Often it’s the quiet ones you’ve got to watch and certainly that’s the case with Chris Pine. Yes, he was the actor who played Captain Kirk in the new Star Trek movie and, yes, he was the nice-guy lover alongside Lindsay Lohan in Just My Luck.
Now the tall, handsome, blue-eyed actor is embodying Jack Ryan in the eponymous new Tom Clancy reboot, taking over from where Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck left off.
While we’ll have to wait for the Kenneth Branagh-directed movie until Christmas 2013, and for the second Star Trek instalment, Star Trek Into Darkness, in May, Pine is on our screens next week, at least in voice form, as the lead in Rise of the Guardians, a new animated franchise from DreamWorks based on William Joyce’s series of children’s books.
The boyish 32-year-old voices a teen Jack Frost and together with a group of so-called Guardians (a curmudgeonly Santa voiced interestingly by Baldwin), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the Easter Bunny (an Aussie-accented Hugh Jackman), he is protecting children against the forces of evil, notably an English-accented super-villain, called Pitch (voiced by Jude Law). Yes Pine, who has that all-American boy look of Josh Duhamel or a younger Matt Damon, is the star of three Hollywood franchises.
“You know, I’m loving it,” Pine admits in his typically matter-of-fact way.
“The great thing about my perch on that totem pole is that it’s very low and, for the most part, I have my anonymity, which I like. Granted there is a lot of abnormal, extraordinary stuff like flying to Cannes for Rise of the Guardians, and visiting Sydney for the world premiere of Star Trek. But generally I live a pretty cool under-the- radar kind of life.”
Pine, who admits to having been a dork in his youth, says he can empathise with his character.
“There’s a sensitivity to Jack that he masks. He’s the outsider, he’s always been the outsider; he’s never been part of the group.
“At the same time he’s kind of a blowhard. He doesn’t want to give it up so easily. It’s hard for him to let down his guard and open up his heart to these guys.
“This is the point of the film. Initially, all the guardians are selfish but then they come together.”
Jack Frost is a prankster with icy superpowers who has been leading a Peter Pan-style existence for 300 years. Since humans can’t see him, he feels sadly under-appreciated and really wants to connect with them in the film.
“He is a really sad boy who doesn’t have a family and is dying to know who he is and where he comes from,” he says.
Pine appreciates that the film, which boasts Guillermo del Toro as a producer, is so imaginative.
“It’s a simple story really,” he says. “But the power, the meaning of this movie is that there’s something untouched and wonderful about the childhood imagination. The whole idea of Pitch is the encroachment of adulthood, and the cynicism, the unimaginative reality and what that means.
“I think the gift of these superheroes, these guardians, is not exploding stuff and bows and arrows, and all of that, but the power to believe. Their desire is to make these children believe in everything and we, as adults, have the ability to do that too.”
Pine comes from a family of performers and says his family possess that kind of imagination.
“I can remember waking up every Christmas and my father had put boot prints around the fireplace as if Santa had come down the chimney. When I was a kid my parents made a great effort to instil a sense of belief in me; I can remember money under the pillow when I had my tooth out and all that.”
Was it nice to slip back on the uniform for Star Trek for the second time? “Oh I loved it — it’s no hyperbole,” he insists.
“We have a great group and it’s a really tight community of people I go back to work for.
“I just met Scarlett Johansson the other day and we talked about her experience on The Avengers and it sounds similar to what we were saying: that it’s such a huge film but at least if the people you get to work with every day have a sense of family, it makes the time pass that much easier and it does make you look forward to going back to work.”
Meanwhile, in his latest film as the CIA analyst Jack Ryan (last embodied by Affleck in 2002) he co-stars with Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner and Branagh, who had previously directed 2011’s Thor.
“It’s the story of how Jack Ryan became the Jack Ryan we know from the former series.
“The interesting thing now is that it’s 2012 and it’s not 1989 or 1990. In 1989 you could make a Cold War story easily by discerning between good guys and bad guys, but in 2012, it’s more difficult. The wars are much greyer now.”Rise of the Guardians opens next Thursday. Star Trek Into Darkness will be released on May 16 and Jack Ryan is expected to screen next Christmas.