LOS ANGELES- You loved him as Captain Kirk in the reimagined Star Trek movies. Now Chris Pine will have you addicted to Tom Clancy's books with his latest action flick, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.
The movie is a reboot to the spy franchise based on the popular character created by the best-selling author.
Pine has the big responsibilty of redefining the iconic US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst-turned-spy, one who was immortalised on the silver screen by Harrison Ford (Patriot Games and Clear And Present Danger), Alec Baldwin (The Hunt For Red October) and Ben Affleck (The Sum Of All Fears).
"I thought it was great casting to have Chris play Jack Ryan," said director Kenneth Branagh, 53.
"I'd seen his Star Trek films and thought he was fantastic in them, but I also knew his work from elsewhere and thought he'll really bring a new fullness to the character."
Added the British film-maker: "We both like how Harrison Ford's portrayal was this ordinary guy out of his depth, and liked Alec Baldwin's sharp cheekiness as well as Ben Affleck's sensitivity.
"Chris provided all of those traits and translated them in a fresh way. He's a fearless actor and is unafraid to be bold with parts."
Besides being at the helm, Branagh also plays the movie's antagonist Viktor Cherevin.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, which opens here tomorrow, also stars Kevin Costner as Ryan's mentor William Harper and Keira Knightley as his love interest Cathy.
Pine saw a chance to create a more down-to-earth view of Ryan. He loved the idea of allowing viewers the chance to see the character's uncertainty, fear and disbelief as he underwent his initiation into the hazards of working as a CIA agent.
"I really enjoyed how Jack Ryan is this reluctant and selfless hero," the dashing actor admitted to the international journalists at the swanky Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills last week.
Clearly enamoured of his new alter ego, the 33-year-old Californian gushed about how "(Jack) is super smart and could have just ended up with a well-paying job, but he decides to go and selflessly serve his country for no other reason than being compelled to do the right thing".
Despite being a fan of the series, Pine didn't go back to the previous flicks to pick apart other actors' portrayals of Jack Ryan.
Instead, he focused his research on getting to know war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder in England at a rehabilitation centre.
"Even though it's a minor theme in the film, for me it was big developmentally for Jack. I wish it was a bigger part in the film," said Pine.
"Being in war and surviving a violent crash really did something to him mentally and affected his character."
Pine got ready for his character by touring the London School of Economics and diving into the mechanics of banking, trading and derivatives. He even got to know a real-life Compliance Officer, which is Ryan's cover-up job.
Having established himself as an action guy in Hollywood, Pine spoke about how Branagh kept asking him to scale back his "over-the-top action performances".
"Kenneth would always be telling me to do less," he said.
"I'm so used to playing bigger characters - that's my comfort zone - and he kept chopping me down, asking me to do less."
Although Pine seems a natural at action flicks, he confessed he "is not that brave in real life".
"I get to make these films and pretend I'm super badass and that's great. But I also think diving into the human psyche and behaviour is fun.
"You can really learn a lot about yourself with these different parts.
"You kind of create a story of your life with the parts you choose, which can be interesting."
Who's the best Jack?
Jack Ryan isn't exactly James Bond, but they do have one thing in common - both have been played by lots of different guys.
Since 1990, four different dudes have played the spy in five different movies. Who's the best? Who's the worst?
1 HARRISON FORD
Ford is the only actor so far to play Jack Ryan twice - in Patriot Games (1992) and Clear And Present Danger (1994).
Ford is perfectly cast as the hypercompetent but rather humourless CIA spy.
Whether battling the Irish Republican Army or a rogue faction of his own government, there is absolutely no question he'll get the job done.
2 CHRIS PINE
If you're cool enough to pull of Captain James T. Kirk, then you're absolutely cool enough to play Jack Ryan.
The thing about Pine is that he adds glamour to the character and franchise. He almost comes across like an American Bond - sexy, smart and sporty.
In fact, he's more Bond than the current Bond, the craggy Daniel Craig.
3 ALEC BALDWIN
Baldwin made the first Jack Ryan movie, The Hunt For Red October, way back in 1990. He wasn't a big weirdo back then, but a lean and hungry young actor still looking for a breakout role.
While he is fine as Ryan, he ended up being completely overshadowed by Sean Connery, who played the Russian submarine commander.
4 BEN AFFLECK
The Sum Of All Fears (2002) is about as mediocre as a spy thriller can get, and Affleck is perfectly mediocre in it.
He looks like a dopey frat boy rather than a sophisticated spy. You never quite buy him in the role.
Would you trust Affleck to save us all from Armageddon?
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