The moment Chris Pine delivered his bold new take on pop culture icon Capt. James T. Kirk in J.J. Abrams’ bold new Star Trek reboot, Hollywood executives were lightning quick to place him on the short list for the new Action Hero Sweepstakes. And why not? With his rugged American idol looks, Pine forged a strong connection with audiences and Trek fans alike because of his tangible charm. But wouldn’t you know that besides possessing total swoon appeal, Pine wants to be known as a man who really wants to make people laugh?
After saving a New York suburb from total destruction in runaway train epic Unstoppable, Pine signed on to poke fun at his new action hero status. In This Means War, Pine relished the chance to play FDR, a spy who finds his ladies’ man status – and his relationship with his best friend, fellow spy Tuck (Tom Hardy) – threatened by their battle for the attentions of the beautiful Lauren (Reese Witherspoon). It was the ultimate example of wish fulfillment, in more way than one for the 31 year-old rising star.
“Any actor wants to do interesting roles, different roles,” Pine said. “It’s not all that much fun to do the same thing over and over again. Since Star Trek came out, I’ve had some opportunities to do different things. I do enjoy doing action quite clearly, but I also really like doing comedy.”
While director McG (Charlie’s Angels, Terminator: Salvation) pulls out all of the stops in terms of stunts and set pieces, it is the camaraderie of FDR and Tuck that has the higher-octane moments in This Means War. One of the many genre twists employed by this cinematic hybrid is its contribution to the 21st century concept of “bromance.” Why is this a popular term to define the way male friendships are being depicted on film of late? While Pine admitted to enjoying this new era of male bonding on screen, he wasn’t certain as to why it has taken such a hold on contemporary films.
“I don’t know,” Pine said, “but it’s a question that deserves a good answer. What I would say is that it definitely resonates. You have your family, you have your significant other and you have your friends. You have your deepest, closest friends and it is a love.”
Sitting down during a packed schedule of interviews for This Means War in Los Angeles last fall, it was interesting to note how Pine’s casual demeanor surprisingly contradicted the images spun by the entertainment news media machine. With his trademarked shaggy brows rising above his glasses, he had the air of a cool English professor, rather than heartthrob, which Pine looks to prefer. Yet, mischief can also be found in how he chooses to express himself. Make that honest mischief. For example, read his answer when asked as to whom HE would pick if given the choice to be romanced by himself or Hardy:
“Oh, I don’t know,” Pine said with a raucous laugh. “Tom’s a charismatic motherf-er. He got the accent. He’s got the whole British thing! I totally get it, okay? I got the eyebrows. It’s the battle between the accent and the eyebrows!”
Let the hunk-er games begin as Pine sounds off on the making This Means War, now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
JORGE CARREON: Still, how does it feel play a character that embodies a certain amount of charm and power like FDR?
CHRIS PINE: Kind of ridiculous. [LAUGHS] I’ve never thought of myself as that kind of guy, but it’s fun to do. The opportunity that (director) McG gave me in This Means War was to really go full-tilt and really explore the comedy side and have some fun with action. It’s important not to be pigeonholed and, of course, Hollywood does like to fit everybody into these re-made things. But I think any actor that enjoys what they do likes to do different things and will search out different ways to express themselves. Before I took on this role, I met with Reese and we sat down and had a long lunch. From one meeting, I knew that I would love to spend time with this lady. Romantic stuff is always so much easier when you get to sit across from someone that you actually like. I loved Reese and I said, “God, this is going to easy-peasy trying to fall in love with a woman whom I as a human being already love.”
CARREON: In some ways, FDR does allow you to poke fun at some of the action heroes you’ve played recently? What made the entertaining for you?
PINE: The fun thing about FDR in this film is the journey that he takes. In the beginning he is a superficial bastard, dastardly bastard. He’s the kind of spy that enjoys being a spy and everything that comes with it. The cars and the women, the weekend trysts and the guns and the clothes, the whole bit. He’s like the kid that actually gets to become James Bond. What he finds throughout the course of events of the movie is that he meets this wonderful woman and he grows up, from being a superficial kid to a, hopefully, deeper kind of guy.
CARREON: Do you think it is ego or pride that motivates FDR and Tuck to be willing to ditch their friendship in order to win Lauren’s affections?
PINE: The way that I envisioned my character, it certainly was an ego thing in the beginning. It was another conquest and in his search for another conquest, he finds this girl that is not conquerable, sees through his BS, is able to call him on it. Because she’s able to do that, he falls madly in love with her. For Tuck, Tom Hardy’s character, he is way more of a heart-on-the-sleeve kind of guy. He’s a man with an ex-wife and a kid. He’s already made that kind of move to maturity and he’s looking to settle down. So for him, it is about finding love. There’s this moment early on in the film where he explains to my character, “Don’t you ever kind of want to settle down and find someone to share life with?” My character turns to him, “No, absolutely not. What are you talking about? We live great lives!”
