Everyone loves a good “roots” movie — the story behind the story. Films like “Batman Begins” take viewers to the earliest, most pivotal moments in the lives of film’s iconic figures. These films elucidate the mystery surrounding the characters and their actions. With the new film “Star Trek,” audiences will finally be able to see the beginnings of arguably the two most recognized names in science fiction: Captain James T. Kirk and Spock.
In the “Star Trek” TV show, Captain Kirk and Spock were the commanders of the USS Enterprise, a sophisticated and advanced spaceship that navigated the universe. While the trials and tribulations overcome by Kirk and Spock in their journey to go “where no man has gone before” were an important part of the show, the two characters’ vastly differing personalities and their underlying rivalry forged a friendship that was much of what made the “Star Trek” experience a memorable one. In the new movie, the teenage Kirk is played by Chris Pine (“Smokin’ Aces”) and the young Spock is played by Zachary Quinto (TV’s “Heroes”).
“It wasn’t like I had a sheet of Shatnerian characteristics that I wanted to keep,” Pine said in a phone interview, referencing William Shatner’s legendary portrayal of Kirk on the TV show. “It was more about really paying attention to the script I was given and making sure I did my best to bring that character … to life.”
While it’s troubling at first to hear that the new Kirk may not be the bold, rash leader so many TV buffs and sci-fi swamis are familiar with, Pine quickly added that, yes, the movie script retained many of Kirk’s familiar characteristics. But also that Kirk remains a young man searching for his place in history.
“It’s a time we get to see this character before he becomes the confident commander of the later years,” Pine said. “He’s a bit more brash and arrogant and young essentially, but I think his journey is to learn how to mold this kind of angry energy into more of a polished commander, leader of men.”
Kirk is indeed a natural-born leader, but he tends to rush into situations instinctively when swept up in the moment. His First Officer Spock, on the other hand, is a completely different story. He is half human and half Vulcan, a species that discarded their emotions to be able to assess problems more rationally and clearly. Spock’s internal quarrel — between the emotional human and the distant Vulcan — is one of the focal points of the “Star Trek” series.
“My version of Spock is more unsettled,” Quinto said. “He is less in control of the duality of the goodness within him. He is much more in conflict.”
Quinto continued, “I think he is struggling with a lot of deeply felt emotions: passion, fear, anger. The core struggle for me was containing all of that — containing all this deeply felt stuff and not really being able to express it so humanly. It was a really fascinating challenge.”
Because the two men’s fates intertwine on one galactic spaceship, Kirk and Spock obviously butt heads when it comes to the matter of how to tackle a problem. The dynamic between Kirk and Spock is helped by the fact that Pine and Quinto knew each other beforehand. They grew up in the same L.A. neighborhood.
Much of the focus of “Star Trek” is establishing the relationship between Kirk and Spock. If the movie can at least successfully translate their quirky-yet-resolute friendship from the TV series to the big-screen, “Star Trek” is bound for fame and a direction no movie has gone before.