A Minute With: Zachary Quinto on 'Star Trek,' Spock and coming out

LOS ANGELES Wed May 15, 2013 10:18am EDT

Actor Zachary Quinto, cast member of the new film ''Star Trek Into Darkness'', poses as he arrives at the film's premiere in Hollywood May 14, 2013. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

Actor Zachary Quinto, cast member of the new film ''Star Trek Into Darkness'', poses as he arrives at the film's premiere in Hollywood May 14, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Zachary Quinto has transitioned swiftly from a television villain into an unlikely action film star in J.J Abrams' rebooted "Star Trek" franchise, playing the series' most recognizable half-Vulcan, Spock.

The 35-year-old actor, who gained fame as super-villain Sylar in sci-fi television series "Heroes," will reprise his role as the pointy-eared first officer of the starship Enterprise in "Star Trek Into Darkness," which will be released in theaters on Friday.

The actor spoke to Reuters about the challenges of playing Spock and why he chose to go public about being gay.

Q: "Star Trek Into Darkness" has more action, set pieces and destinations than the 2009 reboot. Is that right?

A: You're right. It's a larger scale version of the "Star Trek" story. The first one was about re-conceiving people's perceptions of "Star Trek," and trying to infuse it with new energy. The self-contained and more intimate nature of that film made sense. Now, people are more familiar with us as these characters so this movie builds on that and expands on it.

Q: What is Spock struggling with in this film?

A: I think he's learning how to be accountable and responsible to the people he loves and cares about. He is learning to embody and live the qualities of what it means to be a friend and what it means to be responsible to other people emotionally, because that's not the place from which he leads. He needs to learn how to integrate that part of himself and honor the feelings he has for the people he loves.

Q: What do you learn from Spock on a personal level?

A: I have an inherent understanding to his nature, which is one of duality - the head versus the heart. That is certainly something I can relate to. As someone who has been considered pretty intellectual and wordy, I also have a deep well of emotional life. I understand what it means to be in constant relationship to both of those aspects of myself.

Q: Which of Spock's qualities do you aspire for yourself?

A: The equanimity with which he deals with every situation in front of him, and the thoughtfulness and care he gives to measure his reactions. Sometimes I can be a little extreme in my reaction to something. I respect his reservedness and pensive consideration, which is an aspect of me but outweighed by my instinctual or impulsive reactions to things sometimes.

Q: In this film you're jumping into volcanoes and off of barges. You're fighting, running, chasing. Did you ever think of yourself as an action star?

A: I can't say I ever planned on that. But I will say I really thrived in that environment. I enjoyed those specific challenges and the relentlessness of it. I don't necessarily know I want every movie to be that way, but I wouldn't mind revisiting that again at some point down the line.

Q: How close are you with the cast?

A: We are very, very good friends in real life. When the first movie happened, it was a life changing experience for all of us. We were going through it at the same time and relied on each other for support and for the excitement of that time. That energy is starting to kick back up again. We look forward to spending time together on these extended periods where we're traveling around the world.

Q: You used your "Star Trek" clout to form a production company, Before the Door Pictures, whose first film, 2011's "Margin Call," was nominated for a best screenplay Oscar. Did that change things for you?

A: I think "Margin Call" did similar things for my production company that "Star Trek" did for me as an actor. The way that film was received really did authenticate my company and allowed us more access and more connections than we might have had otherwise.

Q: In between the two "Star Trek" films, you made some headlines when you said you were gay. Was coming out a big deal?

A: It was obviously a very big deal. It wasn't about formality or stopping rumors because I don't really pay attention to rumors in the first place. It was a very specific move that I made because there was a rash of teen suicides at the time (the victims were gay).

Q: How did that relate to you?

A: I felt it incumbent upon me to do something about that if it was in my power, which is was. So for me that was a very specific and emotional time. I felt very grateful for the response that it generated and the work on behalf of the LGBT community it has allowed me to do subsequently.

Q: Some actors feel that by coming out it could impact the roles they get to play. Did you feel it hindered your career?

A: Not one bit.

(Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy, Patricia Reaney and Vicki Allen)

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Comments (5)
TEEPLE wrote:
Zachary Quinto is awesome – great actor and strong character for coming out. Great!

May 15, 2013 12:12pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
paintcan wrote:
I was a little disappointed. I thought the title of the article meant Spock had finally “come out”.

But now that I think about the series, I recall that Spock couldn’t really stand sexual urges at all and that’s why he was so “cerebral”. Going gay would be much too much for him, accept that his relationship with Kirk was very nearly a marriage. Kirk was the “active” and Spock was the “passive”. Kirk was always single on the TV series and only had a heterosexual life in subsequent movies.

I think Freud would have said that both men were “ideal” homosexuals or had an ideal relationship, like Leonardo da Vinci? Freud didn’t say the same thing about Michelangelo, so maybe Michelangelo played around with his staff and the aristocracy? Michelangelo didn’t like the female form at all and all the women in his paintings were really men with tack on breasts.

I shouldn’t be so glib. Maybe another sequel and Mr. Spock will have new surprises? The doctor on one of the spin offs was the most obviously gay(ish) man ever on the series and he was a comfort, actually. He made it look so normal and he was not ridiculous.

May 15, 2013 2:06pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
paintcan, what were you watching? Perhaps if you had watched. or paid attention, to the original television series you’d know that Spock’s mating periods come every seven years and it is known as Pon Farr. It is both a psychological and physical condition that all Vulcan must go endure every seven years. As for Kirk, he was womanizing every chance he got. His womanizing ways were so legend that it was use on Star Trek: The Wrath Of Khan when he finally met his son. He also had an attraction in Star Trek: The Voyage Home when he met a woman from the 20th century who wanted to explore space so no relationship. And Dr. McCoy had several flings and a meeting with a past love in the original television series. When the feature films began he was already an older Dr. McCoy but he still had some of his libido still cranking.

As far as the new Star Trek series is concerned these clowns didn’t bother to pay homage to the foundation laid out in the original series. For example, Kirk never met Spock in the Space Academy, or Uhuru or Scotty for that matter, although, did know Dr. McCoy. And, there is a direct reference to the fact that the Federation had no contact with the Romulans and no idea who the Romulans were during Kirk’s time at the Space Academy. Who the Romulans were didn’t come into question until will into Kirk’s first tour as Captain of the Enterprise.

As J J Abrams put it (paraphrase moment) our version of Star Trek is from some parallel universe where all of this is true. That’s right, J J Abrams took the Star Trek franchise and mode up his own rules and managed to sell it to Paramount. After seeing the trailers for the Abrams’ first Star Trek I decided to pass and wait for the video. I rented it and, after 20 minutes, I returned it. I have no plans to see the sequel because the trailer indicates the this faux Star Trek is even further out there then the first. Spock and Uhuru kiss, oh please…

May 15, 2013 9:11pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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