Jeremy Renner in talks to play Wikileaks founder Julian Assange: good choice?

In late 2010 and early 2011, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange made international headlines after he was held in England after being charged with sexual assault in Sweden. I’m not going to get into all of the hard-news stuff about Wikileaks and the crimes Assange was accused of and all of that, but I will say that for a brief moment there (like, about two months), I thought Julian Assange was kind of sexy in a creepy, uncomfortable way. Since then, I grew weary of Assange, and he began to seem more an international douchebag who gets too much enjoyment out of being the “pet cause” of some very wealthy people with their own non-transparency agendas. You know what I mean? If Assange had stuck with the message of “all governments need more transparency,” at least he would have a moral crusade, a consistent message about free speech, freedom of the press and good government. But as time passed, he just seems like a disorganized, corrupt, narcissistic asshat with no real guiding principles.

That being said, the story of rapid rise and fall of Julian Assange makes for a compelling story, and there will probably be one of more movies made about Assange and Wikileaks. Last January, we discussed the possible casting choices for Assange – the suggestions included: Paul Bettany, Tim Robbins (too old, though), Ralph Fiennes, Ed Norton, and of course, Tilda Swinton. My pick is still Michael Fassbender – I think Fassy could bring the necessary pathos and the “preening” sense to the Assange role, and it disturbs me that no one else sees it. Anyway, it looks like the first Assange bio-pic (-ish) out of the gate might star someone we never suggested as Assange: Jeremy Renner! Um… what?

Remember when Julian Assange was a hot news item? While the media has moved on from the escapades of the WikiLeaks founder (who is now fighting deportation to Sweden to face alleged sexual assault charges), one of the many projects in the works about him has drawn some high profile names.

Over at DreamWorks, Jeremy Renner is taking a look at playing Assange, while Bill Condon is kicking the tires on directing. As you might remember, way back in the spring of 2011, the studio acquired the screen rights for “Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website” and “WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy.” The former was penned by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a former high-ranking Wikileaks member who defected, uncomfortable with the organization’s broad dumping of material without discretion. The latter book was written by journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding, who recount their dealings with Assange — who once hid from the CIA in Leigh’s house — as they worked with him on the publication of a couple of the big document dumps that made waves last year.

Both Renner and Condon are interesting choices to take on the untitled film. For Renner, he’d get to try on an accent while also delving into a deeply complex character, while Condon will get to do something a lot meatier than the “Twilight: Breaking Dawn” films he’s spent the last few years putting together. The tricky part of course, is that Assange’s story is still on going as he seeks asylum in Ecuador, and as Wikileaks has recently found a way around Visa and MasterCard’s attempt to block donations, and are on the way to becoming financially viable again, which could open up a more active chapter for the group.

But the other side of the coin is that there are a number of competing projects in development including one from “The Hurt Locker” scribe Mark Boal based on the New York Times Magazine article “The Boy Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest: Dealing With Assange And The WikiLeaks Secrets”; a documentary by Alex Gibney; another film based on the biography “The Most Dangerous Man In The World”; an HBO movie based on The New Yorker article “No Secrets: Julian Assange’s Mission for Total Transparency” and “Underground” about Assange’s early days as a computer hacker, which already shot this spring. Take that Snow White movies!

We’ll see if this actually moves forward, but if it’s already attracting this kind of talent, it looks like Assange won’t be fading from public memory any time soon.

[From Indie Wire]

Y’all know I love some Jeremy Renner, and I think we haven’t even seen the extent of his range as an actor. I have no doubt that on sheer talent alone, he would give an interesting portrait of Assange. But! I still think it should go to another actor. An actor who simply looks more like Assange. I’m still saying Fassbender. Or, you know, Tilda.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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40 Responses to “Jeremy Renner in talks to play Wikileaks founder Julian Assange: good choice?”

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  1. gee says:

    YES to Tilda! I love Jeremy Renner though. Anything with him, I will see.

  2. storyteller says:

    Interesting choice! Sure the resemblance is faint (if there at all) but If Ralph Fiennes can look like Charles Dickens (uncanny!) I figure Hollywood make-up/special effects can do some magic with Renner. Performance wise though, he would absolutely kill it. The guy’s a terrific actor.

