Zachary Quinto, Chris Pine and Benedict Cumberbatch beamed into Manhattan Thursday night for a special screening of J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek Into Darkness” at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square on the Upper West Side. (Acer and Microsoft presented the mini-premiere.)
The handsome “Star Trek” leading men walked the black carpet, looking elegant and very smart in their beautifully tailored suits. Pine was the most dramatic in a bold pinstripe and scruffy facial hair.
But the loudest screams from adoring fans, mostly female, were reserved for Brit actor Cumberbatch. The women squealed as soon as they saw him pull up in his black SUV. Draped over the barricades was a banner that read, “We’re the Cumberbitches,” which is what his female English fans call themselves jokingly.
Cumberbitch fever can only intensify in the next months with his upcoming “Hobbit” movie and his portrayal of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in “The Fifth Estate.” And in time for Oscar season, “August: Osage County,” co-starring Julia Roberts and Meryl Street, and Steve McQueen’s “Twelve Years a Slave” come out before the end of the year.
By the way, Cumberbatch cannot bring himself to use the word Cumberbitches. In this clip from Graham Norton’s show, Cumberbatch said his fans are called “The Cumber Batch.” It was Pine who shouted out “Cumberbitch,” to the Brit actor’s embarrassment. Also on the show, Cumberbatch gets to use his sinister voice.
Cumberbatch uses his sinister voice effectively in “Star Trek Into Darkness,” which is not your father’s “Star Trek.” It’s a roller coaster ride with non-stop action. This time there’s a terrorist from within the organization threatening the world and the crew of the Enterprise. Cumberbatch plays a complicated character with a posh English accent, who may or may not be the villain. All I’ll say is that he deserves a more exotic name than John Harrison, maybe something like Benedict Cumberbatch.
Anyway, in this J.J. Abrams reboot, Captain Kirk (Pine) is on a quest to capture the bad guy and save his family, the Starship crew, and along the way he breaks rules, which perturbs his pal Spock. The film is as much a bromance about the relationship between Kirk and Spock (Quinto) as it is an action sci-fi film. Spock also acquires some human-like characteristics, including emotions, which may rile a few Trekkie purists. But mainly the film is a pure joyride! It’s also great fun to see Quinto as a full-fledged action hero.
Last night, Cumberbatch showered lots of attention on his female fans, as he signed posters and posed for endless pictures on the carpet.
Meanwhile Pine and Quinto walked the carpet together and seem to be real buds off screen. Pine is on the current cover of Out magazine, and in the interview, talked about how happy he was his co-star has come out in his own time.
Pine, who next appears as the title character in another action film, “Jack Ryan,” told me on the carpet that the best part about working with Abrams was the director’s sense of humor. “He’s very funny. Going to work was a blast.”
As for whether he has any similarities to his James Kirk character, Pine said, “I’m nowhere near the level of Kirk’s kind of rule breaking, but I can understand Kirk’s ambition and kind of relentless pursuit of doing what he thinks is right.”
He also told me that in this film, he discovered his character’s sensitive side. “Humility,” he summed it up. “From a man in the first film who was so self assured, in this film he’s broken down so quickly, that it was very interesting to play a man that was fragile, that was weak, that was vulnerable, that was scared really. And I thought that Kirk’s fear about whether or not he was going to win was an interesting thing to play.”
Quinto, who is brainy like his character Spock, told me before he rushed into the theater that he has discovered new depths in his character this time around. “I was really grateful” that producers Bob Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof and J.J. Abrams “gave me the opportunity to explore a more versatile landscape in my emotional life and in my physical life with this film as the character. And it was such a bigger ride, and a bolder experience all around to work in a movie in 3D and IMAX with all these visual effects and action sequences, and yet still with the anchor of the emotional connection and relationship with the character that is so characteristically J.J. So it’s exciting!”
Other celebrities on the carpet, none of whom claimed to be Trekkies, included Annie Parisse, Katrina Bowden, Emma Kenny, Tom Cavanagh, Wilmer Valderrama and “Motown” Tony nominee, Charl Brown. When I asked Cavanagh (“Royal Pains,” “Ed”) for his favorite “Star Trek” character, he cracked, “Fantastic question! I would say Yoda.”
“Star Trek Into Darkness” opens Wednesday, May 15, and the best way to see it is on an IMAX screen.