CARREON: Would you have preferred to play the sensitive romantic that is Tuck or did you connect with FDR’s Alpha Male demeanor?
PINE: It’s interesting because Tom has that wonderful combination. I can see why he’s so appealing because he’s got this very masculine energy, but he’s also a very kind of sensitive soul. I never thought of FDR as an Alpha Male as much as a big Labrador that just wants to play all the time. He’s not an Alpha Male as much like a hedonist.
CARREON: Did you and Tom Hardy become competitive as you were making the film?
PINE: The objective of these two characters is to win over the girl, so there were times and there were scenes where we were trying to one up one another. We were peppering the dialogue with whatever we could come up with in the moment. It was fun to work opposite someone like Tom, who is such a talent. It just kind of heightens the stakes.
CARREON: How did you and Tom create your chemistry? Did it feel like you were stepping into a ring of sorts?
PINE: We both share a love of theater and doing theater. I can’t speak for him, but it was a respect on my part just for his talent and a healthy sense of competition. He’s a really talented actor, so the metaphor of stepping into the ring is very apropos. It’s going into the ring and battling someone who’s a very adept actor, so it was really a matter of just winning. He won my respect for sure.
CARREON: Nice to see the women caught in War are not your usual rom com gals?
PINE: What’s fun about Reese and Chelsea is that they’re empowered women. Chelsea speaks like the gruffest dude on the planet. And you have Reese who plays this woman who’s very powerful and very successful in her chosen field. I think the women represented in this field are like you do not want to mess with these women at all! Chelsea will fu*k some shi* up! [LAUGHS]
CARREON: Let’s talk about romancing some Reese.
PINE: It’s such an overused description, but Reese is very real, honest and present. She’s a wonderful mother and she is beautiful! She’s just so smart and really a lot of fun to work with. I’d work with her again in a heartbeat.
CARREON: One of the film’s highlights in the Reese rump shaker before you boys come in for some espionage without her knowing. Care to comment on your co-star's dancing skills?
PINE: [LAUGHS] She danced her little white butt off! That’s a hard thing, too. When we shot that scene, you have to imagine, here is a woman in her long sweater and doing something that everybody does. It’s a private moment and how hard is it to be authentic in front of people, live on camera? It’s not emotional or anything, but we all have those moments, whatever it is. People sing in the shower, people talk to themselves. It’s a very difficult thing to do authentically and truthfully and I thought she did a great job with a fair amount of booty rhythm. It’s incredible.
CARREON: The film goes to great length to deliver the money with some amazing action scenes. But the romantic struggles of all involved really make the mix sizzle. How important was having some subtlety in the film as balance?
PINE: When we began the film, the big conversation was about tone and about what kind of movie was it going to be. I think we all agreed that it would be more interesting to make a film that was an amalgam of many different genres, in the vein of Mr. and Mrs. Smith or True Lies. That’s a really hard thing to do because you want to have the comedy and sometimes you want to go broader. But there’s also a real true emotional streak running through it that you have to convey and be aware of. I think maybe the reason why Tom and I found working together so fun and rewarding is that Tom is always about truth. My character was given a little bit more freedom to be looser with the definition of truth. I love doing that, so we balanced each other out really well. Tom is very much like doing a version of Tinker, Tailor… and I’m doing the guy that found out that he won the spy lottery. Those two different energies, I think, made for something fun.
CARREON: We see FDR as being quite adept in winning over the ladies. Do you have a patented move you would like to share?
PINE: [LAUGHS] I enjoy dating. I love first dates. I think they’re incredibly fascinating studies in human psychology. When you sit down across from someone on a first date and things are going alright, you talk objectives. We want to win each other over, so how do you win someone over? You have to put the best foot forward. But a patented Chris Pine move? [PAUSES] To try not to mess it up!
CARREON: What do you look for in a special lady?
PINE: What really does it for me is that quick wit. Someone who’s really sharp and keeps you on your toes, for lack of a better phrase. Yeah, that’s exciting. That kind of dance, like Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. Who can be quicker, sharper, funnier, faster, wittier and just as I up the game, she ups it.
CARREON: Given such revelations, I think we may have messed things up for you on future dates reading this interview.
PINE: I know! [LAUGHS] I’m just a lowly actor. I may have to learn a language or fake an accent or something, I don’t know! I may have to get a lot more interesting faster, that’s for sure.