  3. marie says:

    Fassbender looks nothing like Assange to me, at least Renner and him have the same nose..

    • hoya_chick says:

      I agree. I think Kaiser is being bias here, no way fassy looks more like julian than jeremy. I think Renner is fantastic. Loved him in Hurt Locker, Avengers, Thor and The Town think he will be fantastic in this and I am looking forward to the Bourne Legacy next month.

    • Tiffany says:

      I think modern audiences put waaaaaay too much importance on how much an actor looks like the person they are playing.

      IMO, it is better to get an actor who can nail the vibe of the person, their mannerisms and attitude, etc. If someone who doesn’t look like Assange can do a better acting job, I think they should get the role.

      • hoya_chick says:

        But Tiffany isn’t it the point to get an actor that can actually act and has a strong resemblance to the person they are portraying? What’s the point of casting someone who looks nothing like the person? The point I think I, along with others are making is that Renner is a great actor AND has a resemblance to Julian.

    • CN says:

      Yes, but will he pull off the Australian accent? Should be very interesting!

  4. sara says:

    Stop mentioning fn Fassbender in EVERY post. It’s getting incredibly tedious.

    • ZenB!tch says:

      Let’s compromise… she can mention him if she stops posting those photos of him. His teeth… my GAWD – his TEETH!

      The English may not have the same access to orthodontics, that the US has but I know they sell toothbrushes and toothpaste.

  5. Ranunculus says:

    I think Assanges story is a very important one to tell, but biopics usually fall flat unfortunately. But if the script is good, Renner is a great choice. Would have loved for him to do that PTA movie but I guess his schedule was too tight for that one.

  6. Eve says:

    But! I still think it should go to another actor. An actor who simply looks more like Assange. I’m still saying Fassbender.

    That makes Renner an even better choice than Fassbender, who looks NOTHING like Assange.

    Sorry, Kaiser.

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      ITA, Eve. Fassbender doesn’t fit the description. Renner would be fantastic.

    • stellalovejoydiver says:

      Eve, I know you don´t like him anymore, but Ed Norton would be the perfect choice to play Assange: intelligent and weirdly sexy, but also an anal, controlling, paranoid, megalomaniac douchebag.

      • Eve says:

        Oh, I don’t think he’s a bad actor at all. Slightly overrated but still very good. I just fell “out of love” with him.

        Your suggestion makes perfect sense.

  7. Tiffany27 says:

    Um, Fassy looks NOTHING like this dude. With Jeremy I can at least see it if I close one eye and squint a bit. Also Jeremy will do a really good job. And even though I read somewhere that he was a major d*ck on the Bourne Legacy set, I am STILL on The Avengers high as I made my pre-order for the dvd yesterday :)

    • Eve says:

      And even though I read somewhere that he was a major d*ck on the Bourne Legacy set

      Really? Are you sure they weren’t talking about Edward Norton?

      By the way, I’ve been obsessing with Oscar Isaac A LOT lately and he plays one of the “bournes” in this movie but, back in 2008, I vowed to never again support Norton’s movies. Now I’m torn between watching it for Isaac and not watching it because I hate being a hypocrite.

      So…I’ll wait for your take on The Bourne Legacy once you’ve seen it, ok? You’ll tell me if it’s worth breaking my vows.

      • Tiffany27 says:

        I’ll definitely let you know Eve :) . I must investigate this Oscar Isaac person. You have good taste ;) .

        And no, they were talking about Jeremy Renner. Someone on ONTD said they had a friend who worked on set and said Rachel was really, really sweet, but Renner expected everyone to treat him like royalty. And he apparently was openly cheating on his girlfriend with some young girls while they filmed in the Phillipines

      • Eve says:

        I’ll remain a little skeptical about the poster on ONTD. It could be true, it could be someone with a grudge against Renner. I need more reports/evidence about his behaviour before I can declare him a major dickwad (which is what I did with Norton).

        About Oscar Isaac — you should check Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood”. The movie itself will probably bore you to tears, but I swear you’ll love Isaac in it — his King John is such an unapologetic asshole! I loved it. I was always waiting for him to show up on screen and save me from that boredom.

        He’s also in “Drive” and “Sucker Punch” (dumb movie, but he’s great as the villain).

      • Tiffany27 says:

        Wait so what happened with Ed Norton?

