Whether it’s because he’s a producer as well as an actor or just a very intelligent guy, Zachary Quinto is one of Hollywood’s most erudite and thoughtful movie stars, perfectly cast as the modern incarnation of Mr Spock, the logical yin to Captain Kirk’s gut-instinct yang in Star Trek Beyond. Just like his on-screen alter ego, Quinto is rarely lost for words, considers each question carefully and knows just where he’s at.
Unlike the Vulcan, however, he is similarly up front about his emotions, as SFX discovers when we talk to the 39-year-old star about trekking back to the stars, his friendship with Leonard Nimoy and his dedication to LGBT rights. “I really feel like the pursuit of an authentic life is a life-long one,” he tells us. “I feel like I’m busier and happier than I’ve been in a long long time, and I feel really grateful for that.”
Where is Mr. Spock when we meet him in Star Trek Beyond, and what obstacles is he going to face in this movie?
Yeah, at the beginning of the film, we’re all in the middle of our 5-year mission, and then things go tits-up. Spock is in a couple of different places. Psychologically and emotionally in this film, he is approaching a bit of an existential crossroads of sorts.
He’s really trying to figure out how he can best be of service to others, where his efforts are best directed in terms of the contribution that he’s making either historically or to the Vulcan race, and the efforts to re-populate and re-build Vulcan.
As the movie goes on, physically he is compromised and severely injured, and that becomes a primary obstacle for him throughout the film as well. Things are happening on different levels for him throughout most of the movie.
Is he still struggling with logic versus emotion? That’s one of the cornerstones of the character.
Yeah, in a way, he is. Less so as things progress. In a way, he is a little bit more at peace with the duality that he possesses, if that makes sense to you, but then there are other things that happen in the course of the movie I won’t spoil for you, that a lot of the things that happen to him in this movie speak right to that very point, the difference between logic and emotion, and when they are better employed.
After working on the series under J. J. Abrams, how different an experience is it working with Justin Lin. How different is he as a director?
They’re very different people and very different directors, but Justin is enormously talented in his own right, and I feel like he came in with a quiet confidence.
He’s an incredible visual story-teller, and yet also very concerned with the underpinnings of the emotional lives of the characters. He was really fantastic to work with. I really enjoyed it, and he brought his own style and his own sensibility to the movie in a great way.
It looks like it’s going to be a very different animal on screen. You can almost see the Fast and Furious influence. It looks like it’s a lot faster and zanier.
Yeah, there’s a lot of action for sure, but there’s also a lot of humor, a lot of heart. Any good blockbuster should be a balance of those things. Hopefully we’re able to strike that balance ourselves.
How have things gone since your decision to come out?
Yeah, I absolutely look back on my journey and recognize the value of that decision both for me personally and in a larger sense for the movement, to be a part of the movement toward LGBT equality, and that has obviously made incredible strides in the last few years, certainly in the United States, but there’s still more work to be done.
I’m glad that I can be a part of that work, and I can do that, and help lend my voice to a really important and momentous transition in our culture and our society, that we’re literally living through right now. It’s a very exciting time to be a part of the LGBT community, for sure.
All the recent talk about diversity seems to be focused on racial diversity. Are you ever concerned that could distract from issues of gender and sexual diversity in the business?
No, it’s like a process, like I said. It’s and ebb and a flow. Any minority group is going to have to stand up and draw attention to their particular cause. The cultural and ethnic diversity conversation is basically of the same ilk, and we just ought to support each other.
It’s just standing up and being counted, and being identified. It’s all happening. I don’t feel like it’s a distraction, it’s an enhancement in a way.
You became good friends with Leonard Nimoy. What do you miss about him since his passing?
I just miss him. I miss his voice, I miss the idea of calling him up and making a plan to have brunch or dinner. We spent a lot of time together. It’s just the presence of someone that you care about deeply who’s no longer in the world, that I miss most.
You’re a producer as well as an actor. Keeping busy?
I’ve been saying ‘no’ a lot lately, which is an interesting and different point of view for me. I feel like I got to this place in my career by saying ‘yes a lot, and I’m grateful for that, but ‘no can be an equally powerful answer.