On Thursday, TNT announced their latest limited series: “One Day She’ll Darken,” a six-part series about the life of Fauna Hodel, the husband of infamous Black Dahlia murder suspect George Hodel.
While the casting of both Hodels is still unannounced, one key role has already been filled: Chris Pine will play Jay Singletary, a less-than-reputable reporter determined to find vindication in his stories on Hodel’s unclear past. It has all the makings of a juicy role, but Pine’s recent on-screen success in deferring to his counterparts proves he’s the ideal tool for this kind of story.
Last year, in an interview with IndieWire’s Eric Kohn, Pine said, “I have a romantic vision of the beautiful delineation between TV and film that existed for so many years. I romanticize the studio system and movie stars as a whole, but obviously that’s just anachronistic and probably a non-reality.”
The irony is that what’s made him such a comfortable film presence translates perfectly to the small screen. “One Day She’ll Darken” won’t be Pine’s first trip to TV. In just the last year, Pine’s had memorable stints on Netflix’s “Wet Hot American Summer” series and a “Saturday Night Live” hosting gig.
And earlier this year, Pine’s stint on “Angie Tribeca” showed that the actor was willing to shed the audience’s pre-conceived notions of what he brings to a part. Riffing on Hannibal Lecter, Pine makes the most of his time on screen, digging into that ambiguous accent and delivering character names like “Calvin Hobbes Sniglet” with an impossibly straight face. He savors each syllable of the show’s surreal expository dialogue, at one point pressing his nose up against the glass without missing a word.
Even though he’s an “Angie Tribeca” highlight, his bookending presence doesn’t cloud his episodes’ other strong points. The sight gags and wordplay still power the absurd New York investigation, complete with a solid running joke featuring Constance Zimmer as Angie’s doppelgänger. The story doesn’t come to a halt to sound the Pine Siren: He keeps everything humming along.
CBS FilmsIt’s a perfect example of the tricky mix of humility and commitment that being a member of a TV ensemble demands. Even though the tone of “One Day She’ll Darken” presumably will take a much different tack, it’s telling that Pine was able to seamlessly weave himself into the comedic rhythms of “Angie Tribeca” from frame one (where he’s standing on one leg, flamingo-style, and it somehow makes sense).
Pine’s recent role in “Wonder Woman” was also a refreshing turn that tossed in a dash of humor to the half of the comic-book movies universe usually short on laughs. Again, his willingness to cede center stage to his talented co-stars made for a better theatrical experience and best seeded the emotional payoff. It’s no coincidence then, that “One Day She’ll Darken” will reunite Pine and director Patty Jenkins for the pilot as the tone is set for the following episodes.
In the awards-season push that followed “Hell or High Water” last year, Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster took their share of attention. But Pine really is the pin that holds that modern western together. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the Statue of Liberty antics that he shows off in the “Angie Tribeca” prison cell, his stoic stare-down with Bridges’ Ranger Hamilton in the film’s coda helps wrap up the parallel journeys of family and country.
All of these roles cut against his spin on the Captain Kirk character that brought him to prominence. As Kirk, he’s the headliner, but his many other projects prove that he doesn’t need to be. It’s the kind of versatility a show needs, period, but especially in an investigator-type who’s down on his luck and struggling with the psychological ramifications of tracking a killer down the rabbit hole.
Time will tell how he show uses his strengths to its advantage, but they’ve taken a solid first step by bringing him on board.