On the cusp of two blockbuster releases, Chris Pine shows he’s every bit the leading man—and still a regular L.A. guy
By Marshall Heyman
Photographed by Sam Jones
Chris Pine comes across as something of a Hollywood anomaly. This summer, the 32-year-old star returns to big screens with the sure-bet blockbuster Star Trek Into Darkness—the first grossed a stunning $257 million domestically—and as the title character of Jack Ryan, based on the Tom Clancy novels.
But in real life, our modern-day Captain Kirk references German philosopher Immanuel Kant as freely as he uses words like modicum. It also doesn’t faze him to be grouped and even confused occasionally with two other very tall, very attractive movie stars with the same name: Chris Evans, 31, aka Captain America and Chris Hemsworth, 29, aka Thor.
As Pine explains when we meet for breakfast at Café Stella in Silverlake, not far from his new Los Feliz home, he’s perfectly happy to be bundled with those other Chrises. Heck, he’ll even take a comparison to James Marsden, whom he slightly resembles today with his perfect crewcut and his well-tended facial hair. Blending in with the crowd allows him to be inconspicuous, to better fly under the radar of fans, of paparazzi, of the media’s staring eyes.
“People say, ‘Oh look. Is that Chris Evans? Chris Pine? What’s your name?’” says Pine, dressed in jeans and a nondescript T-shirt. “I’m just Waspy enough. A six-foot-tall white man, you kind of blend in, and that’s fine with me.”
“It helps,” he adds as he digs into a bowl of oatmeal, that “I don’t really seek anything out. Hopefully, I put the vibe out of ‘not looking for it.’”
By “it,” he means fame and attention.
“I’m very clear about my relationship to ‘it’ and I don’t like ‘it.’ I find ‘it’ very invasive, though I’m trying to welcome ‘it’ more in an effort to be more zen and not-angsty. But on the totem pole of people giving a shit about me, I’m pretty much in the middle, which is great.”
Pine was born into Hollywood. He grew up in the Valley surrounded by a family of actors. His father, Robert Pine, appeared on “CHiPs.” By the time his mother, Gwynne Gilford, was pregnant with him, she had given up the craft and would move on to become a practicing psychotherapist. Higher education was the expected path.
“In my family, that’s what you do,” says Pine, who studied English literature at UC Berkeley. “There was no question you weren’t going to college.” (Pine’s older sister, Katie, is a child counselor.)
At Oakwood School in North Hollywood, Pine was into sports. It wasn’t until his Berkeley matriculation that he started to explore acting. When he invited his parents up to see a production of the obscure Thomas Kilroy play Talbot’s Box in which he was starring, “I saw the look in my mom’s eye and she said, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to be a lawyer?’” Pine recalls, smiling. “She gave me a kiss on the cheek, and that was it.”
Pine is one of the few major movie stars in Hollywood to stay true to his love of the stage. “There’s something romantic about it,” he says. In recent years, he has appeared in Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore at the Mark Taper Forum as an Irish terrorist and Beau Willimon’s Farragut North at the Geffen Playhouse, in a role Ryan Gosling eventually took to the big screen in The Ides of March.
Though he has a Reese Witherspoon action comedy (This Means War) and a solid runaway train hit (Unstoppable) on his resume, when pressed, Pine admits that he wouldn’t mind getting the kinds of artsy movies Gosling gets, too.
“Even the way you say it, it’s such the cliché of the actor,” explains Pine. “I’m not going to feed that, but it’s probably true.” It’s not unusual to want to experiment. “My friend’s a journalist in London and he’s dying for a fucking change. At our age, now’s the time to explore and figure out what you love.”
Still, making a big film like Star Trek is “a delicate balance,” Pine says—one that especially involves no spoilers. “The responsibility you have is to the genre, but that’s a whole different challenge.” Should he spill any beans, “I have such Christian guilt syndrome that I’d have to email [director] J.J. [Abrams] right away and confess.”
What Pine will say is in this new installment, Captain Kirk “has his…
[Read more in the latest C For Men, on newsstands now!]