Jeremy Renner has received the ultimate compliment for his acting - the family of Gary Webb love his portrayal of the late journalist in new film Kill The Messenger.

The Avengers star refused to meet with Webb's widow or children prior to making the tense new drama about the investigative reporter, who exposed the Cia's role in arming Contra rebels in Nicaragua, because he didn't want his character's private life to interfere with his take on the journalist, who committed suicide in 2004.

But when he was close to wrapping the film, the family visited the set and got the chance to see an early version of the movie, and he was thrilled to learn that he had captured the essence of the man he was portraying.

Renner tells Wenn, "I didn't want to talk to (his ex-wife) Sue or the kids prior to me figuring out who Gary was because I didn't want any biased opinions coming in and I certainly didn't want to dig up any bones from the kids, who were still mourning the death of their father.

"I met them the last week of shooting... It was kind of weird because I'd been dealing with the little kid versions of Lillian and Christine (in the film) and now they're all grown up. It was a really strange experience. But since that day I've been communicating with them and with Sue.

"They've been very, very loving. It's been amazing. I know it was difficult for them to watch. They were very complimentary about the film, which to me is the highest compliment I could ever get, so it's downhill from here for me. I knew they were gonna be tough from the beginning, so for them to say the things they said about the film was a beautiful complimentary thing."