Photograph by Michael Muller
Since Zachary Quinto was seen on the cover of Out last October, the actor/producer has starred in a critically acclaimed production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie—now Broadway-bound—slipped back into Spock’s pointy ears for the sequel to 2009’s hit Star Trek and produced, through his company Before the Door, three feature films, including All is Lost (starring Robert Redford), which will premiere this month at Cannes.
Just before he set off on a globe-trotting promotional tour for Star Trek: Into Darkness (in theaters May 17), we talked to Quinto about his surprise visit to Chris Pine’s cover shoot for Out's June issue, his perspective on the epic Kirk-Spock bromance, and what his good buddy Pine cares about even more than being a good actor.
Out: Did Chris come to you for any advice about being on our cover?
Zachary Quinto: It was a surprise to me! I had another photo shoot [in the same building] on the same day, and I saw when I came in what the studio assignments were. I was so psyched that he was doing it. Chris doesn’t need much advice how to be on the cover of anything, I don’t think.
What kind of a friend is Chris? What does he mean to you?
He is fiercely intelligent. He is endlessly curious about himself and the world around him. He is really compassionate. He is really reliable. Authentic. Loyal. Enormously talented. I have been very lucky to work with people by and large whom I would love to spend time with outside of work. The cast of Star Trek—and Chris in particular—really rank at the top of that list, because we all experienced something so profound and transformed as a result of that together. And to watch what Chris has done with that has really inspired me. I’m grateful to be his friend.
Do you get to spend time together outside of when you’re shooting or promoting a film?
We do. We actually have a lot of mutual friends. We have circle of friends that overlap, so we kind of knew each other before the movie a little bit. We met before we started shooting. There’s kind of six degrees of separation all around. We do run into each other. I’ll go to someone’s house for dinner and Chris will just be there, and I will have not necessarily known that I would run into him. We travel in similar circles. But then we also make plans together as friends when we’re both in L.A. But when we’re both in L.A. has kind of been a rarity lately. I look forward to the press tour and all of the activity that’s kicked up around the movie lately so we can reconnect and have another version of the experience.
What have you learned about Chris that you think would surprise people?
Umm. I would say… [Laughs] Many things. Many things that would surprise people. But ones that I would feel are appropriate to talk about… He has a really incredible eye for design. He’s been working on his house and doing this beautiful work, creating very interesting spaces with furniture configurations and pieces of art and landscaping. He’s really inspired me in terms of his relationship to creating a space in which he can find solitude.
Chris and I spent some time talking about what it means to be a modern male movie star. What kind of roles would you love to see him play?
He has an incredible range as an actor. That’s one thing that people might not always, might not be the first place their minds go [because of] that kind of classical American, good looking, charismatic leading man that Chris is. But his range as an actor is phenomenal. I’ve seen him do work on stage—and in other environments beside tentpole blockbuster franchise movies—that have blown me away, even more than just how blown away I am by working with him. I would love to see a diversity of opportunities for him moving forward. He’s got Jack Ryan coming out, he’s really building significant momentum, and I think this next Trek movie is going to be hopefully big. I feel like he really can do anything. I don’t say that about a lot of actors, and from working with him and watching him work, I think I would really most love for people to be able to know that and see him do whatever he wants to do, whatever parts of himself he wants to show.
He told me he thinks leading men have become really homogenized. How is Chris Pine different than those other guys?
We all have our struggle against that. Ultimately that is only within ourselves. That is something that every single actor at every level in the game, especially at this level of the game—which is ascending to the highest level. You’re going to be up against that, how you identify yourself and how other people identify you. And I think the thing about Chris is that he cares more about that first quality than the second. He really cares more about being a good person—as well as a good actor—and knowing that at the end of the day, you have to unplug from that comparison game, because it will absolutely drain you. And it will devour any possibility for endless depth. And I know that’s what he wants.
That’s maybe what sets him apart; but I don’t know what those [other] actors want. I don’t know all of them. I can only speak to the man that I know, and I know Chris first and foremost cares about digging deeper within himself, about being a good person and being a more authentic person and understanding himself more. That is impressive, and that is all that we can ask of ourselves. That will set him apart. That will set his journey apart, and that will set his work apart in the end.
Chris called Kirk and Spock together “like a dialectic of a human being.” Got any bigger words to describe it?
Kirk and Spock will infinitely come at things from diametrically opposed points of view. But they always meet in the middle, and that exploration between them—there’s so much there, there’s so much depth in that. It’s so much fun to dive into it. I love that he and I got to inherit that dynamic, which obviously pre-exists us thanks to Leonard [Nimoy] and Bill Shatner. It’s endlessly fascinating to me, and that’s why I think the characters and the story and the franchise are so enduring.
Can you give me three ways to describe the precise color blue of Chris’ eyes?
Cerulean. Bombay Sapphire. The deep end of the pool.