STAR TREK EXCLUSIVE Interview With Chris Pine
American audiences will get to see Star Trek Into Darkness next week, and we've scored an exclusive interview with Chris Pine who discusses the role of Captain Kirk, the impact the first film had on his life and what audiences can expect in the new film.
Interview conducted by and copyright Edward Gross
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: Has this four year gap between films felt that long to you?
CHRIS PINE: It HAS felt like a long time. But it was fun getting back into it – it was pretty easy to fall back into the relationships, and all the bonds that we built in the first one were there.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: This is the first time you’ve reprised a role. Is that strange at all?
CHRIS PINE: It’s actually very strange. You want to make sure there’s a continuity between the character that you established and trying to remember little things, so that I don’t go off in a completely different direction. You don’t have the blank slate like you did in the first one.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: That’s the other question – the blank slate – in the first movie there were no expectations, and with this movie it seems like there are SO MANY expectations. Did you feel that at all?
CHRIS PINE: Yes, I would agree. I think the first one was a great position to be in, because no one was expecting much of anything, so you could either live up to people’s low expectations or beat them by a mile. I hope we did the latter, and so yes, for the second one there is the sophomore effort, we’re not making an album but we’re making a film, and you want to be sure it’s as good and lives up to people’s expectations, which are a bit higher than the last time.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: One of the things John Cho said, once he stood on the bridge of the Enterprise it was like a time warp and as though you never stopped filming.
CHRIS PINE: I would agree with him. We all have a good time together and we spend time together off set, and we’ve maintained those relationships, so it’s fun to go back onto a familiar set with people you like, and who you’ve built friendships with over the past four years. So it is strangely normal.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: What are the similarities and differences between this Kirk and the one we met in the first film?
CHRIS PINE: Kirk in the second one has to deal with humility. If the first film was Kirk getting the chair rather quickly due to this unforeseen series of events, the second is about him really earning the chair, and understanding what it means to be the captain of a starship, and the captain of many, many people who depend on his decisions for either survival or not. So it’s a growing process, and I think he’s getting older and he comes face to face with his insecurities about his capabilities as a leader, himself as a person, why he’s doing what he’s doing, why is he captain of the starship, why is he leading people? What it all means. I think you find Kirk very early in the second film in a major, major existential crises.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: Which is great, because you want a character like this not to just be the gung-ho hero.
CHRIS PINE: It makes it more interesting for me as an actor, and hopefully for the audience. It gives them, between the first and the second film, and hopefully what ever happens in the third, a sense of progression and change, and arc and a character that’s really growing with this audience.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: In your mind what is the ultimate power of the story of this movie?
CHRIS PINE: It’s a hard question, and my answer is unfortunately going to sound very vague, but the stakes are incredibly, incredibly high. I think JJ, Damon, and Alex and Bob understand that these tentpole films are the biggest of the year and they deal with archetypal huge things about growing up, life and death. So from the beginning of the film to the last moment, the characters go on an extraordinary journey. There’s been much talk about the darkness of it, which is there, but the levity from the first one is certainly there. I would say, the scope in terms of the visuals and the action beats and the character journeys are much, much bigger than the first film. Much bigger.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: We talk about the darkness, but at its core does Star Trek's innate sense of hope pervail?
CHRIS PINE: Always, absolutely. At the end of the day, the bridge itself is the beacon of hope, it’s this family coming together facing almost insurmountable odds, and being able to overcome. People from these disparate backgrounds, and a woman of color and all these things that made it very new and novel in the late 60s, in many ways it remains true now. Maybe not as novel or new, but it is a family, a unit, made up of many different parts, people, backgrounds, age, sex, color, gender - all of that coming together to beat these odds. It’s not Batman, it’s not the Lone Wolf, it’s not the anti-hero. These are good people with good intentions, who are struggling to be better.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: On the original series, the longer Shatner played Kirk, the more he bled into the role. Do you think there are elements of yourself bleeding into your interpretation?
