Having a Pine time
AS a kid growing up on the edges of Hollywood, Chris Pine’s favourite action movie hero was Harrison Ford. “Without doubt,” says Pine, 33. Yet Pine, who found his way into acting at university, wasn’t looking to follow in Ford’s save- the- day footsteps. In fact, now that he’s playing the titular hero in Jack Ryan: Shadow
Recruit – the same Tom Clancy character Ford had such success with in the 1990s with
Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger – Pine seems rather sad he’s not going to be playing those mysterious/ oddball/ funny- looking characters a few rungs down on the credits list.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been a ‘ character actor’ unfortunately,” Pine says.
“My heart’s probably there, but that’s not been the case for me.”
Indeed, after supporting roles in the likes of The Princess Diaries and Just My Luck, Pine’s career trajectory went straight to leading man after he scored the role of Captain Kirk in J. J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek reboot.
The team looking to similarly reinvigorate the Jack Ryan franchise ( the character has also been played by Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for
Red October and Ben Affleck in The Sum of All Fears) signed Pine up that same year. In the time that followed, several versions of a script came and went, as did a director. Pine played Kirk a second time, in Star Trek Into
Darkness, before Ryan became a reality. Pine says he was always sure the film would happen – “it just took forever”.
When he finally stepped on set in late 2012, Pine was faced with his Ford moment: how to embody the everyman hero.
“The challenge is to take yourself out of it enough to let the story do the talking, to let the other characters shine,” Pine says.
Pine worked with Baldwin on the animated movie Rise of the Guardians, but he didn’t seek advice on how to approach Ryan.
“The only way to do it is to do it your own way. That’s what people respond to. The moment you start trying to copy or trying to model yourself off another actor, you’re dead in the water.”
The first Jack Ryan story not to be based on a Clancy novel, Shadow Recruit is directed by ( and co- stars) Kenneth Branagh. It takes us back to Ryan’s beginnings: inspired by 9/ 11 to serve his country, he is then recruited by the CIA to go undercover on Wall Street.
Yes, it has action: “There was a lot of running,” Pine laughs. “Running after Keira Knightley. Where did Keira go?”
There was also some serious motor-biking on the streets of New York: “I was going fast in and out of traffic – one of the great thrills of my life.”
And there was a snap: “I broke a finger doing that fight scene with the large gentleman in the bathroom … It was an intense scene, but it ended up looking pretty cool.”
Yet Pine’s Jack Ryan is more of a thinker – he needs to be to figure out the complex financial trail that leads him to a terrorist plot in Russia.
“I am definitely no brainiac, so I was acting up a storm,” Pine says.
Pine is a little wary of that word most associated with Clancy’s hero: patriot.
“I didn’t really have a desire to make a film about a flag- waving American hero. I wanted to make a film about an intelligent guy who is compelled to serve because he feels within himself this need to protect what is right and to prevent what is wrong. That was way more compelling than any kind of classic from- the-box American hero.
“That’s probably at odds with the genetics of the character and what Tom Clancy wanted … but I felt in 2014 that it was the right thing to do. I went about my business portraying this man who didn’t do anything for any particular ideology, for any piece of paper or what he was told by his superiors; he was following his own sense of what was right.”
Pine is also thinking outside the box of the traditional action hero role: “I usually seem to be excited by things that are different from these action films.”
He points to Hugh Jackman as an example that one can be a leading man and eat his character cake too.
“He is one of my idols,” Pine says of the Aussie. “No one does it better than him in the fact that he’s a full entertainer.”
Pine’s made a start on that Jackman- like diversity with his two most recent shoots – comedy in the Horrible Bosses sequel, and singing in the musical Into the Woods.
The former, he says, has proven difficult. “I find you have to be extremely loose.”
As for the singing, how does he rate himself on a scale of Frank Sinatra to an injured cat?
“I’m far away from Sinatra. But I’m certainly trying to get there.”
JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT Now showing at Village cinemas