Hollywood star Zachary Quinto returns to Pittsburgh (part 2)
Hollywood star Zachary Quinto returns to Pittsburgh (part 2)
Hollywood star Zachary Quinto returns to Pittsburgh (part 1)
(Zachary Quinto) POV: Talking Standbys and Understudying, an important part of the acting process
zachary quinto on “morning joe”
Leonard Nimoy On Zachary Quinto As Spock
Zachary Quinto on American Horror Story: Asylum, Star Trek Into Darkness and Willy Wonka (aka the movie that scared him as a child, lol)
Besties Ian McKellen & Patrick Stewart on Envy, “Star Trek” Costumes & the ‘Gandalf Face’
Zachary Quinto: A Star’s Trek Behind the Scenes
"We have a little joke at Before the Door," says actor-producer Zachary Quinto of the special skills each partner at his increasingly busy Hollywood production company. "Corey Moosa is the heart of the company, Neal Dodson is the brains of the company, and I’m the face of the company."
That’s because Quinto, of course, is in the midst of a red-hot career in front of the cameras in both film and television with his role as Mr. Spock in the revived Star Trek franchise and as one of the ensemble players popping in and out of the anthological seasons of producer Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story. But as part of Before the Door, Quinto’s also has an exciting producing career in progress, responsible for such critical and commercial hits as Margin Call and All Is Lost.
The division of specialties among the partners, he says is “true in the way that each of us had to pursue our different responsibilities. I think one of my strengths in the company is my relationships in the business: certainly in the casting stage of any project I can reach out directly to actors and reach out to agents myself, and in a lot of ways might have a phone call returned a little more quickly.”
The current film from Quinto’s production shingle is the horror-thriller The Banshee Chapter – available now on VOD and in select theaters January 10 – from writer-director Blair Erickson, who like Quinto and his partners is a Carnegie Mellon University alum. “We have a large interest in supporting new works and new writers and directors, and he filled that criteria, and we responded to the script on a creative level,” says Quinto. “I felt like it was smart, I like the historical context of the story. I really am personally interested in the idea of mind expansion and the lengths to which people will go to experience it.
"It was exciting for us," he says. "We haven’t done anything in this genre before, and obviously with my fan base from American Horror Story and Star Trek to a certain extent, it felt like it was an appropriate project to immerse ourselves in.”
That said, Quinto – who’s currently most focused on his acting career and shepherding a few Before the Door projects to star in himself to the screen – definitely wants to expand his repertoire beyond the sci-fi, horror and superhero spheres he’s already hit big within for both sides of his profession.
"The last thing I’m interested in is being tethered to one kind of storytelling or one genre," he says. “If you look at the movies we’ve made – corporate thriller, we made a romantic comedy, a horror movie, a solitary lost-at-sea film, next up, another intellectual, adventure thriller kind of movie that we’re doing with J.C. Chandor – I feel like there’s a lot of diversity in that. We use different criteria to chose our projects, so creative integrity in a story that we all respond to, a director that we can really share the vision of, and then stories that we think people are going to be interested in and relate to.”
And there’s more that he hopes to add to his professional plate. "I definitely want to direct, and I’m looking for ways to do that even now," he says. "For me, that’s all about the story, and I haven’t found the story yet that I would need to be as passionate about to tell. But I do want to explore that territory, and to find out, when the time is right, how to make that step."
Given that J.J. Abrams, the director of the last two Trek installments, is stepping away from his behind-the-camera duties to focus on the Star Wars relaunch and new screenwriters J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay will be joining returning scribe Roberto Orci. Quinto expects a new jolt of creative energy to fuel the franchise’s third outing.
"I’m certainly interested in who those people are, and I’m eager to figure out how we’ll communicate and how we’ll work together," he says. "I feel very open to the experience. As sorry as I am to know that we won’t necessarily have J.J. at the helm, I have implicit trust in his taste [as executive producer], and I’m confident that he’ll chose somebody that is really exciting and fun to work with."
Given his expanding list of creative hyphenated job titles, does Quinto have any behind-the-scenes ambitions within the Trek franchise, if opportunity arises? “I don’t know… I don’t know,” he says. “It seems so far-fetched, frankly. We only have one more movie that we’re guaranteed to do, and I know I am not going to be directing that one. I feel like it seems so far beyond my current capacity that I can’t imagine it ever coming around to that – but you know, we’ll see. I imagine it being a little bit of a smaller story and something that my production company can support. I’m creating this infrastructure for myself for a lot of reasons, not just to benefit me as an actor, but also to give me an infrastructure that allows me to tell stories in other ways down the line too.”