CHRIS PINE: I don’t know if I’m self-aware enough quite yet to be able to discern anything in particular that they’ve picked up from what I do. I don’t think the audience knows me well enough to appreciate it, even if that were the case. But I would say that there are plenty of similarities between Kirk’s journey in this and stuff that I’ve gone through for me to find plenty of truth in it. So in terms of bleeding one into the other, they’re very blurred.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: Working with JJ, has there been an evolution in him as a director between films?
CHRIS PINE: That’s a good question. Probably just a sense of comfort, which is not to say with the first one he wasn’t comfortable, because he was. I have a tremendous amount of respect for anyone who can come in to direct something of this size, and to have to multi-task and coordinate all these different cogs in this machine, and make it work and make it look effortless. But I remember this one sequence – it’s a huge action sequence, probably five or so minutes of film, which as you know takes like three weeks to shoot. Instead of coming in with a detailed shot list, he really wanted to be in the space, and the space wasn’t finally completed until the day before we shot it. He walked into the space and we rehearsed, and he kind of took a little tour around the set by himself, he asked the first AD to give him a couple of minutes, you could see him walking around figuring out his shots, and within 15 minutes he’d figured out what he wanted to shoot for the next three weeks. We thought that was kind of extraordinary – a set, and a sequence that would have made any other director cower in fear, he took it head on because he wanted to have it ready for the day, and he faced it, alive and in the moment, in the space. I like that about JJ—he’s very of the moment.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: You were all newbies on the first movie coming together, so what was it like welcoming Benedict Cumberbatch and Alice Eve into the fold and what do they contribute to the film in your estimation?
CHRIS PINE: They blended in really easily and I think because it was our second time, it was the sophomore effort and there was a different energy behind it, but it’s not like we were all settled into our positions. It wasn’t seniors hating the freshman, it was very warm and Benedict is an incredible actor and he has a great command of his voice and his body, and he brings all of that training and detail to this part. And he’s incredibly menacing. Alice has a really interesting part in this film, one I can’t really speak to – I think she brings a certain level of intrigue to the film, and certainly for Kirk, when there’s a beautiful blonde woman around there’s always the potential for love, and we know the story there.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: In the first movie you gave us little moments of Shat. Do you still play with that in this movie?
CHRIS PINE: I had a lot of fun with JJ figuring out the right times for me to dip my toe in those waters, and I think we do it in this one, although in this one there is so much going on in this film I don't know if people will pick up on it. I hope they do, but this thing moves like a freight train – I can’t really put too fine a point on it. It’s massive, it’s relentless, and just when you think you’ve seen the last sequence, there’s another sequence to top that. They really went for broke on this one.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: On a personal and professional level, what impact has Star Trek had on you?
CHRIS PINE: Well, it’s given me a lot more opportunities for the business I’m in, for different parts, different scripts, and people knowing who I am is a huge bonus. It puts you in the spotlight very fast, and I think anybody, no matter what they do, enjoys a challenge, and I was terrified by the prospect of doing this, and being terrified knew that that’s what I need to be doing. I need to take this head on, because there's no fun doing something you think is easy. Personally, your anonymity gets chipped away and people start coming up to you a bit more often, and want their pictures taken, and autographs, and paparazzi here and there, but for the most part I’ve been really lucky in that regard – I mean, it’s been a pretty smooth ride. I think it took a while to get used to the whole world of A) you’re making a big, huge movie and B) it’s Star Trek and that comes with its own huge responsibility with the fan base and the community. But it’s been a good run – I’ve been happy to be able to share this experience with a lot of people; I have a whole crew of people to talk to about it, and it’s a good support group.
Check out a pair of ebooks written by Edward Gross. The first is "Voices From Krypton: Superman - Birthright Turns 10," a 20,000+ running Q&A with writer Mark Waid about the story that partially inspired Man of Steel. Then there's Spider-Man: From Cannon to Cameron, a behind the scenes guide to a number of aborted attempts to bring Spidey to the big screen.
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