In our own conversation, Renner remarked more than once that going straight from “Hawkeye” (which filmed in New York and Atlanta) to “Mayor of Kingstown” (which was shot in Toronto and in Kingston, Ontario) had been grueling, and that he might not have taken on the workload if he hadn’t been able to bring his 8-year-old daughter, Ava, to these locations. (Renner shares custody of Ava with his ex-wife, the model and actress Sonni Pacheco, with whom he has exchanged some contentious legal filings over the years.)
In 2017, Renner starred in “Wind River,” a thriller in the mode of a modern-day Western. The film was written and directed by Sheridan, the actor-turned-screenwriter (“Sicario,” “Hell or High Water”), and during its production he and Renner bonded over shared sensibilities. When Paramount enlisted Sheridan to produce more content for the studio’s streaming service, he pursued Renner to star in “Mayor of Kingstown.” (Sheridan created that series with Hugh Dillon, one of its co-stars.)
“At the end of the day, I make highfalutin action films,” Sheridan said. “I make ‘Road House’ with a message. I need someone that has the physicality and the intensity, but also the vulnerability.”
Sheridan added, “My characters begin broken and then heal, and there’s an innate sadness that he can give them.”
In “Mayor of Kingstown,” Renner’s character, McLusky, works with his brother Mitch (Kyle Chandler) as a go-between for prison workers, inmates and their families, which gives him unique inroads to the city’s intertwined power systems. “In order to truly advocate for them, you’ve got to have relationships with the people who control them,” Sheridan explained. “You’ve got to have relationships with the mobsters, with the judges, with the police.”
Renner said he had been drawn to the show for its commentary on the American penal system and the for-profit incarceration industry. He said he also appreciated the opportunity to play a character like McLusky, who may seem to have a measure of control over Kingstown but is at the mercy of forces larger than himself.