The Star Trek actor talks to James Gill about rubber bands, playing the banjo and the potential next US Prez
What has changed for Spock in Star Trek Beyond?
All of us in this movie have a very different experience than we had in the other two. We are broken apart as a crew and forced to find our way back to one another, both literally and figuratively. So I think people will be excited because there’s a lot of unexpected pairings in this film. I spend most of the movie with Karl [Urban], or ‘Bones’.
Was there a Team Trek huddle, where you said, “Bloody hell, they’ve brought back Star Wars!”
[Laughs] No. I remember reading that JJ was going to direct the Star Wars film, and I thought, “Oh, I guess that means he’s not going to be directing our movie.” That was a bummer. But then [new director] Justin [Lin] was such a joy and did such a great job. I was thrilled for JJ to be able to have that experience, and when you really sit back and look at it I couldn’t imagine anyone else that would be able to do that so beautifully.
What is it like, making a movie?
Do go on…
Yeah, dude. Making movies is f*cking boring. You sit around for 17 hours and maybe work three of those hours. It’s not glamorous at all. We make it fun because we love each other and we have a great time and we sit around and laugh and joke and stuff. But the process of making movies is technical and complicated and arduous… Does that sound horribly pretentious?
You can hear my heart break…
Look, making movies is amazing. But it’s not sexy. The sexy stuff is the stuff that goes around it.
What do you do to alleviate the boredom? Hide a mackerel in Chris Pine’s trailer?
We joke around a lot, for sure. I play the banjo, and so I bring my banjo to work and I play all the time when I’m working.
Can you give our readers tips on how to do the Vulcan salute?
A rubber band around the ring finger and the pinkie goes a long way to strengthening whatever those muscles are that you need to cultivate. I would drive round Los Angeles with my fingers rubber-banded together, and try to exercise my hands. Luckily, I got there in the end. Good luck to your readers. I wish them all the best with their Vulcan salute endeavours.
Lots of American actors perform on the stage in the UK. Would you be up for it?
Absolutely. Yes. And you can quote me on that. I just met with a British director, but about doing a play in the US, but I am totally open to the idea of coming to the UK and working there. I love it there.
Do you have any great British acting heroes?
I’ve always loved Judi Dench. Actually, when I was here for the first Star Trek movie she was doing a play, and Chris Pine and I went to see it, and she was so gracious and lovely – we went round after and said hi. Then when we came back to do the press tour on the second movie she was doing another play. So we had to go back to see her in the second play.
What did the three of you do?
We hung out in the dressing room, and she was just lovely. Then we invited her to the premiere. I think she was talking about her grandson being a fan of Trek. So through the Paramount publicity machine we extended an invitation to her, but she wasn’t able to make it. But she sent a lovely note and a bottle of champagne to us. Class act.
Can you get her in Star Trek 4?
[Laughs] We’ll see. If she’s into it we’ll definitely make room for her.
You’re one of the few Hollywood actors to come out as gay. Is it fair to say it hasn’t impacted your career?
I’m much more interested in living an authentic life and being true to who I am than anything else. So I was really motivated to honour the lives of these kids who were f*cking killing themselves, and I felt like I am in such an enviable position in so many ways, I’m so blessed, and I felt like I needed to help them magnify their voices.
Is there a role you’d love to play?
The only role I really know I want to play – maybe I’ll come back to do this on the West End – is Sweeney Todd. But that’s probably 10 years from now.
There is, however, a danger that the next time we meet, Donald Trump will be in power…
Donald Trump is a buffoon. He is a dangerously egomaniacal horrible person. It’s unsettling how unethical he is. I loathe him; I actually loathe him. But there are a lot of people in our country who are somehow blind to what, to me, seems so transparent. I guess anything’s possible, but I would certainly hope that we avoid that [Trump becoming president]. It’s an embarrassment to our country to consider how you must all look at us.
Star Trek Beyond is at cinemas nationwide from 22 July