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STAR TREK

The Maiden Crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise
Although James T. Kirk is destined to become the kind of starship captain that legends are made of, as "Star Trek” begins, he is a brooding Iowa teenager full of smarts, charm and a mile-wide rebellious streak that can lead him astray. Kirk must first overcome what one character describes as "an instinct to leap before looking.” Yet, when he spies the gleaming U.S.S. Enterprise under construction in a well-guarded hangar, something in his heart is stirred and Kirk is struck with the ambition to attend Starfleet and try to make it to the top entirely on his own terms.

This view of Kirk as a raw, unformed young man searching for his future before he is ready to take on the responsibility of becoming a great leader is one that has never been seen on screen before. "We had the idea that Kirk would be almost a rebel without a cause when we first meet him. He's a renegade, a nonconformist, a go-by-the-gut kind of guy, but he's basically lost. It's only when he sees the Enterprise that he's inspired by a sense of purpose that alters his path,” says Abrams.

To find a young actor who could play the role that William Shatner made so unforgettable, yet establish his own take on the character, the filmmakers embarked on their own epic quest. It was only when they were nearing the end of their search that Chris Pine auditioned for them, and took them by surprise.

Pine's roles in a number of romantic comedies and in the action film "Smokin' Aces” had established him as a young star to watch, but no one anticipated he would be such an intuitive match up for Kirk's intensity, humor and individualism. Recalls executive producer Bryan Burk: "Chris had this amazing confidence and swagger without being cocky or pretentious. He was spot-on and we knew immediately we had found our Kirk.” Adds producer Damon Lindelof: "We were looking for someone who could organically channel Shatner without mimicking Shatner, someone who would be a lot of fun yet could walk onto the Bridge of the Enterprise and instantly command authority. Chris had all of those qualities.”

Sums up J.J. Abrams: "Chris has the wit, sharpness and athleticism of Kirk, but, equally important, he can be a complete goof and very vulnerable. Most of all, he was game for anything, always engaged and present in the role. He made Kirk very real, which was everything we wanted.”

Pine was, in turn, impressed by Abrams. "The energy surrounding him and this project was just palpable,” he says. "I couldn't wait to be part of it.” From the beginning, Pine understood that he would have to forge his own individual path and take only a dash of inspiration from what Shatner had done to transform the character into a global icon. "Mr. Shatner created a character who was an action hero and a ladies' man and he did it with an incredible amount of humor. What I really love about this film is that you get the chance to see why and how he became the man he was,” Pine says. "It was incredibly overwhelming to step into Mr. Shatner's shoes and the whole canon of ‘Trek' film and television history. We all agreed it would be a mistake to try to recreate what he did. The challenge was to make it my own.”

The script helped to fire his imagination in new directions, Pine says. "Because we get to see Kirk as a young man, we are able to establish where his energy and passion come from and why he has to struggle to live up to his potential.”

Kirk's essential humanity, often as flawed and foolhardy as it is powerful and commanding, was what Pine most wanted to get across. "Kirk is not a superhero. He's just a man like any of us faced with these incredible problems that need to be solved. What sets him apart is that he always fights with all he's got and perseveres to the very end.”

Pine undertook intensive physical training in boxing and martia

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