‘I was interested in doing a film that was smaller scope than the films I had done previously,’ actor tells MTV News.
By Kevin P. Sullivan
Chris Pine and first-time director Alex Kurtzman have a few things in common. Both made names for themselves with large action movies like J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” and “Transformers” (Kurtzman as a writer and producer), and the upcoming film “People Like Us” marks a distinct change for both men.
“People Like Us” is the story of a young man who falls on hard financial times just as he learns that his recently deceased father has left a small fortune to a sister he doesn’t know.
MTV News spoke with Pine about the change of pace for him and what it was like working with co-star Elizabeth Banks.
MTV News: What was it that attracted you to the script originally?
Chris Pine: What attracted me to the film was just the quality of the writing. I was really interested in doing a film that was smaller scope than the films that I had done previously in the past couple years. This one was an intimate family drama, and I thought even the anomalous experience of someone finding out that their father had a completely separate family, everybody’s got family dramas of their own. Certainly, though I can’t relate to that specific experience, I can relate to having stuff in the family. This one takes place in the moment where all the stuff that’s been brewing for years and years and years finally comes to a head and has to be dealt with.
MTV: How does making the film’s central relationship a brother-sister one affect the overall movie?
Pine: Clearly it’s going to progress in a way that can’t be a love story between a sister and brother. It is in a sense that these two people get to know one another and find that they love one another because they’re the only two people that can relate and understand the experience of living in that family with that father and that mother. And because they’ve been so traumatized by the lies that their family has told for so many years, they find solace in one another’s mutual understanding. I think it’s refreshing because I don’t think people have seen something like this specific story in cinema before, at least in the States. There’s a quality of the film that kind of reminded me of one of my favorite films, “Kramer vs. Kramer,” and it kind of has the depth of something like “Ordinary People” and the humor of a comedy. It’s just — for the lack of a better term — very human.
MTV: Did it strike you as interesting that the film lacks the central romance that drives most dramas?
Pine: Not really because there are many stories in your own life that you lead that have nothing to do with a romantic other, whether it be work or dealing with your family. Oftentimes, many of the most pivotal stories that we play out in our own life don’t have anything to do with a girlfriend or a lover or a husband or a wife. That didn’t pose a problem for me because I thought that this was a story more about a man really becoming an authentic adult and learning how to deal honestly with those people in his life, his father and his mother and his girlfriend and his newfound sister.
MTV: With the relationship with Elizabeth Banks’ character being so central, what was your relationship with her like on set?
Pine: It was a pretty intense filmmaking experience. We had a lot of fun on set, and I love Elizabeth to death. She’s incredibly smart and doesn’t suffer fools. I appreciated her work ethic and just shooting the sh– on set. It was a film that demanded a lot of our attention and a lot of protecting our respective characters. I felt very protective of Sam. The piece, as it progresses forward, clearly because of the lies Sam tells along the way, there’s a lot of resentment from Elizabeth’s character. There were times when we would have these blowout discussions on set among Alex, myself and Elizabeth about what we felt the scene needed to be in the context of the arc of our characters.
MTV: Alex Kurtzman has said in the past how important this movie was to him. Was there a sense of that on the set?
Pine: From what Alex told me, this is a very important story that was very important for him to tell, and we both bonded over the fact that our careers had taken a particular path toward making larger films, while in our beginnings, we both thought we’d be making different kinds of films. It was nice to finally make one that we both really, really had a lot of investment in. Not that I don’t have investment in the films I do now — I’m saying it was nice to do something that we always wanted to make. I think it is exciting that Alex gets to show his fans that he is capable of doing a different kind of film entirely.
It’s Summer Movie Preview Week, and MTV News will be bringing you exclusive interviews, clips and photos for the most anticipated summer movies. Get ready to gorge on inside looks at “The Avengers,” Robert Pattinson’s “Bel Ami,” Kristen Stewart’s “Snow White,” “The Amazing Spider-Man” and more!