      • Eve says:

        It’s not just one story, but many, about his behaviour on set (or during the production of every movie he’s in). And I’ve posted many times about it on Celebitchy. But here’s a short recap: he’s a dick, plain and simple. I had been folowing his career for more than 10 years when he signed to play Bruce Banner in Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk. But he outdid himself — in being a diva — while he was working in that movie.

        I already knew about his reputation of being a diva, rewriting entire pages of the script (like he did while shooting “Red Dragon”) or editing the whole movie behind the director’s back (happened in “American History X”). So I knew he was “difficult to work with”, but I, as a stone cold fan, always gave the “he’s a perfectionist” excuse.

        But when I started reading all the things that went down during The Incredible Hulk’s production, I gave up. Among many things, he refused to promote the movie (a freaking 150- million-dollar movie) properly because it wasn’t edited the way he wanted. If you search for articles around the time TIH was released you’ll see he attended only two premieres for the tv, and one talk show (Jimmy Kimmel’s) and, perhaps, a couple more interviews. Universal released a statement back then saying he had fulfilled his contractual obligations. I read it as “He did enough not to be sued by the studio”.

        When The Avengers was announced, then it started again. He must have been a real pain in the ass and possibly demanded some control over the movie. Because Kevin Feige released a rather bitchy statement regarding his dismissal, remember?

        He lost a fan.

        I posted three or four links to stories about his insufferable behaviour on set (on IMDb). Let me see if they’re still there — if so, I’ll post them here and you can check for yourself.

        By the way, sorry for the super long post.

      • Eve says:

        Links (copied from my original post on IMDb):

        First three are about his brawls with Marvel and screenwriter Zak Penn:

        http://www.slashfilm.com/the-truth-about-edward-norton-vs-marvel/

        http://www.deadline.com/2008/03/ed-norton-and-marvel-in-a-hulk-ing-feud/

        http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20191802,00.html

        And an article from LA Times with some of his famous fights listed in cronological order:

        http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jun/13/entertainment/et-norton13

        After TIH was released he started playing “hard to get” and gave interviews where he said he wasn’t sure he would like to reprise his role as Bruce Banner. He then went on to say “The minds of Marvel are sometimes opaque. I won’t say obtuse, but opaque”.

        http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1597611/another-hulk-film-edward-nortons-future.jhtml

      • Tiffany27 says:

        Ugh! That’s so disappointing. I knew he was an a**hole on The Incredible Hulk but I didn’t know it was a pattern. He’s a really good actor so I hate that he’s a douche. As for the Renner thing, I read somewhere else that he was a bit of a pill on the Mission Impossible set as well. BUT I also read he’s really nice to fans when they meet him So I will withhold judgment as well. Also he’s supposed to be in Captain America: Winter Soldier so I’m super excited!!

      • Eve says:

        EDIT:

        Sorry, I made a mistake. I meant “If you search for articles around the time TIH was released you’ll see he attended only two premieres for the the movie (the one in LA and the one in Japan), and one talk show (Jimmy Kimmel’s)…

        If you have any time, check those links (I made sure to post links to non-gossip sites). You’ll see how annoying he can be.

      • Tiffany27 says:

        Yikes! What a tool! Am going to see this movie only for Renner. Norton can suck it.
        And HOLY HELL!!!! Oscar Isaac is beautiful!

      • Eve says:

        Am going to see this movie only for Renner. Norton can suck it.

        Well, I’ll be waiting for your opinion.

        And Isaac isn’t only beautiful, he’s really talented as well. I’m never totally attracted to an actor and his looks if he doesn’t have acting skills to back that up.

        Oh, I forgot to add Madonna’s movie to that list. He’s fantastic in W.E. (again, the movie itself isn’t good, but it’s watchable).

      • Tiffany27 says:

        I’ll definitely check out some of his movies. Probably the Robin Hood one. I’m not much of a looks person either, but I saw a pic and saw Guatemalan and I was pretty much gone :)

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        This depresses me. I always really liked Edward Norton. Had NO idea he was such a little sh*t :(

      • anti says:

        thought ed norton would be great until i read the posts here :(

        http://assets.gearlive.com/celebrities/blogimages/edward_norton.jpg

      • ZenB!tch says:

        I’ve heard horrible things about Edward Norton – personally and professionally. When I heard the more um personal ones – I was glad to know my creep-dar was still working. I never liked him and other than his dating Hourtney Love (big clue that one) I had no reason to.

