A year after he was cast we are finally hearing more and more from Star Trek’s new Kirk. Chris Pine opens up in the new official Star Trek Magazine about why he took the part, how it was ‘scary’ to take on the iconic role of James T. Kirk, what he thinks of the script and more. In a couple of excerpts below, Pine talks about Shatner and how we will see Kirk start off his ‘saving the world’ career early.
Excerpts from Star Trek Magazine
Pine on Shatner: he originated the role
Chris Pine told the magazine that he has corresponded back and forth with Shatner and wrote to him saying he ‘understood the big shoes he was stepping into.’ He also noted that his grandmother was a bit Shatner fan and he can still remember watching TJ Hooker with her every time she was his babysitter. Regarding whether or not he had to pause for thought on taking over the role made famous by Shatner, Pine was clear that Shatner "originated the role" and that he was "merely taking it over for a little bit."
Pine on Kirk: a very human hero
The most interesting part of the interview was what Pine had to say when asked what attracted him to the role of Kirk:
I think what [writers] Bob [Orci] and Alex [Kurtzman] did so well for Star Trek, and did so wonderfully before with Transforms, was they wrote characters who are so strong, that no matter how big the effects are, you never lose sight of the human aspect of the story. Immediately in our film, all of the characters are presented at their most human. Kirk’ interesting because he is the Everyman presented with an unbelievably epic, daunting task, an opportunity, a challenge, and he has a very difficult choice to make. It just happens it’s one of the big ones, like "try to save Planet Earth" kind of thing.
I think what ‘s great about it is he’s insecure, he’s damaged, he’s cocky, he is brash. He is all these things at once, and he’s a hero, but a very human hero. Anyone looking at it can see themselves in James T. Kirk. That’s what was great about it. It wasn’t far from myself, and I don’t think the character is far from anybody. When presented with a great challenge, it’s your choice to either step up to it, and try to take it on head first, or not. You try and do the best you can.
There was a lot of humor and a lot of action in it, but what really got me about the role were two pivotal scenes at the beginning of the movie that lays out James T. Kirk to a T. Those were the most exciting scenes, and the ones I was most looking forward to taking on.
Pine as Kirk in ‘Star Trek’ during one of the more human moments
Pick up the ‘kick ass’ issue
The latest issue of Star Trek Magazine has more from Pine about his auditions, his thoughts on the script, attending conventions and even how he thought that he and his fellow actors and the Trek team ‘kicked some major ass.’ There is also an extensive feature on Romulans (although not directly related to the new Star Trek movie).
They’s already screwed with canon. He should be James “R.” Kirk. I’m boycotting.
Okay not really. Chris is good people.
The more I hear from this guy, the more I like him. And you know, for the first time I’m actually seeing him as James T. Kirk.
“… think what ’s great about it is he’s insecure, he’s damaged, he’s cocky, he is brash”
Hmm, I agree with the cocky & brash but I don’t see him as being “insecure” ever– even as a young man. And “damaged” perhaps only later after all pressures and losses he suffers through the Trek timeline.
Looking forward to the movie and seeing the Trek legacy continue. A vision of a future full of peace and adventure
He’s been damaged ever since he saw his best buddy get his ears caught in a mechanical rice picker. That’ll screw anyone up.
JTK absolutely was damaged and insecure!
The cockiness was overcompensation, and that makes for a great, complex character.
I’m beginning to feel that Kirk’s legacy, both his newly revealed past, and his yet to be told future, is in good hands.
Good Luck Chris.
PS- Hop we get to see the girl he almost married in the academy.
Could it be Carol Marcus?
I think Kirk’s been damaged ever since Tarsus IV…
JTK , its just his machismo , Maru . I don’t think its compensation . Now Jim’s friend and the rice picker . I think we can say it picked more than his ears . He’s such a calm reasonable person , isn’t he ? Or maybe macho Jimbo just has that effect on him ?
Ah yes, Tarsus IV. I always saw that as an example of just how strong JTK was emotionally — that he could go through something as horrific and come out the other end with sanity intact. And I guess I’m defining “damaged” in my mind in pretty strong terms — so Kirk would never have gotten through the psych evals to become a Captain, a starship Captain, if that were the case. (I’m not saying a Captain can’t tip over the line AFTER becoming a Captain — we saw that in Garth of Izar and Matt Decker.)
totally agree with you!
i think he is gonna be great as Kirk and I love the fact that his granny fancied the shat… his granny!
just shows how long treks been going on!
