Unstoppable: Interview with actor Chris Pine

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Chris Pine stars in "Unstoppable," about a runaway train carrying a cargo of toxic chemicals. The film, directed by Tony Scott and also starring Denzel Washington, is being released by Twentieth Century Fox on November 12.

On his character Will


“Will’s journey is that of a selfish guy who wanted to find success on his own,” says Pine.  “He feels like he failed so there’s a lot of self-loathing going on.  That, coupled with pressure from his family, and an apprenticeship with resentful guys who make the job as difficult as possible, it just becomes a volcano.”


“When Will is thrown into this extraordinary situation, he has to decide whether to take charge, try to save these towns and be selfless,” says Pine.  “That’s what Frank really teaches him.  Will is so embroiled in his own internal battle that it takes an external situation to force him out of his own skin, to be active, to stop thinking about himself and do something for others, which is what actually ends up helping him in the end.


Lessons from a legend


Pine took the lessons presented by watching Washington work and stored them away for future use.  “Denzel pushes and pushes you to do a better job,” says Pine. “He’s complicated in all the best ways and he brings so much to the table that each take is different, each has a distinctive quality and if you’re present and paying attention, you can play off those nuances which gives the characters more depth.  Denzel’s the best at what he does, so I took my cues from him.”


The Train


“The train is also very representative of what’s happening in Will’s life,” adds Pine.  “In the beginning everything looks like it’s going well and suddenly everything falls apart faster and faster.”


Death defying stunts


“When you read a script, you forget that you actually have to do what’s written on the page,” says Pine.  “Whether that means that every scene you’re in takes place in the cab of a train, or whether your character jumps from the back of a truck driving 50 miles an hour onto a train that’s going even faster.”


In one harrowing scene, Will valiantly struggles to couple the knuckles of two moving cars while being pelted by a freight car full of grain. “My stunt double, Daniel Stevens, was incredible,” he says.  “He slipped the first time and had to use his upper body strength not to get dragged under the ballast, but he did it five times!”


In another scene, Pine was strapped into the bed of a pickup truck traveling along a road parallel to the track – simulating his stunt double’s jump from the truck onto the train.  Even though the production would not permit Pine to perform the actual stunt, he did have to climb onto a metal toolbox mounted in the bed and fake the jump. “I just had to trust the stunt driver and hang on for dear life,” he recalls.  “I had bugs and gnats in my face, and even though I’m only faking the jump, there’s the stress of knowing that Tony has 40 cameras going and a helicopter hovering overhead.  Of course I want to do a good job and play to the right camera, so there was a second there when I was catapulted off the back and thank goodness the harness caught me.”