I don’t want to say or excerpt too much of Chris Pine’s new profile in Esquire because when a celebrity profile is this good, it does it a disservice to not enjoy it in its entirety. The piece was written by Alex Pappademas and it is so well observed and insightful, also funny, it belongs on the list of the best of the artform. This is an artform whose demise was prematurely predicted – but in recent years, outstanding writers like Alex Pappademas and Hunter Harris and Allison P. Davis and Taffy Brodesser-Akner have consistently come through as profile crusaders, their work becoming the best defence of a tradition vital to the celebrity ecosystem. Because even celebrities and their representatives must appreciate at this point the value of being featured in the kind of celebrity profile that these writers can produce: it is an asset to promotion.
Chris Pine is currently promoting Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves, due out later this month, and his directorial debut, Poolman, in which he also stars and co-wrote. This, no doubt, is the most ambitious phase of Chris’s career as he joins another potential blockbuster franchise but also establishes himself alongside the likes of Ben Affleck, Bradley Cooper, George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Elizabeth Banks all of whom act, write, and direct their own projects. The comparison Alex Pappademas offers in his piece, though, is Robert Redford …and it’s a good one, if Chris Pine can live up to the potential.
That’s what the profile attempts to do: establish the potential. We hear from people like Patty Jenkins who directed Chris in the Wonder Woman movies and has become a frequent collaborator. She talks about her reaction to reading the Poolman script for the first time, calling it a “f-cking masterpiece”. Danny DeVito, who also stars in the Poolman, actually evokes Orson Welles when asked to comment on being directed by Chris. Annette Bening, who is rarely out here in these streets just co-signing randoms, adds that Chris’s acting experience is what gives him his director’s touch. And remember who she’s married to – Warren Beatty is also an actor, writer, director, so she knows something about what she’s saying.
But how did Chris Pine get to this point? Duana and I talked about this on the Show Your Work podcast a few years go, and we gave a lot of the credit to Patty Jenkins because after she cast Chris in Wonder Woman, she had to get real with him about his role in the story…which was to support the female lead. At first, he was admittedly resistant. It’s the ego, which all actors have to have to a certain extent. But basically Patty was like, this is not your story. But you can help make it a GREAT story – and if you serve the story, it works for everyone. And it worked for Chris going forward, because from that point, he was willing to be “emasculated”.
That’s the word that comes up in the Esquire profile when Dungeons & Dragons director John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein tell Alex Pappademas about what Chris brought to the project and his performance.
“When you’re that good-looking—I think a lot of actors have a discomfort level with letting themselves be the source of amusement for people at their expense,” Goldstein says. “But not Chris.”
“He embraces any moment where his character is emasculated,” Daley adds.”
Emasculated isn’t what this is, obviously. In fact, quite the opposite. Modern masculinity requires less ego, more willingness to be laughed at and to laugh together. When Chris Pine figured that out, he got hotter. And created more space for himself. Because of course ego can narrow opportunities. In releasing it, or at least that derivative version of it, the traditional Hollywood expectation of the leading male, Chris Pine found new creative inspiration. We learn in the profile that he doesn’t think that others in the industry have quite caught up to how much more he can do beyond the typecasting, but Poolman and Dungeons & Dragons are key steps in changing that perspective. And this profile helps with that, too.
His style. Never say style and clothing have no part in an artist’s career trajectory. Because Chris Pine’s professional pivot also happened concurrently with how he started presenting himself through fashion. Which he talks about in the interview – and there’s video of him assessing his looks over the last few years too. Chris Pine is dressing for fun. He’s working with a lot more fun. And it’s made all the difference.
Links to the full Esquire profile are below. It’s a great read, and the Don’t Worry Darling bits are the least interesting parts of the piece.