And the idea of Will Dekker being as sure a commander of the Enterprise didn’t rattle him in the least ?
Or refusing to let Sybok release his pain…
Or insisting Picard never give up the chair?
I am well aware I am citing the worst films in the canon, but even these films address the fact that Kirk is very uncomfortable in his shell, and does all he can to demonstrate otherwise.
“…interesting because he is the Everyman …”
Kirk the Plumber?
#6 well we do know Jim is damaged , and is part of the drive he has .
Carol Marcus at the Academy with Jim , now that would be a ‘treat’ , but I’m gonna guess it won’t be , since it’s really the small print . Ah , pity !!!!
Since the Movie to be released at the Theaters is a Short Version , I’m hoping the Dvd Version , will be an extended – 2hrs+ – version , with extra features ?!!
Being kept away from David’s up bringing could be very telling, so… we’ll see.
Let’s just hope that Chris Pine has the acting chops to pull this off. If Pine has JJ’s endorsement, then that’s good enough for me. I have an almost perfect faith in this project. My only concern is that canon will get f-ed with.
F%#k canon. Canon-schmanon.
What IS “canon” anyway? It’s story elements that made it into televised episodes, but at least 2/3 of ALL the episodes were crap stories to begin with; a big chunk of the precedents laid down never should have seen the light of day in the first place.
Getting hung up on “canon” means getting hung up on b.s. that gets in the way of a truly good story.
“Canon” is for the birds, man.
I am wondering if we will see the incdent at Tarsus IV in the movie…if I remember right it was a major life impacting event in Kirk’s life.
#17 – Yeah, canon, continuity … that stuff is ridiculous to get hung up on. I mean, if in this movie it makes sense to have Kirk’s mom be an abusive alcoholic in order to set up a great character arc for Kirk, that’s cool. And if in the next Star Trek movie, it makes more sense for the story to make his mom be tender and nurturing, well, then who cares how she was portrayed in the previous movie?
Whatever serves the story you’re telling at the moment should dictate the “canon” you make up for that story, not some slavish devotion to whatever some lame previous writer came up with.
Scott B. out.
If there is NO CANON , there is NO BANG !!!! ALL you have LEFT is CRAP !!!!
“Ta ta ta taaa…… It’s Captain Kirk To Save The Day…!”
Sometimes the comments make me tremble with disgust.
An actor says Kirk is an everyman and that things from his past impact the tyoe of man he becomes and all of a sudden all of Trek has been re-written.
Jump to conclusions much?
I am constantly surprised by the rabid Trek fans capacity for ridiculous statements that are not based in any kind of fact. You would think that after two years rational discourse would prevail, but no.
To me, it’s like rejecting you birthday presents because someone changed the wrapping paper. Why don’t you open it up and see if you like it before you ask for your money back.
To #3: “Hmm, I agree with the cocky & brash but I don’t see him as being “insecure” ever– even as a young man. And “damaged” perhaps only later after all pressures and losses he suffers through the Trek timeline.”
Here’s a angle that’s sure to get everyone thinking – how many of you watched the original series eps that involved other Constitution Class ships and Captains. Do you remember that they were all depicted as middle aged men in there 40’s and 50’s? Remember how most of them were pretty condescending to Kirk – you see it most in ‘The Ultimate Computer’ and it is touched on in ‘Shore Leave’ in the Finnegan character as well. Even Gary Mitchell’s description of young Kirk as “a stack of books with legs” serves to further portray academy Kirk as something of a freakishly motivated upstart making his name among the other Constitution Class command school students who judged him to be a kid that was way out of his league.
My girlfriend and I were watching The Wrath of Khan with a few drinks just last night and for the first time I really caught the way Spock and McCoy affectionately ribbed Kirk about the Kobayashi Maru test and how they were just a little coy with Saavik regarding her inquiries into their academy days.
Personally, I think Trek has been dropping hints concerning young Kirk for a long time. The big things we already know about – Kodos and Tarsus IV, the tragic death of Captain Garrovick and the events that transpired on the Farragut – one can only wonder how these events could affect or motivate someone – maybe even freakishly motivate, eh?
