When we first met Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk in the 2009 reboot of Star Trek, he was a wild young man, motivated to join Starfleet almost out of spite. That’s all changed at the beginning of Star Trek Beyond, which finds Kirk in the middle of his five-year mission. “What he’s lost are those motivating factors that compelled him and propelled him in the beginning,” explains Pine. “He’s a man now. He’s raged. He’s done well. And then it’s like he says to himself: ‘And now what? If I don’t have these things propelling me, do I even want to be here, still?'”
“He’s lost the fire,” Pine continues. “And I totally know what that feels like.” Pine joined the blockbuster-movie class in his 20s, and his role in Star Trek led to action-guy parts in blockbuster-y movies. He fought a train with Denzel Washington in Unstoppable; he fought Tom Hardy for Reese Witherspoon in This Means War; he headlined the Jack Ryan reboot ;Shadow Recruit, and will play the soldier-boy love interest in next year’s Wonder Woman.
“When I was a younger actor, I was pretty much solely motivated by validation,” Pine explains. “I just wanted to be told I was good and handsome and a part of the gang. It was pretty simple animal-social stuff. I don’t care as much about those things anymore. Things have changed. I, like Kirk, have to find new things to compel and propel me into the future of my career.”
One of those new things arrives in August. In Hell or High Water, Pine plays a desperate man who embarks on a series of bank heists with his brother, played by Ben Foster. (Jeff Bridges is the lawman on their tail.) It’s a bold new kind of role for Pine, miles from the heroics of Star Trek and even the hero-cad type he played in Into the Woods. “The things that motivated me at 21 don’t suffice,” Pine says. “Which is scary, but really liberating in a way. It’s taken me a long time to feel like, instead of being invited to the party with a bunch of people I don’t know, that I actually deserve to be here.”
That doesn’t mean Pine’s beyond Star Trek. Far from it. “We’ve been around for a bit,” he says. “You get a chance to see how all these guys have aged. It’s been nice, instead of the reluctant boy-man hero, to be, like, ‘I’m a man now.'”
Star Trek Beyond is in theaters now. Hell or High Water opens Aug. 12.