From Captain Kirk to the face of Armani – how Chris Pine made it to the A-list

Captain Kirk, politics, tackling Irish accents and life as the face of Armani fragrance – there was a lot to talk about when Annmarie O’Connor met Chris Pine in London.

Blue eyes. Really really blue eyes. That’s what strikes me when I meet actor Chris Pine at London’s Soho Hotel.

The Hollywood heartthrob, known to most for his role as Captain Kirk in the 2.0 Star Trek movie franchise, is in town as the face of Armani Code PROFUMO – the latest in the Armani Code fragrance range.

The slick campaign, which features a split-screen to reflect the brand’s two scent styles, features Pine perambulating a party in an Armani tux (the inspiration for the PROFUMO bottle).

Today, however, the LA native is decidedly off-duty in a sweater, slimline trousers and sockless brogues — a duality which interestingly plays out in our brief, albeit revealing, chat.

Reflective and deliberate, Pine in person is more earnest than his on-screen persona would suggest.

He may be shiny and all-American on the outside but internally, there’s a brooding sensibility at play.

I’m keen to talk accents. After all, he’s tackled a Galway lilt in Martin McDonagh’s award-winning play The Lieutenant of Inishmore (2010), not to mention the nuances of New England in The Finest Hours (released here in February).

What’s his process?

The 35-year old offers a respectful caveat when he learns I’m from Galway (he visited the Aran Islands on a day trip he confesses).

“The production took place in LA so the accent was more stage than authentic for the purposes of the audience.”

I’m sensing credibility is key for the actor who won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle’s lead appearance award for his part in the production.

This spills over into discussing his most recent role as crewman Bernie Webber in The Finest Hours — a historical disaster drama film based on the true story of a Coast Guard rescue attempt off the Cape Cod coast in 1952.

“The character is a version of a real person,” he tells me, “so the accent is really an extension of the soul.”

Wow. These waters clearly run deep.

Does he choose movie roles in the same way?

Is he intuitive or logical; head or gut when it comes to his career?

I’m faced with a considered pause before his well-crafted response.

“In Buddhism there’s a concept called the middle way.

“I like to try and follow this even though I would have have been raised to break down a question and look at it logically before making a decision.

“If you go more towards path A or more towards path B you are apt to go too far.

“The ideal is to create balance by finding the middle ground between the two.”

Clearly, it’s this balance which is reflected in a growing portfolio of roles from sci-fi to rom com; action to drama — a testament to his range.

His fanbase (known as ‘Pine Nuts’) have grown exponentially since assuming the role of Captain James T. Kirk in 2009.

Acting though is most definitely in the genes and the heart.

Pine’s father Robert co-starred on CHiPS as Sergeant Joseph Getraer; his mother and maternal grandmother were also actresses.

Lineage aside, Pine is most enthusiastic when discussing the intricacies of his craft.

Unsurprisingly, when asked about the elaborate costuming for the upcoming Wonder Woman film (due for release in 2017), he shows genuine praise for Oscar award-winning costume designer Lindy Hemming, known for her work on the Batman trilogy.

“Lindy did such a great job,” enthuses Pine.

“It’s such a big process. I learned so much about the language of clothing and the narrative it tells within the story from why a specific fabric was chosen to why it was chosen in a specific colour. 

"These details are so important. It’s not just costuming but hair and make-up; all aspects of production.”

Pine, who plays Steve Trevor — Wonder Woman’s love interest in the film — then has a full speed fashion moment about a Dunhill suit made specifically for his character (details of which are under wraps).

It’s appears craftsmanship is definitely his jam.

“I am very lucky,” he says of his success.

“I’ve worked very hard to get to where I am but I also know that there is no guarantee in this business that if you work hard you will find success.

“So something else is at play. I’m not sure what to call it but for now I’ll call it luck.”

Today though, he’s here to talk perfumes and scents.

“I’m attracted to certain smells independently; let’s say of their owner,” he says. 

“But a smell on a certain person can change the smell itself or can, in combination with the other senses, affect my perception of the person.

“Of course things happen in the blink of an eye but they happen nonetheless. A smell can bind itself to its wearer and the relationship they have is unique.”

He was thrilled, he says, to work with Armani.

“I was struck most by the breadth and extent of his work.

“You think, my god, this man has done all of this, and he started when he was 40! And he’s still going!

“He is an artist, first and foremost, and I have great appreciation for that.

“I really love his sensitivity. I never get a sense from him that he craves the limelight.

“I get the sense that he loves his work.

“That is his passion and that is his goal: to create.

“Even when he grabs your hand I feel that he is an artist who loves the tactile, the interaction between people, more than he does showing up and presenting himself at a party.”

But what else inspires him?

From films dealing with the ordinary every day hero to the female superhero; not to mention the members of the Starfleet, I’m curious to find who his personal hero is.

It throws me a bit when we start discussing politics and Bernie Sanders — the US presidential candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2016 election.

“I like what he represents,” he says, as an alternative to the jaded Washingtonian.

Does this make Pine an optimist? He pauses once more.

“I don’t know if I’m an optimist,” he muses.

“I definitely have an inner misanthrope.”

That said, the actor does have an eternal soft spot for old Blue Eyes.

“I am a huge Sinatra fan. My assistant knows that if I’m ever in a bad mood, she just needs to put on Sinatra,” he laughs.

Pine, by his own admission, is a die hard jazz fan.

He names off a lengthy laundry list of artists he loves: Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Benny Goodman, Dizzie Gillespie, Billie Holiday — to name but a few.

I tell him he should be in New Orleans right now celebrating Mardi Gras.

Then I backtrack with a much better counter offer.

“You should come to the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival this October.

“Consider it an open invitation.”

There you have it. 

Come autumn, should you spot a set of really blue eyes crooning to Old Blue Eyes in one of the city venues, you’ll know who to thank.

The latest addition to the Armani Code range, Code PROFUMO is inspired by the Giorgio Armani tuxedo; €54 30ml; €73 60ml, €88 110ml


© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Email Updates

Receive our lunchtime briefing straight to your inbox

More in this Section

Facebook, freedom, and the future

Emma documents cancer journey online to help others in similar situation

Online Lives: Meet fashion Snapchatter Rob Kenny

Appliance of Science: Why do we get hangry?


Lifestyle

Decoding craftsmanship at Cork event

Cork a Safe Harbour for a superb festival

Made in Cork: Tom Vaughan-Lawlor talks playing IRA man in Maze film

Making Cents: Getting your home to pay for your next holiday

More From The Irish Examiner