Zachary Quinto is making an institution of himself in Hollywood. He has a successful production company that backed films like Margin Call and A Most Violent Year. And in front of the camera he has a long and impressive list of credits on television and in films. But he’s best known for taking over the role of Spock in Star Trek. His third film in the role, Star Trek Beyond, is out now. We caught up with him at San Diego Comic-Con to discuss the new movie, razors and Star Trek rivalries.
“Gene Roddenberry was a true visionary mind and he represented a belief and a faith of humanity and I think whether it’s the original series or Next Generation or Deep Space Nine, we’re all part of it. There’s room for everybody.”
You’ve played Spock in three films now. I’m feeling like you have gotten in the Vulcan mind. What can Vulcans teach humans about being better gentlemen?
I think that there’s a balance that Spock represents that for me is a good reminder of trying to find the line between your head and your heart. And keep it even keel. That’s something I’ve learned from portraying a Vulcan.
I’ve noticed that Vulcans are often clean-shaven. I mean almost always.
What’s up with that?
Well, you know, that’s just how they like to keep it. They like to keep it tidy. They like to keep it clean. And I think it’s a good convergence here at Comic-Con to be at the shave shop with Schick Hydro. And introducing the Robot Razor and the superhero they have. So it’s a good moment for this type of convergence.
So, what are you up to with Schick?
I think that there’s no place where hygiene is more important than at Comic-Con. So, I think being here to remind people to keep it clean, keep it close—you know, there’s a lot of people milling about down here in San Diego this weekend, so I feel like I’m here to represent and remind people to be considerate of others and keep it close-shaven.
Well you set an example for all of us.
Well thanks, man. I try.
So this Robot Razor character, I can’t resist asking in a Comic-Con context, who would win in a fight: Spock or the Robot Razor?
Well I hate to say, he might have the edge.
I see what you did there. Well back to Star Trek, I’m really excited about the film. I’m actually seeing the film tonight. I grew up on The Next Generation. Do you guys in the Kirk-Spock world feel like the varsity-level Star Trek and everything else is JV?
I think that we are all part of a continuum and the great thing about the 50th anniversary of Star Trek is that it’s an opportunity for us to celebrate the origins of all of these spin-offs and different franchise arms. And Gene Roddenberry was a true visionary mind and he represented a belief and a faith of humanity and an optimism and I think whether it’s the original series or Next Generation or Deep Space Nine or any of the films that evolved out of this one singular vision, I think we’re all part of it. I think that’s a great thing. There’s room for everybody and I think we all feel a part of one big family.
That’s really beautiful. Do you have a favorite Trek film that you aren’t in?
For me, it was The Wrath of Khan, which kind of opened up my mind to how exciting Trek can be and kind of drew me into the franchise in a way that I hadn’t been until then. But I’d say that’s probably my go-to.
The films tend to be more action-oriented than the shows. Do you feel that’s necessary for them to work in the theater context?
[Audiences] have become really accustomed to the kind of high-energy, high-octane, action-driven, visual-effects-heavy blockbusters that our versions of Star Trek have, that they represent, so I do think they are indicative of audience expectations to a certain extent. So we try to keep the core of the message, the heart of Star Trek intact. But I do think we give the audience a little bit more of what they’ve come to expect in this modern day.
Touching off your comment on Gene Roddenberry seeing the best in people—there’s been a little, I wouldn’t even call it a controversy, but some differences of opinion on portraying the character of Sulu as gay in the new film. But I thought the thing that really struck was that everybody’s comments seem pretty respectful and you know, I saw that you had some things to say about it. Do you think Star Trek makes it easy to stay chill and not have it get whipped up into a media frenzy?
I think all of us that are a part of the franchise definitely approach our work with a respect. That’s a cornerstone of where it all began and so yeah, I do think it helps contain the dialogue about it in a respectful way. You know, for me, it was like last night at the premiere here in San Diego, there were over 3,000 people and there was a huge eruption of applause in that moment of the film. And I think that’s all that any of us were hoping for and, to me that kind of said it all. For the audience to react in that way is right in line with the response we hoped to generate.
The other big event that is happening now is the RNC and they couldn’t feel more diametrically opposed in terms of the kind of emotional output.
Yeah well I’m certainly at the convention that I belong at right now. So it’s good to be here at Comic-Con and we were really thrilled to share the movie with audiences last night. And yeah, I’m happy that we got to celebrate the 50th anniversary in the perfect environment with a great group of fans. And it was an exciting event for sure.
Well thank you so much for spending a few minutes talking with me and I can’t wait to see the film and best of luck.
Thanks man. I hope you enjoy it.