Having cultivated a warm personal and working relationship with Leonard Nimoy as he assumed the Spock mantle, Quinto’s garnered insight from the veteran actor, who parlayed his own creative investment in Star Trek as the director/producer of the third and fourth films features the original TV cast into a more diverse directorial career with movies like Three Men and a Baby and The Good Mother.
"We’ve spoken a lot about his experience and his career and the diversity of it," says Quinto. "And I know that it’s allowed him to feel like he’s had an incredible journey in his work and his life, and hopefully, I’ll look back on my experience with the same realization. It was interesting to have those conversations with him, for sure." (source)
HOLLYWOOD DARLING ZACHARY QUINTO THRIVES ON THE SPICE OF LIFE, TAKING ON ROLES IN BLOCKBUSTERS ALONGSIDE BROADWAY PLAYS. AFTER OPENING NIGHT OF TENNESSEE WILLIAMS’S THE GLASS MENAGERIE, HE SPOKE WITH OUR EDITOR-AT-LARGE ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF VARIETY
Playing it cool isn’t the easiest thing to do, and to his credit, the stern severity and rigidity that Zachary Quinto brought to the role of Spock in the recent Star Trek revamp is a testament to the 36-year-old’s acting skills. However, luckily for us, seeing him play the part of Tom in Tennessee Williams’ 1944 play The Glass Menagerie allows the actor to show us his complicated side. The play takes place in St. Louis, Missouri (this writer’s hometown, as I’m happy to tell anyone!) and follows a few nights with an unconventional Midwestern family: Quinto’s character is an arts-minded youth with a crappy factory job who supports a complex and delusional mother (played superbly by Cherry Jones) and a homebound, socially awkward, slightly handicapped younger sister (Celia Keenan-Bolger). Any drama buff knows that Quinto’s is an important role, since, as the actor points out, this is Williams’s most autobiographical work. After seeing the play, we asked him what it was like to tackle the role.
How familiar were you with Tennessee and this play before you signed on to do it?
ZACHARY QUINTO I came to this experience with an appreciation for Tennessee and his plays—but without any deep familiarity. I had read The Glass Menagerie and most of his other major plays, and I had seen a number of his works over the years. But I had never worked with any of his material myself until this production.
How did you prepare?
ZQ I read. A lot. There is no shortage of literature about Tennessee, often written by Tennessee himself. So I just dove into anything I could find about his life and his experiences. Tom Wingfield is the most autobiographical character in Williams’s canon, so learning everything I could about Tennessee helped me gain a point of access into the character.
You know I’m from St. Louis. Did you have to do any research on the city? My face lit up when The Jewel Box was mentioned. It’s my favorite place back home.
ZQ Sadly, I have yet to make it to St. Louis. So all of my knowledge of the city is from books and pictures. It was such a difference place in the 30’s. Teeming with people from all over the country and the world, converging to gain some measure of accomplishment. It was full of possibility and life. I look forward to using the play as a point of reference when I finally get to travel there.
You do a convincing slightly-southern-mid-Atlantic accent. Was that difficult?
ZQ The poetry of this play is so beautiful and well structured that a vocal quality and cadence merge within it over time. Being true to Tennessee’s roots and also his affectations was important. But so was making the distinction that Tom is his own person. I make vocal choices that hopefully support that distinction.
At its core, it’s a sad tale. Tennessee himself had a sick sister, which beleaguered him all his life. You have the final monologue, the last word on a failing American Dream. How do you cope at the end of a performance?
ZQ Strangely, perhaps, I find myself exhilarated at the end of every show. There is catharsis in the journey of this play for me that allows me to feel a sense of gratitude each time we finish a performance. It is a sad tale on many levels. But it also contains such a universal sense of humanity; that there is a kind of communion between the company and the audience that becomes life affirming.
You seem to have hit a good rhythm between big production Hollywood fare and something more intimate and personal, like Broadway. Is that important?
ZQ Diversity is key for me. I am always at my best when I am busy. And I like to immerse myself fully in experiences that demand different facets of my interests and abilities.
And how are you coping with the grueling schedule of being on Broadway?
ZQ I try to set up a structure for myself that allows time for self-care. Being productive with my days and trying to be active. Taking care of myself. But, I also enjoying the social aspect of being on Broadway. It helps that I am a total night owl too.
THE LOOK: MR ZACHARY QUINTO
Although the character he is most identified with - the half-vulcan, half-human Mr Spock of the 2009 and 2013 rebooted Star Trek movies - is hardly known for his chic daywear or the way he rocks a pair of jeans, off-screen the actor Mr Zachary Quinto has become something of a fashion plate.
