Pine shooting for the stars
Director J. J. Abrams is unrestrained in his praise for action star Chris Pine, as Vicky Roach discovers
CHRIS Pine, one of the chosen few being groomed to carry the next generation of Hollywood action blockbusters, has a secret weapon in his acting arsenal, according to Star Trek Into Darkness director J. J. Abrams.
“One of the most valuable things about Chris is that he doesn’t have an ounce of self- awareness,” says the creator of such pop- culture phenomena as Alias and Lost.
“Meaning that he is never afraid of being made to look like a fool, he is never afraid of being vulnerable, he is never afraid of being uncool – and that makes him incredibly cool.”
Pine’s willingness to reveal his emotions on screen stands in marked contrast to macho characters such as Bruce Willis’ wisecracking John McClane or Sylvester Stallone’s invincible mercenary Barney Ross, both of whom have been recently revived for another tilt at the box office.
“He is willing to be terrified. In fact, he is willing to be ineffectual, or reactive or heartbroken,” Abrams said. And he should know. In the sequel to his successful 2009 Star Trek reboot, the director asks Pine’s initially cocky Captain Kirk to bare his soul.
Even among contemporaries such as Aussies Chris Hemsworth and Jai Courtney, the 32- year- old actor’s performance stands out.
I feel very lucky that I am surrounded by good people and I just try to hold my end of the bargain, to share that
“Those are the things that allow [ the audience] to go ‘ Oh, he’s like me’ – as opposed to this impervious hero who a lot of actors his age like to play; people who are more heroic than they are human,” Abrams said.
When Star Trek Into Darkness begins, Kirk is stripped of his Enterprise captaincy after openly flouting a flotilla of Starfleet laws during a daring and spectacular rescue mission on a primitive outer planet.
The premise for the hotly anticipated sequel is that the young Kirk has been given the chair prematurely. And now the time has come for him to earn it.
Pine bristles at the suggestion Kirk’s journey might have certain parallels with his own career.
“In my business, there is no ‘ deserve’,” he said. “You get a shot, you don’t get a shot.”
But he acknowledges the sequel provided him with much more of an acting challenge.
“In the first film, it was like painting in primary colours,” Pine said.
“In the second, they pull the rug from underneath Kirk and all of a sudden he is this vulnerable, fragile young man who wants to be a good leader but he doesn’t know if he can be that guy or ever was.
“It’s really scary for a man who thinks he knows what he’s all about, who has built up this exterior over time to hide his vulnerabilities – it’s pretty harsh when it all comes tumbling down and he is naked before life.”
After the success of Star Trek – which took $ 385 million at the box office – Pine admits to feeling a fair degree of pressure coming into the sequel.
“With the first, it was a little bit easier in the sense that there wasn’t much expectation for it. So we were the underdogs. Whereas with this, we’d done well and we wanted to do well again, so there was a bit of that at play.
“But J. J., being the true captain of the Enterprise, is a great leader of men. He did a great job of creating a comfortable atmosphere in which to do our work. By concentrating on the scene at hand, you don’t worry about all that extraneous stuff you can’t control.”
Pine says it helps that in a franchise like this one he gets to share the load.
“Our film is unique in this genre – these kind of epic science fiction action thrillers – in that it’s not Batman, it’s not one guy in a cape, it’s not Green Lantern, it’s not Superman, this is a real team of people trying to face these obstacles.
“I feel very lucky that I am surrounded by good people and I just try to hold my end of the bargain, to share that responsibility.”
Abrams also believes the ensemble nature of Star Trek is a major factor in its success.
“I feel no fatherly obligation to talk about all my kids, but I would just say that Zach ( Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock) is really to be commended for taking a character that is essentially emotion- free and becoming such a complicated wondrous bad- arse, which he does.
“And Benedict Cumberbatch ( of TV’s Sherlock), I don’t even know how to start talking about him. He just blows my mind. He is off the charts in everything he does.”
Star Trek Into Darkness opens on Thursday.
OUT OF THIS WORLD: Alice Eve and Chris Pine in