        I won’t boycott the Bourne movie because I’m curious. I was never drawn to Matt Damon so I’ve never seen one. I am drawn to Jeremy Renner.

        I also wouldn’t be surprised if he had an asshole moment, this is all happening so fast for him. He must be feeling weird and confused.

        His oft-mentioned Porsche is kind of a tell about his asshole moment. If the asshole moment lasts then I will rethink Mr. Renner.

        Ugh! Opaque vs. Obtuse which he has to clarify in case the stupid little reporter thinks he misspoke.

        I’ve been avoiding Edward Norton for so long that I forgot he was more pretentious than Ashley Judd and Natalie Portman combined – with a dash of Goop. Reading these links is going to be fun.

        Where is his degree from again?

      • ZenB!tch says:

        @anti considering what a creepazoid I think Julian Assange is (personally, not professionally). I think Ed Norton would be the most realistic and ideal choice. I tend to forget he exists.

    • ZenB!tch says:

      Wait Renner has a GF to cheat on now?

      I thought we had decided he was gay. I also thought he was doing bad things in Thailand (straight or gay – I tar things in Thailand equally).

      I’m so confused! ;)

      ETA: if Renner is gay and hiding it, the source to ONTD could be Renner himself. I read some thing where his drama teacher outed him back when no one cared.

  8. alonsyalonso1 says:

    I don’t think there should be a film about Julian Assange at all.

    I’m sorry to bring this up, as this is a gossip site, but to us Aussies, Assange and Wiki Leaks is a touchy subject. Many people think he made his bed and he should lie in it, but many more think that he needs aid from our government who has done nothing to help him from getting extradited to Sweden.

    • Holl says:

      I cant stand him. I have family in the military, CIA, & department of state and he put them (& their families) directly in harms way by releasing classified documents without taking out the names of employees.

      Bradley Manning (who hopefully is in Fort Leavenworth getting the proper by the book punishment for distribution of classified documents) deserves the harsher punishment for actually giving secret federal documents to a foreign entity but Assange deserves to be punished for publicizing them too although I’ll agree the rape charge is a bogus way to get him in any court.

      I hope they don’t make Assange out to be millionaire by making a biopic.

      • alonsyalonso1 says:

        The case in ongoing and that’s what annoys me. Hollywood should just leave it alone. Assange is milking the international stage enough with his a web “chat show” interviewing political figures during his home detention in London.

        The sexual assault charges are bogus, yes.

        I agree that he and Manning should be punished for the way those documents but, more alarmingly, the names public. That IS a horrible thing to do. Assange’s ‘holier than thou journalism’ and his idea of making governments “transparent” puts others into direct danger.

      • Tiffany says:

        I agree Holl. If he really was sincere about transparency, he wouldn’t just be leaking things about the US. Iran was killing people in the streets at that time. The US is hardly perfect, but there are so so many brutal governments in power all around the world, his lack of attention to those situations makes him seem incredibly insincere. Nothing to report on North Korea, Syria, etc?

  9. olcranky says:

    I’ve been partial to Renner ever since I saw his cute little tush in 12 & holding and I could see him playing this part but, to be honest, I think I’d like to see someone like Linus Roache tackle it since he can do wonders playing kinda creepy

  10. GoodCapon says:

    I love Jeremy but I’m not feeling this potential film at all.

  11. Alexis says:

    …I get it, but he is lacking something…that strange, fucked up sexual energy Assange has. Ralph Fiennes is probably a bit too old for the part now, maybe, but I’d consider him. To me, the energy is more important, Like Michael Pit does not look like Assange, but I think he could play the part, when it comes to the vibe.

  12. ZenB!tch says:

    I’m not really looking at other men right now since like most silly girls I’m all about Christian Bale right now.

    It’s not a bad choice. Jeremy can do creepy. He was in that movie about Dahmer.

    I would love to nominate my go to creeps: Cillian Murphy and Crispin Glover but they look nothing like him.

    I just don’t like Fassbender but I am not sure I would go see a movie about Julian Assange anyway.