‘Star Trek Into Darkness’: Pine, Quinto on film’s real-world parallels

April 26, 2013 | 6:00 a.m.
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Actors Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto play Kirk and Spock in the new movie "Star Trek Into Darkness." (Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times)

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Zachary Quinto, left, as Spock and Chris Pine as Kirk in "Star Trek Into Darkness." (Paramount)

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Chris Pine, left, as Kirk, Zoe Saldana as Uhura and Zachary Quinto as Spock in "Star Trek Into Darkness." (Paramount)

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Zachary Quinto, left, as Spock and Chris Pine as Kirk in "Star Trek Into Darkness." (Paramount)

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Chris Pine, left, Zachary Quinto and director J.J. Abrams on the set of "Star Trek Into Darkness." (Zade Rosenthal/ Paramount)

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Chris Pine, left, director J.J. Abrams and Zachary Quinto arrive at the Australian premiere of "Star Trek Into Darkness" in Sydney on April 23. (Marianna Massey/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures International)

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Chris Pine, left, and Zachary Quinto play Kirk and Spock, respectively, in the new movie "Star Trek Into Darkness." (Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times)

“Star Trek” has always been about more than a spaceship crew hurtling through the cosmos — over the decades, the sci-fi series in all its forms has tackled earthly issues such as race, gender and the Vietnam War.

When it comes to shining a spotlight on contemporary conflicts, the film and television franchise’s newest entry, the movie “Star Trek Into Darkness,” is no exception.

Directed by J.J. Abrams and written by Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof and Roberto Orci, “Into Darkness,” which opens May 17, sees the return of Capt. Kirk (Chris Pine), Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the rest of the USS Enterprise crew, as they face a new villain, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch).

As with so much in the fictional worlds Abrams creates (“Lost,” “Super 8”), many details around the movie have been cloaked in mystery, including the true identity of Cumberbatch’s character. But on a breezy afternoon in March, on the roof of a Hollywood photo studio, Pine and Quinto shared insight into John Harrison — and the movie’s present-day parallels.

“This film is about earthbound terror,” said Pine, speaking weeks before the real-life bombing at the Boston Marathon. “It’s about terrorism, about issues we as human beings in 2013 deal with every day, about the exploitation of fear to take advantage of a population, about physical violence and destruction but also psychological manipulation. John Harrison is a terrorist in the mold of those we’ve become accustomed to in this day and age.”

Much of the humanity in Abrams’ 2009 “Star Trek” origins movie, which was the 11th film in the franchise, came from the rivalry and ultimately the friendship that developed between reckless young Kirk and analytical young Spock.

The new film from Paramount Pictures is rich with action — Kirk and Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban) race through fields of scarlet foliage, a Starfleet ship rises from the ocean, Spock descends into an erupting volcano.

“You can’t even imagine how elaborate this set was,” Quinto said of the volcano scene, for which he wore a cumbersome suit. “Lava rocks, smoke, fire machines, sparks. I had to communicate with a speaker inside my helmet…. It was meditative in a way. I got real quiet and real still.”

But apart from the action, the movie is again rooted in its well-defined characters, Quinto noted.

“In this movie, Kirk really needs to learn how to be a captain, not just sit in the captain’s chair, and Spock needs to learn how to be a friend, not just be accountable and reliable and responsible,” Quinto said. “In the first movie, it was about all of us coming together, unifying to defeat an enemy. This movie is more about the way an enemy splits us apart. We have to divide in order to conquer in this film.”

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In conversation, Pine and Quinto share an easy affinity — when Pine noted that they had been able to avoid being typecast despite playing such memorable characters, Quinto raised his eyebrows. “This from the guy who doesn’t have to wear pointy ears,” he said.

Over the years, Pine and Quinto’s off-screen friendship has helped them establish an on-screen rapport — the two met before they were cast in “Star Trek,” at an event writer-producer Norman Lear organized to showcase his copy of the Declaration of Independence.

