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May 06, 2013

I have included a few select snippets below of Chris’s interview from his June/July cover issue of OUT Magazine, but it is simply a must that you check out his interview in full over at OUT.COM – It would be a complete shame if you didn’t.

Chris Pine shows up with a thesis statement. “I think there is a growing homogenization of what masculinity means,” he says.

Asked by Pine’s reps a week earlier for a brief outline of the focus for this piece, I’d fired off a vague, pretentious email about how leading men in movies seem ripe for reinterpretation — especially, say, the kind of characters Pine plays, like Star Trek Into Darkness’s Captain Kirk or, coming later this year, Tom Clancy’s CIA hero Jack Ryan. Maybe he would want to talk about that.

He’s read my email. He’s come prepared.

Heroes in today’s films all look the same, Pine argues, ticking off a list: “Bare chested. Very tan. White. Brown hair, blue eyes, perfect skin.” He grimaces. “That is so — not real.”

***

Pine reminds me that there’s something people always say about a guy like him: “The big joke is, what are you going to do with an English major?”

He’s not kidding — he earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley’s top-notch English department in 2002 — but even without the pedigree, it’s obvious this guy is smart. Not just actor smart. Not just wisecracking late-night talk-show smart or charming, control-the-narrative-of-your-own-cover-story smart. He’s the kind of smart you have to hustle to keep up with. The kind of smart that seems unfair, given the fact that he’s also a keenly talented actor who stares at you so sincerely with those blue eyes while spitting out 50-point Scrabble words.

It’s possible that Pine’s success is in part a fluke of timing. He’s come into the prime of his leading man potential just as action movies—still the gold standard for a box office–driven industry obsessed with drawing young men into its clutches—seem to be getting more intelligent, even if they cycle through the same archetypal territories of daddy issues, best-buddy bromances, and reluctant heroism.

***

Pine has found a formidable foil and word-sparring partner in crime in Trek costar (and fellow Out cover boy) Zachary Quinto. In modern movie tradition, the two spend arguably as much time sitting side by side at press junkets as they do on set. There is even one YouTube clip cut together to highlight a lengthy war of vocabulary one-upsmanship between them. (“The rivalry that we have in life is really rooted to the mastery of the English language,” Quinto jokes in the video.)

Kirk and Spock occupy a high throne in postmodern media studies, the academic form of super-meta criticism that came into fashion just after Pine’s college days. Their epic, devoted relationship inspired the earliest examples of fan fiction, collected in Xeroxed zines and distributed at sci-fi conventions. This pre-dated the Internet, decades before homoeroticism became a part of queer film theory. Eventually bromance entered the mainstream lexicon as a way to describe the intense connection between two male characters.

Or you could just call it a love story. “In the tradition of many great romances,” Manohla Dargis wrote in The New York Times review of the 2009 film, “the two men take almost an instant dislike to each other.”

“I always thought about it more like it was the dialectic of a human being,” Pine says. “One couldn’t be more logic and reason — that’s his genetic coding. And the other is more impulsive, following his passion, his fists. That was how it was a functional relationship. You have Spock as the cold reason, you had the passion of Jim Kirk, and then you had the ironic sarcasm of McCoy, which gave the whole thing levity. That dynamic was beautiful.”

Quinto concurs. “I love that he and I got to inherit that dynamic, which obviously pre-exists us thanks to Leonard [Nimoy] and Bill Shatner,” Quinto says. “It’s endlessly fascinating to me, and that’s why I think the characters and the story and the franchise are so enduring.”

“That relationship is the core of what Kirk goes through,” Pine says. “The arc and the trajectory of his journey is huge, almost Greek. But it’s through his relationship with Spock that he learns the greatest lessons, about loving someone to the point of being able to do away with all rules and regulations and constraints in order to save, protect, and do justice to your friend.”

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