So #6 – I totally agree with you. I think our buddy Jim Kirk had a lot of things to deal with as a young man that motivated him to persevere against the odds and the ageism of his peers – and I think when he DIDN’T have what it took, the others rallied behind him and pushed him into excellence.
Based on these thoughts, I think Mr. Pine has a valid take on young Kirk and I’m really curious to see what he has to bring to the table next summer.
Set a course for the rockstar baby!
I think he is going to be GREAT as Kirk.
As far as Canon goes, I think Kirk’s back story IE:
-The Kodos the executioner story
-Growing up on a farm in Iowa
-The Kobyashi Maru
-Teachers at the Academy
It’s all great stuff and I have a feeling Orci and company think so too.
All of these back stories are what make a character believable and real.
As far as Kirk being damaged goods, we’re ALL damaged goods. The story lies in how we deal with the damage we have. Kirk deals with it in a heroic way. I sincerely hope Orci and his pals play up the side of Kirk that was taken directly by Roddenberry from his inspiration Horatio Hornblower. A very strong and human concern and affection for the crew under his command.
I remember the first season played that up more than the rest.
That vulnerability that Kirk demonstrated when a crew was lost, perfectly balanced his heroic side.
My only fear about this film is that it ends up seeming like Star Trek 90210.
I sincerely don’t think it will however.
Pine will proabaly be good as Kirk
But he will never EVER take the place of William Shatner. I grew up with Shatner in the role.
As he said himself, Shatner originated the role. I am glad Pine understands the character.
I also wonder if he will convey the cross between Hamlet and Hornblower that Roddenberry described and Shatner conveyed.
I feel confident that the actors will be one factor I will be pleased with, unlike the set design which is still leaving a bad after taste in me.
#20: NO CANON = NO BANG! Excellent! =D
#17 WELL SAID WELL SAID WELL SAID WELL SAID…..I EMPLORE EVERYONE TO LOOK AT COMMENT #17
Well, he’s wrong about Transformers having any sort of characters at all. There effects in transformers swallowed the movie completely and without remorse. So here’s hoping Pine got the rest of his comments right. If he’s comparing Star Trek to Transformers in any way, I am very very afraid.
Sounds like STXI is going to be an interesting movie full of characters and intelligence… that degrades into an action flick that loses us.
But I still love Pine and what he seems to have done with Kirk, big-time. I’d see it for him alone at this point.
#17: I’m in love with your post. Absolutely took the words out of my mouth.
For sure, it’s good that different stories taking place in the same imaginary world jive with each other. For sure, it’s right that a character’s motivations stay consistant from story to story. That’s just good world-building.
BUT, if the weight of all the stories that came before get in the way of a truly good story that is well told, that makes you feel, think, laugh, cry, whatever — it becomes a liabilty and should be drop-kicked out the airlock post-haste. Dismissing a brilliant, clever, emotionally engaging story just because it’s not “canon” is being tragically narrow-minded.
And isn’t one of the primary ideas behind Trek (and much of SF in general) to expand your horizons?
Yikes. where’d that rant come from?
Anyways, Mr Pine sounds like he’s got a good feel for the character. Honestly his previous resume didn’t fill me with confidence, but he’s growing on me…
Poor guy, though. Being scrutinized to the millimetre by us geeks. ;)
on kirks insecurity: he is a better captain because of his pain and insecurity. St:5 though sucky, was great at the character development of kirk and seeing how he uses his pain to his advantage.
23. We know you are lying. We don’t have girlfriends. :-)
I wonder why Pine was relatively undecided to take the role and had to be convinced by the script first. After all he took parts in “Blind Dating”, “Just My Luck” and “The Princess Diaries 2” – no exactly the most sophisticated scripts…
– He also noted that his grandmother was a bit Shatner fan… –
Most charming rugrat…
– Pine was clear that Shatner “originated the role” and that he was “merely taking it over for a little bit.” –
See, Pine – I knew you could do it.
Kirk sometimes is on the edge – he’s a man “with strong emotions”, he’s not afraid of having feelings and he is such an extraordinary commander because of his ability to make his emotions, his gut feelings, his sensitivity part of his personality and to use it as fundamentals for his decision making. Having said that, he’s well aware of the danger of letting his emotions prevail, so he ensures his feelings, his emotions with his rationality – a unique mix which makes him the exceptional captain we know. And although he’s experienced some truly tragic occurrences and losses in his life, he isn’t “damaged”. His great emotional strength and his love for his ship, his crew, his loyalty make him the archetype of a positive hero.