“I remember feeling, as I got to know Chris more, so impressed by his intelligence, which isn’t always the case with such a traditional leading man,” Quinto said. “I remember being pleasantly, not surprised, but …”

“You thought I was just a dumb blond,” Pine interrupted. “Actually, I have many more Spockian qualities than I do Kirkian qualities. We were two peas in a pod,” he said of Quinto, “in that we think about things way more than we should. We analyze.”

— Rebecca Keegan

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex


Zoe Saldana as Nyota Uhura in a poster for "Star Trek Into Darkness." (Paramount Pictures)

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16 Responses to ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’: Pine, Quinto on film’s real-world parallels

  1. John Bigbooté says:

    He’s not a “new villain”, he’s Khan.

    And it just gets worse from there.

    • Allan says:

      Is it really Khan? I heard that it was definitely not.

    • @kannbrown says:

      Nothing I've seen in the promos, the trailers, or the interviews indicates that. If it WAS Khan, they have re-written his character and plot so much that it might as well be a new character. (Remembering, as so few people seem to, that if it WAS Khan, it'd be 'Space Seed' Khan, not 'The Wrath of Khan' era, and therefore, has not one reason to BE 'wrathful' toward Kirk, a man born decades after Khan and crew became Popsicles in a shuttle. )

      • Bart3000 says:

        It is Khan. It's been confirmed. and he doesn't need to be "Wrathing" around to be a correct Khan or not. He's still the same super human, super intelligent, super strong, powerful leader character — Even stealing a ship to inflict his destruction.

        He's Khan.

  2. stefanog says:

    i confirm that the villain is Khan. i spoke with an australian guy who wached the premiere in Sidney…

  3. robjira says:

    One of the newer trailers suggests the villain is someone from a Starfleet intelligence outfit, which has led some to wonder whether it might be Fleet Captain Garth of Izar (TOS episode "Whom Gods Destroy"), which would be an excellent idea.
    Counting down to opening day.

  4. Bill says:

    Everything is teal and orange. :(

  5. Graham says:

    What a transition fron the original B&W TV show with the rinky-dink, space ship helm, controls, and all looking like cardboard and items in the bins from home depot. Funny, no matter–I still love Star Trek, from if it was way back— to all the startling visuals of now. Love the 2009 movie and am all psyched for the upcoming. new movie . They cast it well– That is the magic!!

    • Rita says:

      Original series was never aired in B&W. I know because I was a Trekki from day one. Any episode in b&w was because it was seen on a b&w televison.

    • Rita says:

      I've been a Trekki since the very first episode and there has never been a b&w episode of Star Trek. Only color episodes on b&w tvs

  6. Roy says:


  7. cadettssk says:

    It Kahn't be. No kill I. No more violence. Please.

  8. joel says:

    it will be a great movie to go see and a great day to call in sick from work to go see it.

  9. Emmanuel Quaye says:

    What a great movie.. Shows the origin of khan ..

  10. Guest Writer says:

    Parallels with modern-day terr0rism, if that was an intention of the producers/ writers, are erroneous at best. A superhuman, supersmart Khan with a superiority complex.. compared with the cave-dwelling, weak-kidneyed civil engineer Osama BL? Granted, OBL worked in parallel with Western (Federation?) interests for a time (in Afghanistan), then became (in spite of himself mostly) a figurehead of resistance against Westerners, but he was neither a mastermind, nor superhuman or supersmart, nor even a proven terr0rist (the only 'evidence' against him having always been the mere say-so of Western leaders & some videos calling for an end to Western interference in the M East, i.e. nothing that would constitute a case in a law court). The Federation certainly doesn't represent the US or a US-led federation (UN type organisation) because the US & its traditional allies (neo-imperialist partners) are worse even than Klingons. Klingons, at least, do not put on a show of civilised motives & intents when they invade, rob & destroy a people.

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