People Like Us - from blockbusters to intimate family dramaJune 27, 2012 @ 3:29 pm (Updated: 4:41 pm - 6/27/12 )
When you've written the billion-dollar franchise Transformers movies and the hugely successful reboot of the Star Trek franchise, what are you going to do when you finally get to direct?
Well, you snag your Star Trek star, Chris Pine, and then ... you go small, of course.
Screenwriter Alex Kurtzman says he's not turning his back completely on blockbuster movies. He says he loves the way those films appeal to the inner child in all of us. "But there's also a part of me, and a part of a lot of people who like to see themselves reflected on the screen, to see their lives validated, to feel something."
And that's why Kurtzman made the film "People Like Us," about a young man who finds out his father had a secret family he never knew about, a situation somewhat similar to Kurtzman's own life. His Dad left his first wife and family to start a new family with a woman who became Alex's mom. His Dad's other family wasn't kept a secret from him but he says it still gave him quite a jolt when his half-sister unexpectedly introduced herself for the first time at a party. Kurtzman spins that sense of psychological imbalance into a full-length drama.
Thanks to Kurtzman's winning script for "Star Trek," Chris Pine, who played Captain Kirk, was happy to sign on to this more personal film, something very different from his action blockbusters like "Star Trek" and the runaway train movie "Unstoppable."
Pine says the contrast with his tentpole movies was remarkable ... in a good way. When you're doing big budget action movies, Pine says "a lot of the work takes care of itself, like the special effects and the action sequences, so as an actor, there's a lot you don't have control over."
Instead of dealing with a crew of as many as 300 people, Pine says the small number of people on the set for "People Like Us" made it feel more like a family. The set became comfortable place for him to try to do his best work as an actor. Pine says, "I enjoyed that kind of intimacy. "
And does Pine thinks he "acts" differently when he's making a tentpole movie as opposed to a more intimate film? Most definitely. He says the reason movies like "The Avengers" are so successful is because they're telling mythic stories, and mythic stories use very fundamental, archetypal characters. An actor has to take on those broad characteristics in order to fulfill the requirements of a particular role - the leading man/hero, the reluctant hero, the ordinary man facing extraordinary circumstances, the villain.
As fun as those roles are, Pine says they do tend to limit an actor's choices and range. In a film like "People Like Us," on the other hand, Pine says he "definitely feels like there's more room to explore the nuances of character that perhaps you have to shave off when you're doing the bigger things."
Nonetheless, Pine says he is looking forward to the release of the next Star Trek movie which has just been announced for Memorial Day weekend 2013. He and Kurtzman can't say much about it other than to say, "It's relentless."
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