Jeremy Renner on His House-Flipping Sideline: ‘It Keeps Me Grounded’

Oscar-nominated actor says buying, restoring and reselling houses kept him afloat when acting jobs weren’t coming

Jeremy Renner's other  job has gotten a lot of attention in the last few days.

A Yahoo! Movies headline on Sunday called it "Jeremy Renner's Secret Side Gig," and detailed some of the history of buying, restoring and reselling houses that Renner has undertaken with his friend and business partner, actor Kristoffer Winters.

Jeremy RennerThe story talked about several of their jobs, from a Nichols Canyon home in 2002 to a Hollywood residence that they resold for nearly $1 million more than they paid for it, and said the men are currently working on "a nearly 6,000-square-foot house in Hollywood."

As to whether they'll continue to do the work now that his career is busier, Marissa Gluck wrote, "Neither [Renner] nor Winters would comment."

But Renner has talked quite a bit with TheWrap about his house-flipping work over the past year and a half, so we can add to the story of two-time Oscar nominee who, until he recently, landed high-profile gigs like "The Town," "Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol" and "The Avengers."

He admits he was making more money flipping houses than he was acting.

Preston Sturges house afterThe Hollywood house that Renner and Winters renovated most recently, for instance, was a project of his all through last year's awards season, when he was nominated for Best Actor for "The Hurt Locker."

The home (right) once belonged to noted director Preston Sturges, who moved it to its current location when construction of the Hollywood Freeway turned its former location into an underpass.

Preston Sturges house beforeHope Anderson's Under the Hollywood Sign blog has the history of the house, and a photo of its former condition, before Renner and Winters began work. (Photo courtesy of Hope Anderson)

For now, the Sturges house appears to be the last of Renner's renovation jobs, at least for the time being.

When TheWrap asked if he was planning to do more jobs late last year, Renner was succinct: "No, I do not have time. No time for that … I don't know if I'm gonna be doing that again anytime soon."

But he was enthusiastic about the process, in which he said he focuses more on exterior architectural design, and Winters more on interior design.

He said the two serve as contractors, architects and interior designers, using subcontractors but making sure one of them is on site every day.

"It’s a lot of fun," Renner said when we spoke to him over lunch one day last year, when "Hurt Locker" was knee deep in the awards season. "I dig it, it keeps me grounded.

"You run into the Beverly Hilton to do 'Extra,' and then you have a meeting here, and then you go to a red carpet … And between all these things, I’m going to pick out tile. I go back to this dirty job site in a suit, so that I can tell the electrician where to put light switches. It's just a little moment of reality."

He'd wanted to do it for years, he said, but didn't have enough money until 2002 — when, with only $200 in the bank, he used his contract for the big-budget action film "S.W.A.T." to help secure a loan for his first house.

"It just kept growing and growing," he said in late 2009. "And now, 12 houses later, I make more money doing that than I do as an actor."

Obviously, Renner has since seen his acting price tag soar — but he looks back fondly on the enormous contrast between the job for which he's best known and the one that kept him afloat.

"There were all of these humbling experiences," he said, "because we couldn’t afford to pay rent somewhere else, all our money was sunk into this big house that might have no plumbing while we were working on it. So we're running over to Starbucks to brush our teeth and use the restroom, or going to shower at the gym.

"And then I'd fly off to France for some movie premiere. My life was a little surreal. On paper you think, great, he's an up-and-coming actor, flying all over the world and working everywhere." He laughed. "And brushing his teeth at Starbucks."