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Star Trek – Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto interview

Star Trek

Interview by Rob Carnevale

CHRIS Pine and Zachary Quinto – aka the new Captain Kirk and Spock – talk about the appeal of the new Star Trek movie for fans and non-fans alike, and tackling such iconic characters.

Pine reveals why he chose not to copy William Shatner, while Quinto talks about working directly with Leonard Nimoy for Spock and why he’s not afraid of being typecast.

Q. Do you need to be a Star Trek fan to enjoy the movie? 
Chris Pine: I don’t think you need to be a Star Trek fan to enjoy the movie. I think what appealed to me in the beginning was the fact that when I spoke to JJ, we came from a similar place where we weren’t initially fans of the series. I think this speaks to the genius of the man right here [indicating Abrams] is that he knows how to combine the big, spectacular effects and wonderful imagery with something small, which is I think the great character drama in this film that we made. So whether you’re a fan of small movies or big movies I think you’ll find something in this that is appealing.

Q. Zachary, did you actually lobby for the role? Are there pros and cons for taking such an iconic role in a similar genre to the one you’ve already had your television break in? 
Zachary Quinto: First of all. It was a sort of unintentional campaign that I ended up involved in. I was doing press for Heroes just as JJ was about the make the movie and a journalist from my hometown newspaper asked me if there was any other project I’d be interested in. I mentioned how much I would enjoy playing Spock in this new direction of the franchise. But then the article got syndicated and subsequently other journalists who were interviewing me about Heroes were asking about Star Trek. So, it was something that happened very unintentionally, but also sort of organically in that regard. What was the second part of the question?

Q. Are there pros and cons for taking such an iconic role in a similar genre to the one you’ve already had your television break in?
Zachary Quinto: Right, well I think we exist now in a different time than the one in which the original series was created. I think that there’s less of a stigma attached to science fiction now than there was 40 years ago, and I also think people’s attention span has diminished greatly in that amount of time. So, the notion of an actor inextricably associated with a character that they play now seems to be a little bit less of a phenomenon than maybe when Leonard [Nimoy] and Mr Shatner took these roles and created them. And I also feel like it’s incumbent upon me to make sure that I have the kind of career that I want. And the kind of career that I want is one of longevity and diversity, so now I begin that part of the journey and hopefully this is a platform to let me do that. The Heroes nature of science fiction, and then Star Trek is kind of an organic progression for me as well. I’m just glad to be a part of something that I’m genuinely excited about and still really proud to be a part of.

Q. Chris, did you study William Shatner for your performance? And are you braced for all the attention you’re going to get from a star-making role such as this?
Chris Pine: Having not been a fan I was aware of the series but definitely hadn’t watched it. I had only seen a few of the old episodes, so going back, JJ’s team had all the re-mastered original versions of the series, so I went home and started with due diligence watching them – but I found sort of midway through the first season that as much as it was a positive adventure searching through that world and seeing the dynamics between the characters and the aesthetic of the TV show, I really found myself paying more attention to how could I perfect the ideal of William Shatner as James T Kirk. Doing an impression was not the mandate that JJ had set forth at the beginning of that process. It really was to pay homage to what was done before so you could have a sense of continuity between Mr Shatner and myself but it really was time to breathe new life into these characters and to give it a new fresh effort. So I sort of abandoned that effort when I felt that I had gotten enough of the series and the world and the spirit in me to be able to vary it. Then it was just a matter of a conversation between JJ and I about what nuances I could pick from Mr Shatner’s performance that I could use to pepper my own.

Q. And the media attention?
Chris Pine: In terms of the media attention, I certainly hope this movie is a success obviously. So, again like Zac I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this new incarnation of the story and sitting up here with all these wonderful people that I love so much. But I can’t predict the future so we’ll see what happens and I’ll hope for the best.

Q. With all of the memorable performances given by Kirk and Spock and the rest of the crew, how do you approach the role of Spock- as a re-invention, an homage, or a parody?
Zachary Quinto: Well, I had the great advantage of working closely with Leonard [Nimoy] during this process. From the very beginning he was so available to me and very supportive and welcoming. He gave me such creative freedom, really. I didn’t feel any sense of expectation or pressure from him. And that was enormously helpful as a resource. Also, to just have a personal experience of the impact this character had on his life, and the impact his life had on this character. So, I feel like all of us were given the mandate to really use what came before us as a point of entry for our own interpretations of these characters and our own relationships to them in the world that this film puts them in. So, for me it was just about self-discovery. And I think I can speak for everyone up here when I say that that was an incredibly rewarding way to work and we have JJ to thank for that and certainly each other to rely on through it.

Q. You were the only one to have the original character you play on the set, in the form of Leonard Nimoy. Did that bring any extra pressure on you as an actor? Did you ever feel like asking him not to watch?
Zachary Quinto: No, no, no. In fact it was the opposite of that. I felt like he was reassuring to me and it actually removed any sense of pressure and anxiety that I might have had otherwise to have him available and involved and clearly supportive and excited. It was a very profound experience for me because I don’t think Leonard every expected to play this character again. It had been 19 years since he’d donned the ears last time, and I think for him this was a real opportunity not only for him to play the character again, but to be integrally involved in the passage of the mantle. That for me was an incredible honour and certainly one that I will cherish for years to come.

Q. In your opinion, how do you see Star Trek going forward and if this film is a success, do you see yourselves still being a part of it?
Chris Pine: Well, it’s a difficult question. They’ve completely opened the door for a myriad of possibilities with the trick that they’ve played in our version. God knows, there are plenty of places for it to go. I love the character so much that I would love to be a part of any future incarnations of the story, although right now we’re here to promote this one and I think it’s presumptuous to talk about future ones. Hopefully, it’s appealing enough that we’ll find room for more stories.

Read our review of Star Trek

Read our interview with Simon Pegg