He’s got a blockbuster career, leading-man looks, a fast car—and an even faster starship. So why isn’t Chris Pine the typical A-list jerk? As we found out, there’s a lot more to Captain Kirk than just swagger.
YOU’VE NEVER DONE A WORKOUT LIKE CHRIS PINE’S.
Well, unless you’d describe your own routine as a martial-arts sequence from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon crossed with a big-league cleanup hitter’s on-deck routine, with a few moves from The Nutcracker thrown in for good measure. It turns out that Pine—yes, Captain Kirk in the smash-hit Star Trek films, a fit, sharp-jawed leading man if ever there was one—maintains his physique not by hitting the weights like every other ripped big-name actor in Hollywood, but by swinging “Clubbells,” giant, heavy, metal bats. It’s a workout so throwback that his trainer, Mark Wildman, describes it as “Cain kills Abel.”
“These movements,” Wildman says, pausing to hoist a club bell that looks like a kid’s Fisher-Price bat—only made of steel—“are why woolly mammoths went extinct.”
It’s a Friday morning in Glendale, CA, and I’ve joined Pine at Wildman’s studio, a brightly lit space with exercise mats and floor- to-ceiling windows, where we swing Clubbells with varying degrees of success. In fitness terms, the workout’s closest analogue is a kettlebell session—you grip a weight and perform lunges, squats, presses, and lifts; but with Clubbells there’s a greater emphasis on grace and flow. Only I’m not so graceful, and more than once I pound my club into the wall by accident.
Pine, meanwhile, looks firmly at ease wielding his giant Bamm-Bamm weapons, and drives them elegantly through some invisible strike zone (or, if you’d prefer, mastodon’s skull) with crushing power, all the while managing to keep himself perfectly balanced.
“Before this,” he says, “I was doing pretty traditional weightlifting. It was so static, so controlled. You know, bench presses…it was so stiff. I started getting into this idea of movement and it led me to Mark, whose philosophy is about moving the body in different directions. This is more functional.”
Unlike most actors in Hollywood, Pine’s goal isn’t to build enormous muscle. Rather, he says, he wants “contiguous muscles, more natural.”
It shows. He’s tall—6’1″—with a lean, muscular, ectomorphic physique he attributes to this exact routine. “With this workout, all of a sudden you start to float more,” he says. “Even my friends used to make fun of the way I walked. I was walking in this rigid way, and it had a lot to do with having been an insecure kid trying to move protectively. Now, my body is moving in a more healthful way. It’s because of Mark’s process.”
Workout aside, it’s obvious there’s something different about Chris Pine. He’s staggeringly un-dickish, and he carries himself with a level of humility that, in this town, makes him about as off- the-beaten-path as they come.
Before I can ask about his childhood, our 50 minutes of bashing Abel are up. Pine takes a swig of water from one of the empty bourbon bottles that Wildman keeps around, and we head for the exit. Tonight Pine needs to catch a plane for Cannes, where he’s premiering his new western, Hell or High Water, co-starring Jeff Bridges.
But before that, the man now known for commanding the most famous starship in the world needs to refuel.
This is a preview-only version of Chris Pine’s cover story in the July/August 2016 issue of Men’s Fitness. For the full story, including exclusive content, download the issue on FRIDAY, JUNE 24 or pick up a copy on newsstands on MONDAY, JUNE 27.
Actor Chris Pine was all set to wave the green flag for the 100th running of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He talked about his flag lesson.
“The biggest single day event, I think, in the state. It’s quite something, man. I can’t wait to hear the cars, though. I’ve had a very brief flag lesson. Interestingly, the one thing they said is ‘don’t drop the flag.'”
Over the course of his career, Chris Pine has played an impressively wide variety of characters. He’s been an intergalactic spaceman, a CIA analyst, a post-apocalyptic heartthrob, a reluctant rock god and a mid-century Coast Guard officer. Ask the 35-year-old Pine which role has made him happiest, though, and he’ll inform you that given his druthers, he’d always prefer to sport a hairpiece.
“Anytime I get offered a chance to wear a wig, I will do it,” Pine says one sunny Los Angeles morning, referencing his shaggy, bedraggled character on the Netflix original series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. “I really love doing comedy. It’s just not a bad way to spend the day.”
Of course, any day that Pine, who also moonlights as the face of Armani Code, finds himself on camera seems to be a good day—at least for moviegoers. And in the coming months, we’re poised to see plenty of him: first in the dramatic Disney offering The Finest Hours, out now, and then reprising his role as Captain James Kirk in this summer’s Star Trek: Beyond, his third film in the franchise.
In Hours, a 1950s period piece based on the true story of a heroic Coast Guard rescue, Pine plays Bernie Webber, who is sent out in a blizzard to rescue a crew stranded on a sinking oil tanker off the coast of Massachusetts. Reader, if you’re prone to seasickness do not see this film in 3-D. Despite the rocky waters, Pine disappears into his role completely, offering a strong and memorable performance that showcases his dramatic chops and adds significantly to the film’s heart. This is a harrowing story—and it’s one Pine didn’t take lightly.
“If the Coast Guard crew was tasked with doing the same mission the next night and the night after that, they would have done it,” Pine says with reverence. “That’s their job, but they don’t have their names engraved in stone and they don’t take a selfie of the moment. I think that it moves us as artists to remind and re-remind our community that being selfless is something that should be done because it’s the right and good and human thing to do.”
That basic principle is also at the forefront of the big-screen adaptation of Wonder Woman, which Pine is currently filming in London and is slated to premiere in 2017. In the film, Pine plays Steve Trevor, whom he describes as Wonder Woman’s “partner in crime… who falls in love with her.” And despite his history as a leading man in action movies, Pine says he’s just fine playing sidekick to Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s fearsome female lead.
“Action is so synonymous with violence and revenge and eye-for-an-eye; the masculine footprint in the world is so violent and obviously it hasn’t really gotten us anywhere,” Pine says. “A woman at the forefront naturally leads with this compassion, and [is about] giving life instead of taking life. To have a strong woman who represents those qualities, I think we can start injecting this world with a little bit more of the ideology of compassion, love and positive moral strength rather than something destructive.”
It’s a positive energy that Pine’s not only hoping to bring to this world, but to other galaxies as well. Discussing his role in Star Trek, he notes that as the franchise creeps toward its 10th birthday, it’s become an increasingly comfortable gig. “It’s gotten so much better and so much easier,” he says. “This family we built has gotten tighter, stronger and stranger; we fight more and we make up more. It’s a great marriage—we understand each other and what we all do best… And now that J.J. Abrams has left, the kids have taken over the asylum.”
As for what will come next—and whether it’ll involve a wig—Pine says he’s not quite sure, and he isn’t rushing to make any decisions.
“When I was a younger actor, I meditated and marinated over the effect on the long-term and the short-term, the this and the that,” he says. “I thought myself out of so many things I could have done. Now, if a couple of things pop to me, if my internal speedometer is going in that direction, then I say yeah. Let’s rock ‘n’ roll.”