merely constituted a bit part and did little to increase Renier's global recognition even as it thrust him onto the international stage. The actor followed it up with a supporting role as Eirik in Jérémie Renier's crime-themed action comedy In Bruges (2008).