This summer, Star Trek Into Darkness busted more than a few blocks. A fair amount of the credit for this falls on Chris Pine’s shoulders – handed the seemingly poisoned chalice of taking over Captain Kirk’s chair, he proved the doubters wrong and emerged at the head of one of the most popular franchises going. ShortList sat down with him to find out how he did it.
Kirk and Spock’s cinema bromance has become one of the greats of recent years – are you and Zachary Quinto (who plays Spock) equally close in real life?
Yeah, Zach and I get along really well in real life, thank God, because this would be a nightmare otherwise.
Does your real-life relationship mirror your on-screen one?
Not really. In the story, it is fire and ice – the great thing is that they’re both black and white; they both see it as being their way or the highway. These people find they need the balance between mind and body more than they need two different ways of looking at things. Their journey is much like the journey of every person. We’re way more in the grey, Zach and I.
How was working with Benedict Cumberbatch? He’s popular here in the UK…
“Benedict Cumberbatch”? Never heard of him. What the hell is Sherlock?
Did shooting Star Trek Into Darkness feel like a big step up in terms of scale?
A huge step up in terms of the epicness of the movie – not just as you see it, but [in terms of] stages and set pieces. It was a massive production – you felt the scale of it while you were doing it, but there’s no way to predict the scale of JJ [Abrams]’s imagination, or the contributions of the visual effects team. I can’t think of a movie that paints space or the future with a more beautiful palette than this one.
Did you feel more pressure from the Star Trek fan community this time?
We always knew there would be people who’d think we couldn’t live up to what Leonard Nimoy and Bill Shatner had done, but there would be a lot of people who would enjoy what we did. It’s not something we can control. But it released us from feeling any kind of anxiety about it, because it was such a steep hill to climb. JJ’s mandate from the beginning for this whole reimagining was that it was our job to infuse these characters with new life and qualities that we, as actors, naturally bring to bear, so that was really freeing.
Have you seen Shatner recently?
Bill is always doing something. He’s a very active person, even at 82. He wanted to do a documentary about all the people who’ve played a captain in the Star Trek franchise. He interviewed me, and was really nice, very inquisitive and had great questions. I am proud to be part of that distinguished group of actors. Bill had these notes written on napkins about what he wanted to do [for the documentary], and one of them was that he wanted to arm wrestle me. It’s very difficult to turn down Bill Shatner when he’s right there, so I ended up arm wrestling him.
Did you win?
Man, I threw it.
Is it true that you lived in Leeds?
I loved it in Leeds – I was studying there. Loved the people. Loved the school. Had a great time. Miss it. Haven’t been back. Just a great time.
For somebody from California, what was the biggest difference to home?
It was cold. I grew up in sunshine, and you take the train and it’s like a vision of Trainspotting before your eyes. It was hard to get used to the grey and the brick and all that. The northerners who grew up in that climate have this really beautiful seize-the-day lust for life. I really enjoyed that.
You come from a family of actors – how did they feel about you joining the family business?
I went off to join the circus, and they were like: “Welcome to the circus.” I grew up in a family that really liked the arts, actors and directors and producers and filmmakers. My experience is so different from the norm that way. I remember when I told them I wanted to do it, it was only a momentary pause and “Are you sure?”, then they kind of welcomed me into the club with open arms.
JJ Abrams is making the new Star Wars. Has he offered you a role in that franchise as well?
Sure. I’ll be playing the Millennium Falcon.
Star Trek Into Darkness is out on Blu-ray and DVD now
(Image: Rex/Action Press; Paramount)