Modesto native Jeremy Renner edged closer to a possible Oscar nomination as he took home one of the first honors of the award season.
The 38-year-old Beyer High School graduate was named Breakthrough Actor on Monday night at the Hollywood Awards ceremony in Beverly Hills.
Renner was honored for his critically acclaimed work as star of the war drama "The Hurt Locker," in which he plays the lead bomb technician on an ordnance disposal squad.
Renner's co-star in "North Country" Charlize Theron dropped by to present the award.
"You know, he's been great in everything," Theron said of Renner. "But he really shines in this film. This is really his moment."
In his acceptance, Renner said his honor went to "the families of our fallen troops."
Afterward, he told The Bee he was humbled by Oscar winner and friend Theron's compliments.
"She crushed it, I was blown away," he said. "My parents couldn't say nicer things about me. She has been such a good friend over the years. I feel the same for her."
The award is the first of what could be many wins for Renner, who frequently returns home to Modesto to visit his family.
The Hollywood Awards have a certain cachet because the judges and advisers include film critics, film industry executives and film festival chiefs from all over the world, making for an enigmatic voting group. The festival is 13 years old, but only in the past few years has the gala emerged as one of the award season's closely watched early events.
Renner said he is aware of the Oscar buzz around his performance.
"I try not to pay too much attention to it," he said. "That's so far away and so far ahead. As we get into award season, I am doing one interview at a time and trying to enjoy it as it goes along."
He said one of the unexpected perks of the glamorous events is the free clothes offered to nominees and winners.
"They throw clothes at you, so I get some cool clothes out of the deal," he said. "But award season is a full-time job; it becomes work trying to navigate through all those things when your every word is magnified. I'm learning as I go and trying to be as honest as I possibly can and genuine as I possibly can be."
Filming in Boston
Renner is in the middle of filming the crime thriller "The Town" in Boston with Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm and Blake Lively. The movie should wrap by Thanksgiving, and then he said he will take time off during the holidays.
The actor is no stranger to award ceremonies. He's been nominated for Independent Spirit Awards twice, once for his role as Jeffrey Dahmer in the 2002 film "Dahmer" and earlier this year for his role in "The Hurt Locker."
The nomination adds to a small list of industry nods given to Modesto natives.
The most widely acclaimed Modestan is Downey High School graduate George Lucas, who has received numerous honors for directing, producing and writing achievements for his many films. The most notable are Oscar nominations for best director and best writer in 1973 for "American Graffiti" and again in 1977 for the original "Star Wars."
Modestan Mike Glad was nominated for an Oscar with co-writer and producer Leslie Iwerks in 2007 for their documentary "A Recycled Life."
The late Harve Presnell received the most promising newcomer award in 1965 from the Golden Globes.
Beyer High graduate Timothy Olyphant was part of an ensemble cast nomination in 2007 for a Screen Actors Guild award for the HBO TV series "Deadwood."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.