Zachary Quinto: Star Man

Zachary QuintoWhether he’s Mr Spock, a superhero or out and proud, everything’s coming together for Zachary Quinto, as Drew Turney learns.

Whether you like movies, TV or theatre, you’ve probably seen Zachary Quinto somewhere in the last few years. Looking like the love child of a sexy nerd and a hipster (and with the best qualities of both), the Pittsburgh native’s career has exploded recently, and his personal life and beliefs are driving him to even further success.

Quinto is of Irish and Italian descent, two races we commonly equate with fiery passion and conviction, but in person and most of his roles, he’s a picture of intelligent calm. One online profile of him lists two of his distinctive features as ‘often plays cold-hearted or unfeeling characters’ and ‘unique clipped manner of speaking’. Then there are the eyebrows above those dark, smoky eyes…

Anything clipped or unfeeling about the 35 year old was put to good use in entertainment’s most iconic unfeeling character, Star Trek’s Mr Spock – a role critics and audiences agreed Quinto pitched perfectly.

The underlying theme of the 2009 smash was the formation of the central friendship between Spock and Kirk, played by Chris Pine. Though Kirk is the figurehead of the Star Trek universe, Quinto played the far more interesting role of the two – Pine’s sandy, old Hollywood-style good looks, charm and boyish swagger are serviceable, but he just doesn’t have Quinto’s air of depth and mystery.

Today, he’s a long way from playing a gay Iranian American man in Tori Spelling’s short-lived So NoTORIous. After his star making turns in TV’s Heroes and Star Trek (both of which came within days of his 30th birthday), Quinto is currently attached to seven scripts. ‘Heroes,’ he said of the superhero series TV that made his name, ‘really changed the game for me in a way that nothing before it had’.

But it was his role as Spock that not only breathed vibrant new life into a tired old franchise, it launched Quinto figuratively as well as literally into orbit. At 2007 Comic-Con, he revealed that original Spock Leonard Nimoy had approval over the casting of his younger counterpart, and after giving his blessing (and appearing as Quinto’s older self on screen), he and Quinto became good friends.

An enduring love of theatre saw him play Much Ado About Nothing and land a dream role in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America (about America’s response to the AIDS crisis), and he’s attached to play George Gershwin in a long-gestating film biopic of the theatre maven (directed by Steven Spielberg). All this newfound clout and a nose for quality projects has seen Quinto branch out into much more dramatically challenging work like 2011’s Margin Call.

A $3.4m movie about the onset of the global financial crisis as seen from inside a high-flying investment bank, and shot at a breakneck pace, Margin Call might have been just any other small film but for the incredible cast Quinto headlined – Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons (whom the production only had access to for a single night), Paul Bettany, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci and Simon Baker.

But Zachary Quinto’s most important role was when he decided to come out publicly, posting to his blog on October 16, 2011 that he’d decided to reveal his authentic self to the world after doing so to his family ten years earlier.

Quinto had been deeply troubled by the suicide of US teenager Jamey Rodemeyer. Despite Rodemeyer’s work promoting tolerance that included an online video for the It Gets Better project, the 14-year-old took his own life after continual bullying, capturing the imagination and outrage of the American public.

Quinto told New York magazine Rodemeyer’s death changed him, and the words on his blog post were a mission statement as much as a call to action; ‘I believe in the power of intention to change the landscape of our society – and it is my intention to live an authentic life of compassion and integrity and action.’

The contradictory social and legislative signals in the US further inspired Quinto, telling Out magazine about a ‘tremendous disparity’. “You have the legalisation of gay marriage in the state of New York and three months later you have yet another gay teenager bullied into taking his own life,” he said.

After suspecting he was gay as early as fourth grade, Rodemeyer’s death made Quinto realise there were no more reasons not to show the world his true self. “Absolutely no good can come from me staying quiet about [my sexuality],” he told Out. “But if I make the acknowledgment and be honest, so much good could potentially come from it.”

Reaction to Quinto’s coming out was as swift as it was positive, the Twitterverse abuzz with comments like ‘Huge respect for @ZacharyQuinto’, ‘Congrats Zachary Quinto for actually having the b-lls to come out, since there’s so many in the industry scared to ruin their career’, and ‘Changing times. Thank you, @ZacharyQuinto, for your strength & honesty. It really does get better.’

Just a day after his blog post, while promoting Margin Call, Quinto told MTV News how grateful he was for the outpouring of support, which he called ‘universal and unanimous’. It had been a nerve-wracking few days for the star, who hadn’t told publicists, managers or colleagues about his announcement, going completely by gut feeling.

But despite the strong beliefs and activism that stems from his personal life, Quinto is notoriously tight lipped about his life away from the cameras. In a relationship with actor Jonathan Groff, Quinto has said he definitely wants children because he ‘wants to share’.

And after talking about his father’s premature death when he was seven in Out, it seems Quinto’s finally ready for family life. “I found myself in a pattern of being attracted to people who were somehow unavailable,” he said, “[I realised] I was protecting myself because I equated the idea of connection and love with trauma and death. I had to do a lot of work on the couch to get to a place where I was able to show up to a relationship with someone who was actually capable of being in one.”

Today he wears many hats, from amateur astrologer to vocal Obama campaigner. But with a renewed sense of personal purpose and Star Trek Into Darkness set to bust many a block come its May 2013 release, Zachary Quinto might have truly come into his own.