He flew relatively under the radar in Los Angeles, but the 36 year old, who now lives in New York and is currently starring in a glorious revival of Mr Tennessee Williams’ memory play The Glass Menagerie, has become a regular on the party circuit. He has been known to shown up at a CFDA party in a classic yet contemporary grey suit made for him by his friend, Mr Todd Snyder, and attend a Met Ball in an eye-catching waistcoat, his hair tinted an electric blue to complement the evening’s punk theme.
"It’s more a matter of trying to make sure I’m wearing things that fit well but that are not boring," says Mr Quinto in his dressing room upstairs at the Booth Theater, where in a few hours he will take to the stage in Mr Williams’ 1945 play. "As a guy, that’s a little more of a challenge than if you’re able to wear a big gown. We have to work with fewer resources. It becomes about the details. Cufflinks. Tie bars. Do you have a break in your trousers or is it a shorter hem? I’ve learnt a lot about tailoring: what fits and what lines are good for me and my body type."
Today, a particularly cold Friday in Times Square, Mr Quinto is wearing a pair of dark, slim-fitting jeans and a cashmere sweatshirt - his “typical New York uniform” - before he’ll change into his period costume.
When you’re doing a play as masterful as this, it will always support you. I put on my clothes and it just becomes a different space. Anything is possible
"New York is more about function over form," he says. "LA’s a little more about how things look. Here, there’s less time to think about it. I put less thought and effort into it. I will literally wear the same thing for a few days because my days are spent running around."
Even growing up in Pennsylvania, and then during his student days at Carnegie Mellon University, fashion was always something that piqued his interest. “If I look back, I used to be a little more flagrant or a little more on the nose with trying to put crazy patterns together,” says Mr Quinto as he uses a Thera Cane to work his back, a pre-stage routine suggested by his massage therapist. “I’ve always been interested in a plaid with a stripe, or some kind of pattern that is offset by something that’s different. But now I try to do it in a subtler way. It’s still there if you’re looking for it, but it’s not screaming for attention.”
When Mr Quinto’s career was just getting going, he explains that what he wore “didn’t matter because no one was looking at me”. Since starring in NBC’s hit sci-fi drama Heroes, however, not to mention the blockbuster Star Trek films and two seasons in the hit series American Horror Story, “there’s more attention paid to these kind of things. That’s a crash course in and of itself.”
People are paying even more attention to Mr Quinto since The Glass Menagerie opened. His portrayal of aspiring poet Tom Wingfield, a man desperate to escape the confines of his overbearing mother (played by Ms Cherry Jones) and his immature, disabled sister, has earned him the best reviews of his career, with the The New York Times describing it as “kinetically charged” and “career-defining”.
Mr Quinto says that since performances began in the early autumn he has settled into a “comfort and familiarity” with the character. “When you’re doing a play as masterful as this, it will always support you,” he says. “It falls into place every night. I put on my clothes and it just becomes a different space. Anything is possible.”
The same, apparently, goes for life in New York, where Mr Quinto has decided to become a full-time resident. “I’ve always wanted to live here,” he says. “The past 13 years of working in LA were a lot about figuring out when and how to get back here. I love Los Angeles, it’s a beautiful city, but it has no soul. It requires so much more effort. Here, you step outside of your apartment and you never know where it’s going to take you.”
The irony, however, is that since leaving Los Angeles it’s not just his career in front of the camera that is taking off. With two long-time friends - Messrs Neal Dodson and Corey Moosa - Mr Quinto founded the production company Before The Door. Its 2011 film Margin Call, about the initial moments before the 2007-2008 financial crisis and starring Messrs Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons and Ms Demi Moore (with Mr Quinto also in a role), was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Before The Door’s latest, All is Lost, which stars Mr Robert Redford - and only Mr Redford - has received universal acclaim for its ingenuity and use of cinema to portray a man lost at sea after a sailboat accident.
Mr Quinto says that many actors talk about creating their own material but that they need the right people in their corner to help them jump through all the Hollywood hoops. “I have to focus on my career as an actor primarily in order to give myself any credit or leverage to run this company to begin with,” he explains.
But mostly, Mr Quinto insists, “I’ve learnt that it’s possible to make really good films and to have everybody enjoy the process of doing it. And that’s a great thing to know.” As of now, Before The Door has about six projects in active development and is looking for vehicles for Mr Quinto, which could potentially include a cable television series with “a really unique character” that he would not elaborate on.
For the moment, however, Mr Quinto is trying to decide what to do when The Glass Menagerie closes. The last time he finished a play in New York - a revival of Angels in America - he took a month-long trek to Peru by himself. “That’s a different thing than going on vacation,” he says. Right now, he’s considering India, though Bora Bora might win out.
"That’s my dream jam," he says of the Pacific island. "It might be time for a beach."