Question: So can you tell us about Bernie?
CHRIS PINE: Yeah, Bernie Webber. I didn’t get a chance to meet him obviously. He passed away. I met his daughter and you guys just missed the actual Fitz, Andy Fitzgerald and Gus, his best friend, and that was a great treat. There’s a great recording of Bernie talking to an interviewer years and years ago about the rescue and I guess, above and beyond the heroism of it, you can kind of get the sense that he’s sick of retelling the story, you know? That, for him, this was his job, this was what he was supposed to do and just like anyone clocking in for a job, his task was going out and saving people, and a real sense that there was no glory in it for him or any need for self-aggrandizement. It was just very simple. So I guess I like the simplicity of the character.
Did you connect to that, as someone who’s regularly asked exhaustively about your job?
PINE: Umm, no. Well, I mean, to that aspect of it, I suppose, but no. The temperament of this character seemed altogether different from usually what you encounter in this business which is all about, you know, fame and the glam of it. I don’t know if it’s just men of a different generation, that’s the WWII generation or just immediately after it. There was just a simplicity to the description of it. There was no drama to it. The waves were incredibly huge. What they were going up against was unbelievable in terms of the heroism of these men, but there was this almost metronomic dispatch of facts of events that had taken place; the waves were big, they couldn’t see anything, they lost their compass, it was snowing, nearly dying of hypothermia. It was the skill of the crew, but also we thought much of divine providence having a great deal to do with it.
So how has watching that interview affected your performance?
PINE: I guess, again, he struck me as a very honest, direct, open man. Ben and I have talked about it, but I really like this idea of men clocking in for the workday and it just so happens on this day, something incredible happened but above and beyond that, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. People doing the right thing, I don’t know. I like the clear-cutness of that, you know?
In your career you’ve done a lot of physical roles. From what we’re seeing on the ship, you really need a lot of stamina and energy. Is this the most difficult physical thing you’ve had to do as an actor?
PINE: That’s actually kind of great fun. It’s like a big roller coaster ride. It is pretty terrifying when you see all that water coming at you, but it is really fun. Yeah, it gets more difficult when we’re out there and they’re pounding us with the elements and the wind and we’re in a ginormous aluminum box basically that just traps the cold weather, the cold air, so it can get difficult. There was a particularly cold morning the other day and definitely the time where I could feel myself just about breaking and then you see Andy Fitzgerald who was actually out there on the boat and you shut up real fast, as we’re in dry suits and I have a heating shirt and the whole bit. It is hard, but it’s a nice, easy way for all of us to understand how difficult it may have been. I mean, it’s really, really cold, and here I am pretending to steer a boat in no current. The stories of what they had to do with the boats flying out of the water, the rudder’s out of the water, they’re going through these steep, steep pitches not being able to see anything, it’s difficult but it’s no comparison to what actually happened.