“Anyone looking at it can see themselves in James T. Kirk.”
I just don’t see myself wearing that much lipstick.
Best to Pine, though. ;-)
Star Trek:Enterprise should be officially de-canonised by Paramount as that would solve the whole continuity/canon/non-canon argument and thus pave the way for this great new film!!
My ten pence worth……………..
#22 Best comment all day. I totally agree. People really ought to relax a little.
I like it when Denise de Arman goes all crazy for this guy.
Chris sure makes his Kirk sound intriguing. Can’t wait to see it.
….and the adventure continues….
#32 “I wonder why Pine was relatively undecided to take the role and had to be convinced by the script first.”
Perhaps he LEARNED from the earlier mis-steps you cite? (Besides, who cares about the script, when you can get near Anne Hathaway?)
#35 Well I’m a Constructionist following the continuity from TOS thru’ to the Movies with the Original Crew – I was quite apprehensive going and getting the latest Enterprise Series . But I really enjoyed it ! Among trekkies here , we know the interest in Star Trek started waning in Voyager and was abysmal when Enterprise started . And some even said that interest died as TNG ended . I enjoyed Enterprise which was a great canon series , fast paced and well made , but nobody was listening by then . I think this new movie will be fun , but is there enough left who care ?!!
Anyone who slept around the universe as much as James T. Kirk certainly is “insecure and damaged!” You don’t need to be a psyche major to understand that.
Kirk has always been the “Sam Malone” of STAR TREK.
40 – “I think this new movie will be fun , but is there enough left who care ?!!”
Good question. With the marketing and what all they are putting into this movie, I’m sure it’s the hope that it will open their ears and some new ears as well.
I guess something that bugs me (aside from recasting) is that I really don’t want to know the supposed origin story.
I hope he’s ‘damaged’ in a good way.
If they go all Anakin Skywalker, this is going to suck.
I believe James T. Kirk is the type to get ambitious when he comes from a place in the world (Iowa) that doesn’t recognize ambition as a virtue, (as restless as Luke Skywalker was on Tatooine).
His drive gives him impetuous stutter steps in the academy, as inferred by Gary Mitchell in the TOS pilot.
There is a ruthless side to him as well (Kobayashi Maru performance) and Carol Marcus has maintained that he was “no boy scout”.
I’ve always believed his bravado masked a self doubt, remember McCoy’s pep talk in “The Ultimate Computer”.
He hates the idea of growing old and not making a difference, even his prophetic if not quite accurate statement about dying alone betrays a reluctance to be vulnerable in the company of others.
These established details make for a very interesting character study, and it’s exciting to believe we may see it’s origins.
I hope Pine pulls it off, I’m rooting for him, because I really like this character and for better or for worse, we are just at a point in the time space continuum where it is beyond credibility to see William Shatner show the origins of what he has so greatly established as one of the most enduring characters in popular culture.
So let’s strap in and see what’s next…
the Kirk adventure is only beginning…
Makes senses that we see these characters at a different point in their lives, when their personalities were evolving. Before major events shaped their lives and perspectives.
Experiences in my 20’s and early 30’s shaped who I am at the age of 40. My core is the same, but I am more at peace with myself, more accepting of things about myself and the world around me on one level — yet more determined and focused about other things on another level.
That’s wisdom. Something that only comes with some time to live and experience the joys and sorrows of life.
So, for it to be real, I would expect Kirk and Spock et al. to be different in this movie. If they are the same characters just played by different people, then that would say that the characters never grew throughout their adulthood.
I’m guessing, of course, but I think he may be “damaged” more like Batman Begins than Star Wars. In Batman, the destiny that the main charicter had to reach was as a hero, not a villian. Anakin never got over his past, and it destroyed him. (And since the actors they cast couldn’t really do tragedy that well, it wasn’t very good.) But we know Kirk will be a hero, so I think this movie will be about moving beyond Iowa and embracing his destiny.
Personally, I don’t think STV is the stinker that everyone makes it out to be, and is in some ways one of the most spiritually mature of the “Trek” films. I always loved the part where Kirk tells Sybok that he chooses to keep his pain because that is what makes him who he is. That is a big key to and insight into Kirk’s persona.
# 24 A Appearance from Finnigan and props to Lord Garth would be excellent too.