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Tarantino’s Love for Chris Pine Resulted in a ‘Star Trek’ Script That Has ‘So Much Fun’ with Kirk

As if Tarantino's love for Chris Pine wasn't going to affect his R-rated "Star Trek" movie.

Chris Pine as Captain Kirk in "Star Trek Beyond"

Chris Pine as Captain Kirk in “Star Trek Beyond”

© Paramount Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

Quentin Tarantino started 2020 with an interview on The Ringer’s “Rewatchables” podcast in which he named Chris Pine “hands down” his favorite young actor working today, so it’s no surprise the director intended to have a total blast with Pine’s Captain Kirk in his R-rated “Star Trek” movie. Tarantino came up with an original idea for a “Star Trek” movie (he previously described the idea as an “earthbound” 1930s gangster movie) and worked with “The Revenant” screenwriter Mark L. Smith on the screenplay. In an interview with SFX Magazine, Smith teased the end results of his “Star Trek” collaboration with the “Pulp Fiction” icon.

“I wrote a ‘Star Trek’ with Tarantino, and that was a sci-fi script on which I could have fun and lean into some bigger, broader things,” Smith said. “Kirk is always just so fun. Tarantino and I had so much fun with him, because Kirk is just William Shatner, y’know? It’s like: you’re not sure who is who, so you can kinda lean into that. Because you watch Chris Pine and he’s playing Kirk, but he’s also playing William Shatner a touch.”

Tarantino has long said it was Pine’s performance as Captain Kirk that generated his interest in contributing to the “Star Trek” film franchise that began with J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot. As the director once told MTV, “I thought Chris Pine did a fantastic job not just playing Capt. Kirk but playing William Shatner’s captain — he is William Shatner. He’s not just another guy, he’s William Shatner’s Capt. Kirk. And Zachary Quinto is literally Leonard Nimoy’s — because they both have the same scene together — he’s his Spock. They fucking nail it. They just nail it.”

Smith worked on Tarantino’s “Star Trek” script while the director was on the promotional tour for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” While Tarantino said at the time of “Hollywood’s” release that he wasn’t ruling out directing the “Star Trek” movie himself, he has since confirmed it’s not likely he will be behind the camera. Paramount has yet to confirm where the “Star Trek” film franchise will go following the box office disappointment of “Star Trek Beyond.” Filmmakers like Tarantino and “Fargo” showrunner Noah Hawley have developed new “Trek” films, but the studio is taking a breather before deciding which route to take for the next movie.

Pine next reunites with Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot for “Wonder Woman 1984,” which one would imagine Tarantino will be seeing this Christmas. The director counts the Pine-starring thriller “Unstoppable” as one of his favorite films and even found a way to use Pine’s grandmother, Hollywood actress Anne Gwynne, in a scene in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Tarantino has yet to announce his 10th film project, but he will be releasing two novels beginning in 2021. Smith, meanwhile, wrote the script for George Clooney’s “The Midnight Sky,” streaming December 23 on Netflix.

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