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‘Star Trek’ launches Chris Pine to stardom

By Nestor Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:54:00 05/15/2009

Filed Under: Cinema, Entertainment (general)

MANILA, Philippines?The ?Star Trek? prequel is not only a big hit, but it?s also made a new star of its lead player, Chris Pine, who?s had the distinct good fortune of being tapped to play the plum role of the U.S.S. Enterprise starship?s young captain, James T. Kirk.

The role is one of the film season?s most coveted assignments, because it builds on William Shatner?s portrayal of the heroic captain in his mature years. Having delighted televiewers for decades, the ?Star Trek? franchise?s move to the big screen is a major film event, the success of which is sure to rub off on its young cast, with Pine as its most prominent beneficiary.

Luminaries

How did the 29-year-old actor finally get his big break? Very definitely, he was no overnight discovery. In fact, he can even be described as having been born with the proverbial silver spoon of show business in his mouth: Both of his parents, Robert Pine and Gwynne Gilford, were actors, and even his grandparents on his mother?s side, Max M. Gilford and Anne Gwynne, were Hollywood luminaries.

So, it was no surprise when Chris decided to follow in their footsteps. His first role was in a 2003 episode of ?E.R.,? and he quickly followed up with appearances on ?The Guardian? and ?CSI Miami.? The following year, he played Anne Hathaway?s cinematic boyfriend in ?The Princess Diaries, 2.?

After a good break like that, you?d think that Pine woul zoom up to stardom. But, he had to bide his time with more TV roles (in ?Six Feet Under,? etc.), plus some short films (?Why Germany,? ?The Bulls?) and an indie movie, ?Confession.?

In 2006, Pine appeared in the TV movie, ?Surrender Dorothy? and in ?Just My Luck,? a Lindsay Lohan starrer. More movies followed (?Blind Dating,? ?Smokin? Ashes?), but big-time stardom continued to elude Pine?until J.J. Abrams tapped him to play Captain Kirk in the current ?Star Trek? blockbuster.

What clinched the deal for him? As far as looks go, his aren?t all that perfect and photogenic. But, that ?limitation? could in fact be part of Pine?s appeal: He comes across as more real and accessible, and movie fans like that.

In addition, his mix of tough-guy street smarts and sensitivity is a winning combination that keeps his portrayal fresh and surprising. Topping the entire package is Pine?s great sense of humor, which ?Star Trek? takes full advantage of to lighten its relentless series of big-bang action and battle scenes.

This early, Pine?s ?Star Trek? success has resulted in other major roles in upcoming productions like ?The Green Lantern,? ?Quantum Quest,? ?Small Town Saturday Night? and ?Carriers.? Clearly, Chris Pine is here to stay.

Another major beneficiary of ?Star Trek?s? strong showing at the tills is John Cho, the South Korean actor-singer who?s cast as Hikaru Sulu, the only Asian member of the USS Enterprise?s courageous crew of space explorers.

More visible

Cho?s character is more visible than most, because he figures strongly in a key sequence in which he engages in a flashy swordfight with a number of burly alien villains.

A look at Cho?s TV-movie credits inform us that his biggest role was as Harold Lee in ?Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle,? ?Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay? and ?Harold and Kumar Go To Amsterdam.? His role in ?Star Trek? may not be as stellar, but the sci-fi production is bigger, so it?s given Cho?s career a major boost.



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