(From the Pasadena Star-News by Rob Lowman. Chris Pine plays Capt. Kirk in the recent movies, originated by longtime Studio City resident .)
One of the contributions that Chris Pine made to his new film "People Like Us" was to suggest a location for a key scene - in Studio City.
"We used to go to Henry's Tacos all the time when I was a kid," says the now 31-year-old Pine, who grew up in North Hollywood and Studio City.
"People Like Us," opening Friday, is the directorial debut of Alex Kurtzman, who co-wrote it with Roberto Orci. The script is a bit of a departure for the longtime writing partners whose films include "Transformers," "Mission: Impossible III," "Star Trek" and the upcoming "The Amazing Spider-Man."
Partially based on Kurtzman's own life, "People Like Us" is about a high-energy New York City wheeler-dealer named Sam (Pine) who returns to Los Angeles when his estranged father - a successful music producer - dies. There he finds out about a half-sister, Frankie (Elizabeth Banks), he didn't know he had.
The film is also an L.A. story, with action taking place downtown, up Laurel Canyon and in the Valley.
There are few films set in the city that really show more than Beverly Hills, palm trees and the Hollywood sign, notes Pine.
"I love the fact we used the real places like the Laundromat in Tarzana. There are all these places in the Valley that I remember as a kid."
The actor knew Kurtzman a little from the first of J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" movies ("I kind of had my blinders on in that film. I just wanted to do a good job and not get fired.") He says he's not sure why the director thought of him for "People," but was glad he did.
Pine says his attraction to the film was that it was a well-told story.
"That's just a rare thing. I liked the journey Sam goes on, from day one as a selfish, emotionally detached person to someone who is at least working toward being real and authentic and communicative."
Still, Pine was a bit concerned that the drama of the situation might overwhelm it. So he talked to Kurtzman about trying to bring as much humor as he could to the film. The director agreed.
"Alex also had Liz Banks, who is incredibly funny," adds Pine, "and sometimes he would just let us rip on one another, like in the scene at Henry's."
Pine is third-generation showbiz, so you would think being an actor would be an easy choice. His father, Robert Pine, played Sgt. Joseph Getraer on the 1970s cop show "CHiPS," and his mother, Gwynne Gilford, starred in the sci-fi film "Masters of the Universe." His grandfather, Max M. Gilford, was an entertainment lawyer, and his grandmother, Anne Gwynne, was a pinup model and star who was in more than 60 films.
Pine attended the Oakwood School in North Hollywood for high school and in 2002 received a bachelor's degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley. But acting was the first thing he says he "really felt connected to."