According to Star Trek Into Darkness director J.J. Abrams, Pine has a secret weapon in his acting arsenal.
“One of the most valuable things about Chris is that he doesn’t have an ounce of self-awareness,” says the creator of such pop culture phenomena as Alias and Lost.
“Meaning that he is never afraid of being made to look like a fool, he is never afraid of being vulnerable, he is never afraid of being uncool and that makes him incredibly cool.”
Pine’s willingness to reveal his emotions on screen stands in marked contrast to macho characters such as Bruce Willis’ wisecracking John McClane or Sylvester Stallone’s invincible mercenary Barney Ross, both of whom have been revived for another tilt at the box office.
“He is willing to be terrified. In fact, he is willing to be ineffectual, or reactive or heartbroken,” says Abrams.
And he should know. In the sequel to his successful 2009 Star Trek reboot, the director asks Pine’s initially cocky Captain Kirk to bare his very soul.
Even among contemporaries such as Chris Hemsworth, Taylor Kitsch and Jai Courtney, the 32-year-old actor’s performance stands out.
“Those are the things that allow (the audience) to go, ‘oh, he’s like me’ – as opposed to this impervious hero who a lot of actors his age like to play, people who are more heroic than they are human,” says Abrams.
When Star Trek Into Darkness begins, Kirk is stripped of his Starship Enterprise captaincy after openly flouting a flotilla of laws during a daring rescue mission on an outlying planet. The premise for the hotly anticipated sequel is that the young turk has been given the chair prematurely. And now he has to earn it.
Pine bristles at the suggestion that Kirk’s journey might have parallels with his own.
“In my business, there is no deserve,” he says.
“You get a shot, you don’t get a shot.”
But he acknowledges the sequel provided him with much more of an acting challenge.