As Star Trek Beyond comes to DVD and Blu-ray, lead actor Chris Pine gives us the lowdown on working with Simon Pegg, why he loves Ol’ Blue Eyes and what it’s like sitting in the big chair on the Starship Enterprise as Captain Kirk.
Where does Star Trek Beyond find Captain Kirk?
“Kirk was driven by the anger of not knowing his father, yet living in his shadow. Now ten years have gone by and he’s made his mark but a great evil has been perpetrated and he’s trying to get the family, his crew, back together. I’m not by nature a fanboy, but I do think what Star Trek has done is incredible. Back in 1966 to have the bridge of the Enterprise filled with a Russian, an Asian, a white guy, an African American woman and an alien was pretty ahead of its time.”
What are the big challenges for Kirk in the third film?
“There are trust issues… It’s 50 years on, so this film tackles the big questions of the Star Trek series… This Federation – does it serve everybody, is it a good thing? Why does it exist and to what end? I think ultimately it’s about family. Kirk doesn’t know whether he wants to do this anymore but then he realises that actually he does, because he really loves everybody. If you talk to a marine and ask them why they’re fighting for democracy they’ll say, ‘Fuck democracy! I’m fighting for Bob and Al, the guys that are next to me. I’m fighting for my friends. My world is only that big.’ And that’s what Kirk finds in Beyond.”
What do you love most about playing Captain Kirk?
“I like that he can be a buffoon. He’s one of those guys that thinks they know it all, is kinda badass and then he lets it slip. It’s why I always thought Harrison Ford was so great – he’s such a badass but doesn’t mind being made a fool of. Kirk is very fallible. He has no superpowers. He can be a dick and a really nice guy. It’s always a lot of fun. Even though I’ve never been a huge fan of sitting in the chair and playing make-believe, on that scale with all that money behind it’s like taking a trip on some really good stuff. It’s crazy!”
Has it got easier becoming Kirk across three films?
“You get to know your character inside out. It’s an ensemble so you’re only as good as the people around you. We’ve had a lot of fun, especially with Simon writing it. With JJ Abrams gone it’s like the parents have left the mansion and the kids have taken over and thrown a party. It was very collaborative and we all felt a lot more ownership of the story and our characters.”
Is Simon Pegg’s script packed with gags?
“The great advantage is that he’s worked with us on the ground, he’s not just writing from some box in the sky. And he’s funny. When we hit the tonal marks it’s not the super broad Marvel comedy with its very self-referential post-meta comedy! Star Trek is ’80s pop fun. You go in. Bad stuff happens. You may cry. Then you’ll laugh a bunch and – hurrah! – you’ll leave with a smile on your face. Simon knows that and he protected that. I was worried we’d lose the fun of it because everything nowadays is either getting so dark or so fucking bananas, off-the-wall, post-meta funny. I just wanted to do straight-up our thing and that’s there because Simon’s a fan. We have some superfans in our group and those who don’t really care so when you mash those two up something new comes out.”
How did you adjust to working with Fast & Furious director Justin Lin?
“JJ was a fun, out-there energy on set and the biggest cheerleader you can have. By contrast Justin is super quiet, introspective, works so hard and is so diligent. Amazing to have on board and one of the best collaborators I’ve worked with.”
Was Leonard Nimoy still with you all in spirit on Beyond?
“He was a great guy. I really enjoyed his company. He was very close to Zach and I’m close to Zach, so to see him have such a good relationship with someone who almost became a father figure to him was really meaningful. We all miss him but he had a great time while he was here and has left a great legacy behind.”
Did you enjoy facing off against Idris Elba?
“It’s like watching someone play jazz. He’s coming up with all this character stuff in the moment and you have to play off him and be alive to that. He’s a scary guy to begin with, a very big guy. He’s imposing and a charismatic gentleman.”
Do you think he could be Bond?
“Are you kidding me? I think he’d be a kick-ass Bond!”
This role took you to another level of Bond-style stardom and, back in 2009, you said you weren’t comfortable with the whole celebrity thing. Is it sitting with you a little better now?
“It all gets a little easier. It’s nice to be known for what you do but the loss of anonymity kinda blows sometimes. It would be nice to have a little more of that but for the most part I walk down the street and nobody knows who I am.”
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What’s the oddest fan encounter you’ve experienced?
“Sometimes people think they recognise you, then they don’t believe you when you say what you were in. Then you get stuck in this cycle trying to prove who you are! I don’t do it anymore. I’ll just say Captain America or Green Hornet or Thor… I’ll just go though all the heroes I haven’t played!”
Do you get advice from your dad?
“The greatest thing about my dad is that he doesn’t try to guide me, he just lets me live my own life. I learned a lot by his example. He had to go through a lot more shit than I did and came out on top. Always smiling.”
Did growing up with parents in the industry make it easier for you?
“By virtue of nepotism? No. But dealing with the day-to-day? Yes. But growing up I didn’t see the world through rose coloured glasses. There were really bad years and really good years… My dad’s a workaday actor. Guest spots. Pilots that didn’t go. He did the voice-overs and commercials. I know what it’s really like. Also, practically speaking, LA is a really big place. In and of itself you gotta get used to it and that takes a long time. Growing up there I didn’t have to do that. I had that down!”
What’s the best advice you’ve had on dealing with it?
“I remember reading Michael Caine’s book on acting. It’s so true when he said don’t ever yell on set. Because no matter what you’re yelling about you’ll always look like an asshole. I though that was very profound. But of course I’ve still done it!”
You once serenaded a fan with Frank Sinatra’s ‘Summer Wind’. Would you like to play Ol’ Blue Eyes on the big screen?
“I would play Sinatra tomorrow in a heartbeat. That would be an absolute dream. It’s been floating around for while but I’ve never seen a script. I don’t even know if it exists. What a life… Fuck, are you kidding me?”
Which song of his would you sing in the shower?
“Speaking as Kirk… It’s gotta be ‘Fly Me To The Moon’, right?”
Star Trek Beyond is out on DVD now.