Man on fire
Chris Pine’s career is definitely hurtling along since StarTrek.
TONY Scott and Denzel Washington have made four films together; Unstoppable marks their fifth collaboration. At this point, it is palpable that the two know exactly what they want from the other, making a pretty a good team. It was that chance to work with this seemingly indestructible duo, on top of a good script by Mark Bomback, that attracted Chris Pine to come onboard Unstoppable.
In an interview transcript provided by Twentieth Century Fox, Pine admitted he has been a fan of Scott ever since he saw Top Gun when he was seven years old, planting a desire to become a fighter pilot. Although he chose to be an actor once he grew up, Pine is absolutely enthused that he got to work with Scott.
Pine said: “He is this little bundle of awesome energy. I’ve never experienced energy like it. He would come into the makeup trailer at five in the morning and you can’t understand anything he’s saying because he’s talking so fast. He hugs you and he kisses you on the cheek. He says, ‘ Hey man, this is what we got’, while showing us the storyboards that he does every morning at 3am.
“He sleeps for about four hours, drinks six shots of espresso, does push-ups and then he does the storyboards. He’s like a captain of a football team or the General. He has such a passion for what he does and he loves making this kind of movie. And he knows how to make this kind of movie.” Unstoppable is an actionpacked feature about a massive runaway train – unmanned and carrying a toxic cargo – going headlong towards a populated town.
It is up to veteran engineer Frank Barnes (Washington) and a young conductor Will Colson (Pine) to put their differences aside and come up with a workable plan to prevent the impending disaster.
In the production notes of the film, Scott described the film as a movie that starts at 80km/h but keeps accelerating. Like Scott’s other films – think Man On Fire and The Taking Of Pelham 12-3 – Unstoppable is not merely about the runaway train, but about human relationship. In this case, specifically about Barnes resenting Colson because he’s training the guy who is going to take over his job and he will ultimately let go.
However, as the terrible day progresses, the two men – who are obviously caught in the wrong place at the wrong time – find they have more in common and the strength to deal with the problem.
Pine compared Colson’s dynamic with Barnes as similar to the theme in Training Day, a film for which Washington received an Oscar.
Pine said: “In the beginning they’re at loggerheads and really go toe-to-toe. It’s really two men from different generations and different perspectives and different worldviews.
“There’s an inherent tension in that it’s the young guy who has no experience but is going to take the job, and the experienced guy who’s on his way out.
“In one of the first meetings we had, we talked about how it’s like two bulls banging heads.”
Nonetheless, things couldn’t be more different when it comes to the two actors. For one, it was Washington who suggested Pine for the role of Colson to Scott. And upon working together, the two obviously have deep admiration for the other.
Pine’s career has been on an upward trajectory ever since director J.J. Abrams cast the 30-year-old as Captain Kirk in the reimagining of Star Trek last year.
Prior to Star Trek, he has been building quite a resume with good work on Smokin’ Aces and Carriers. But he was perhaps more popular for his work in teen romantic comedies such as Princess Diaries 2 and Just My Luck.
“Quite honestly, I got into acting because I wanted to play Gary Oldman-roles. I wanted to be weird and offbeat. I wanted to put makeup on and be a hunchback. It so happens that I got a romantic comedy and that snowballed.
“It was never anything I expected. Now what I’m getting is action movies, and I’ve decided to ride this wave for as long as it takes me before jumping onto another one.”
While Pine doesn’t know what genre may come up next, he believes an actor is only as good as the people he works with.
“Did I see a train movie in my future after Star Trek? Not a chance. I wanted to do a Merchant Ivory movie and wear a wig and a codpiece and have an accent, but this was an opportunity to work with Tony Scott and Denzel Washington.
“I could not turn it down. It was like graduate school. I was a sponge every day, just soaking up energy and experience. They’re masters of what they do. I mean, it’s Denzel Washington for Christsake!”
Wanting to make sure that he arrived fully prepared for the role, Pine did his research by talking to the people who work in the train industry, hanging out at the train yard – picking up the way they talk and work – and getting into shape.
“I tried to put on some weight just because I knew I was going up against Denzel; he’s built like a brick house and I didn’t want to look like the gangly, skinny kid next to him. Denzel, of course, is working out every morning at 5am, and I’m having a glass or two of red wine at night.
“But I’m really into plyometric exercises right now, which is basically dynamic, movement-oriented weight training. I do that and boxing, basketball and swimming.”
Getting into shape turned out to be quite crucial as Scott decided to use very little CGI
Weird and offbeat: ‘Quite honestly, I got into acting because I wanted to play Gary Oldmanroles,’ says Chris Pine.