Modesto actor returns to hometown to screen acclaimed film

Jeremy Renner came to Modesto on Friday evening to sign autographs and present his critically acclaimed film "The Hurt Locker" to a hometown crowd.

The Beyer High School graduate was joined by fellow "Hurt Locker" actor Brian Geraghty before the 7:30 p.m. show at Brenden Theatres. The two were met by a long line of eager fans.

Renner is the star of the intense portrayal of an Army bomb squad in the Iraq war. The film and the Modesto-bred actor are receiving nearly across-the-board critical praise.

The movie played silently on a large screen above the concession area as Renner and Geraghty -- with an assist from Renner's sister Nicky Emens -- signed posters. Renner even signed DVD liners from some of his past films. Smiling and genial, Renner stopped several times to pose with fans for pictures.

But the line proved so long that many didn't get autographs. The actors had to stop to introduce the film to the soldout crowd inside the screening room.

Gaylene Ramos of Turlock was in the autograph line with her son, Phillip Ramos, who just returned from Iraq. Phillip Ramos said he served in the field artillery and military police.

"He's going to critique the movie," Gaylene Ramos said.

Several of those milling the lobby were part of a contingent of family and friends, including Wanda Bonnell who works with Renner's father, Lee Renner, at California State University, Stanislaus.

"He really is the nicest guy," the Turlock resident said of the 38-year-old actor. "He doesn't have any arrogant air about him."

Bonnell not only was among those to get an autograph, she also got a big smile and hug from the actor.

After the screening, CSU, Stanislaus, theater Professor John Mayer lead an audience Q&A with Renner and Geraghty. But Renner didn't watch the film. The actors planned to grab a bite with Renner's family at a downtown restaurant while the film screened.

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