Pine, Quinto talk ‘Trek’

By Evan Minsker

Since 1966, “Star Trek” has sparked dozens of variations-TV shows, movies, cartoons and merchandise, to name a few. The name of the short-lived and iconic show brings to mind a subculture, not just three seasons of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.

On May 7,  “Star Trek” will be revamped by “Lost” co-creators J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof. Star Trek looks at the origins of Captain James T. Kirk, Spock and the crew of the USS Enterprise.

The cast of the film includes many of today’s up-and-coming young actors from different genres of film, such as Eric Bana, Shaun of the Dead comedian Simon Pegg and Harold and Kumar star John Cho. Also starring in the film is the original Spock, Leonard Nimoy, reprising his classic role.

The Chronicle spoke with two of the film’s stars, “Heroes” villain Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock, and Chris Pine, who plays Capt. Kirk, about preparing for the film, the state of the “Star Trek” franchise and who the film was made for.

The Chronicle: What kind of research did you do to prepare for your roles?

Chris Pine: In the beginning, I got the box set of the series. So I was mid-way through watching the first season of the original series when I kind of realized that what I was doing was really setting myself up for disaster. I mean, what Mr. Shatner did was so unique and specific and wonderful, and what he did was such a great job. I just felt that it actually served me more to really pay attention to the wonderful script we were given by Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman and trying to live up to the great writing that they gave us instead of trying to immerse myself in the details of the original series. I found that I was placing an undue kind of burden of creating an impersonation rather than an original incarnation.

Zachary Quinto: I obviously utilized Leonard [Nimoy] to a great extent and engaged him in many, many conversations about the character. I also had the advantage of being cast really early, so I immersed myself in a lot of reading about the world of “Star Trek” and the mythology. I worked with a good friend who’s subsequently become my business partner, who is arguably one of the biggest “Star Trek” fans, certainly that I know, to sort of help guide me through the questions I had in preparation for starting.

Will the film appeal to non-fans?

ZQ: Now that the movie’s starting to screen and we’re getting feedback, I think the thing that I’ve heard most consistently is from non-“Star Trek” fans who felt exhilarated and connected to these characters much more than they expected to be. So, the hope is that the movie itself transcends the connection to Star Trek for people that might not have exposure to it.  And J.J. has said openly and many times that he didn’t necessarily make this movie for “Star Trek” fans. He made this movie for future “Star Trek” fans, and that’s something that I think comes across in the film.

CP: Really, quite honestly, I think it has to do with relationships and good characters. I don’t think it matters that it takes place in the future and on a spaceship and things that could potentially alienate people that don’t care about either of that or big spectacle movies.  At the heart of this are really accessible characters and situations, feelings and emotions we all go through, and it happens to take place in this different space.

ZQ: No pun intended (laughs).

Do you see it as a much-needed reboot for the series?

ZQ: It’s kind of an arguable fact that the franchise has, you know, sort of …

CP: Hit a slump.

ZQ: (Laughs) Hit a slump. Yeah, it’s declined to a degree over the years in the estimation of many fans. So if we do what we set out to do, then yes, I think this will be something that revives the franchise and brings it back to life in a bold, vivid way and draws new people into it and generates an excitement that’s not so specific to science-fiction, but on a broader, sort of mainstream level. If it really does well, then I’m sure people will be talking about doing more. We all signed on for three when we signed on for this one, so if there are going to be more films, we will be in at least two of them.

CP: Yeah, I think what J.J. brings to the series is exactly what any big budget franchise needs, which is a commitment and a focus on character and relationships and the drama behind all the great effects, so I think he’s pretty much the best medicine for the series.

What has been your favorite part of this project?

CP: It’s been an opportunity to meet people that I will know for the rest of my life and I can call friends. It’s been a great opportunity to meet people that I respect as artists and that I like as people, and that I get to share this great around-the-world adventure with them. It’s just a total blessing, and I’m very grateful for it.

ZQ: Ditto.

Star Trek hits theaters on May 8. For more information about the film including exclusive bonus features, visit