Chris Pine On Following Some ‘Heavy Hitters’ to Become ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’

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Chris Pine stars in 'Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit'
Chris Pine stars in 'Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit'

He's saved the galaxy twice before, but now it's time for Chris Pine to get down to Earth.

The star who broke out as the young Captain Kirk is stepping into another iconic character as the title role in "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit." Pine is the fourth actor to take the part of the CIA analyst thrust into action during an international crisis, and from the looks of the first trailer debuting exclusively here on Yahoo Movies, he's up for the challenge.

Watch the First Trailer for 'Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit':

In a sad coincidence, the trailer for "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" appears just a day after the world learned of the loss of the character's creator, author Tom Clancy. Unlike the previous Jack Ryan films, this one installment comes from an original story not based directly on one of Clancy's novels. But for Pine, there was still a high level of intimidation following in the footsteps of previous Jack Ryan actors Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck.

[Photos: Tom Clancy's Cinematic Legacy]

"I'm taking over for some pretty heavy hitters," Chris Pine told Yahoo Movies by email from the UK where he's currently filming the musical "Into the Woods." He said, "It can seem pretty daunting at times. But I have one job to do which is to bring this story and this character to life. I'd be doing everyone a disservice if my mind were elsewhere."

Still, Pine admits that he looked to the previous takes on the character to inspire his. He said, "I love the unselfconscious humility Harrison has. His wife drives a Porsche and he drives a VW and wears a tweed coat it looks like he's had for years."

"And in ['The Hunt for Red October'], Alec has this obsession with the psychology of his enemy," Pine stated. "I really responded to this idea that ultimately in order to prevent nuclear catastrophe he has to decode the mind of one man."

The new film, "Shadow Recruit," takes Jack Ryan back to the early stages of his career in the CIA when a senior operative (played by Kevin Costner) enlists him for a covert operation in Moscow. The Cold War may be over, but there is a new threat to global stability in the form of Russian power player Victor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh, who also directs). Ryan begins to question if there is anyone he can trust, including his own wife (Keira Knightley).

"Bourne had his fists, Bond has Q, and Jack has his mind. He's a thinking man's spy," Pine said. He went on to say that while Ryan was a Marine who had seen action, he isn't a highly trained weapon like those other secret agents. Pine stated, "His battle, which I find really compelling, is that while he may feel more comfortable behind a desk solving intellectual puzzles, he feels drawn to serve on the front lines."

With all of the recent media attention on intelligence agencies, it might seem a challenge to get audiences to root for a spy. But Pine doesn't see it that way: "The big discovery for me was that as much as Jack is a patriot who serves his country, that isn't what propels him. It's something else, something much more personal. And something that isn't determined by a flag." He said Ryan possesses, "a strong inner compass that compels him to protect other people from harm even if that means putting his life in danger," and that makes him heroic.

It is notable that while "Shadow Recruit" features Jack Ryan at the earliest stage of his Agency career, at 34 years of age Chris Pine is actually older than Baldwin and Affleck when they played the role. He's also been in movies with both of them: he and Baldwin provided voices for the animated "Rise of the Guardians," and Pine killed Affleck's character in the crime caper "Smokin' Aces." He's never worked with Harrison Ford, though in an ironic note, Ford was reportedly going to play Ryan for a third time in Tom Clancy's "The Cardinal of the Kremlin" which was to costar none other than William Shatner.

"Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" will hit theaters on Christmas Day.