Chris Pine has had roles in films like The Princess Diaries 2 and Smokin’ Aces before scoring his breakthrough role with Captain James T. Kirk in the recent Star Trek reboot. Since then, he has had success with the films Unstoppable and This Means War.
Now the 31 year-old actor’s latest role is in the drama People Like Us. He plays Sam, a man who must now deliver money in the wake of his father’s funeral to his fairly troubled sister, played by Elizabeth Banks, and nephew, whom he never knew even existed. Chris was asked if he felt audiences will identify with the film’s characters, which were loosely based on a real-life situation by its director Alex Kurtzman.
“Yeah,” Pine replies, “It’s what’s been interesting going around the country, talking about the film, is that without fail in every city someone has had this same story happen to them. And, I guess, I originally thought, ‘Well, maybe it’s not all that relatable, because who’s got secret families, and maybe it’s like a small, small percentage,’ but even if it is, we encounter people all the time that say that it’s happened to them. And even if it hasn’t happened to them, we all come from families whether we know them or not. Or whether we know they’re our parents or not, or if we’re foster kids, or orphans, or whatever the fact of the circumstance is.
“It’s that they come from fallible parents, who were kids once, who decided to have kids, and had to learn how to be parents,” he adds, “And then the learning process of becoming a parent, and raising a kid, faults were made, and damage is done. And whether it’s conscious or not, whether it’s abuse or not, there’s stuff we all have to deal with. So I think that that hopefully is the kind of the resonant pitch of our film.”
Pine talks about
“Well, I would say specifically with my parents, I can recall very specifically when I looked at my father and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, you’re a person, and not a superhuman,’ Chris says, “Because there’s that long stretch of your life where Mom and Dad know everything. What’s this about, Mom? What’s that about, Dad? I remember I have this distinct memory of asking questions all of the time, as if they knew everything.”
Chris talks about what was different about doing People Like Us from doing Star Trek.
“Star Trek gave me the opportunity to do a film like this and to have it seen, hopefully,” he says, “I owe Star Trek really the pop in my career, was the ability to make choices, more than earlier in my career, is due to that franchise, so I’m very thankful for it. But just because this is a movie about family and it’s a small character-driven thing, it’s not necessarily the choice. There wasn’t forethought there, saying, ‘I want to make a small movie now.’”
“I mean, if this happened to have car chases in it, it’s the fact of the matter is that it’s a really well-told story,” Pine continues, “I mean, you just hope for a good story and a good character to play and kind of, doesn’t really always necessarily matter, the nuts and bolts of it, and what’s going on. It’s, you want a good story to tell with a character that goes from A to Z and I think Alex did that.”
Pine shared his thoughts on the film premiering at the L.A. Film Festival as someone who had grown up there.
“I’m not the person to ask about festivals,” he replies, “My knowledge goes as far as like, Toronto, Sundance, and maybe Tribeca and Cannes. I don’t know. For me, always, it’s like, ‘Well, does that mean people are going to see our film?
“I love the fact that with Star Trek, a film that would have very easily been made in Vancouver, Canada, was made right here,” Chris adds, “It was made at MGM, or at Sony, so I think that it’s a great thing. I think that anything that will help — this is an industry town, and some people knock it for it. There’s some bad things associated with being Hollywood, but God damn it, we’re Hollywood, man. That’s what we do. We make films. So I think anything that highlights that is fantastic.”
In People Like Us, there is a scene where Sam smokes marijuana with Michelle Pfeiffer’s character Lillian. Chris was asked if he had an opinion on the California state ballot in this year’s election to try and legalize the substance.
“I don’t have an opinion about it one way or another,” Pine replies, “I think no one really cares about my opinion on that, but it seems like a lot of money is wasted trying to fight something that’s clearly been here for a long time.”
Pine talked about working with the film’s director, Alex Kurtzman.
“My concern early on was that because he’d spent so much time writing the film that it could very well be precious to him, and something that he would want to protect and kind of navigate to with too much control,” he says, “For an actor, that’s no fun, because then you feel like you’re constrained and constricted, so I told him from the get-go, because I already knew that I felt a great attachment to the character, I said, “I
“And Alex, very graciously and without fail, every step along the way, gave up his script to us and said, ‘Try to make it better,’” Chris continues, “And that, it continues to amaze me, the kind of grace he went about doing that, because, as a first-time director, and with a story that personal, it could have easily gone the other way.”
It was brought up to Chris that Kurtzman had picked him to do the film because he had seen him in the stage play The Lieutenant of Inishmore and felt the Star Trek star was capable of doing a dramatic role. He was asked if theatre was something he plans to continue to do as an actor.
“For the rest of my life,” Pine replies simply, “Theater is a huge part of my life. It will continue to be a huge part of my life. It’s why I got into this. It’s the high that I get from doing theater is not matched by, quite honestly, many things. You get moments of it in film.”
“Film is a very difficult, different medium over which you have very little control,” he continues, “I like the fact that when you step out on the stage, for that given night, you are the master of the boards, for better or for worse. I just love it to death. It just makes me happier that many things.”
Pine was asked if he felt pressure about doing the Star Trek sequel, which is set for release May 17 of next year.
“I just think, generally speaking, the more money that’s involved in anything, the more people are expecting and hoping that it’s not going to fail,” Chris replies, with a laugh, “So if you’re a part of that process of whether it’s going to fail or succeed or
“Other than a really fervent desire for people to come and watch it and to like it, because I think we, at least on the second one, we at least tried to do a really good job,” he adds, “Often times, I think, too, it’s like, with critics, I think they think we try to make bad films. It’s like, they think we want to spend five months of our lives making something bad. And we always go out with the best of intentions, whether it’s fluffy comedy or whether it’s whatever, a drama or a comedy or this. It’s always in the effort of, ‘Please, come, like it, enjoy it., take something away.’”