He called himself the “underdog” in the Battle of the Chrises (between Pine, Evans, Hemsworth and Pratt), saying that he either needed to change his name or step up. But we think this blue-eyed birthday boy, who turns 42 today, was selling himself short. Okay, so he hasn’t played a superhero and he isn’t effortlessly buff and he doesn’t have Captain America’s ass, but Chris Pine has always held his own, whether it is because he effortlessly slipped words like moribund and sacrosanct into interviews (in competition with Zachary Quinto) or because he is the only Chris to have been photographed during the pandemic wearing a mask and carrying a bag of books from an indie bookstore. But mostly because he has made his mark through a variety of roles that are not part of a behemoth, decade-spanning movie universe. To celebrate his birthday we picked a few of Pine’s best on-screen appearances that highlight his versatility.
The male love interest
Pine is comfortable enough in his masculinity to be, not a co-lead, but rather just a love interest, in female-driven films and let the ladies take the spotlight.
The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
It might not be a movie to write home about (though Julie Andrews mattress surfing was pretty epic) but this was the film that introduced most of us to Pine. Nicholas Devereaux managed to charm Anne Hathaway’s Mia and most of us who watched the movie as well.
Wonder Woman & Wonder Woman: 1984
Ace pilot Steve Trevor might have been a crucial part of the Wonder Woman movies but there is no doubt about who is the boss in the film. That Pine could so effortlessly go from “stay behind me” in the alleyway brawl to “maybe not” and just watching from the sidelines as Gal Gadot’s Diana deals with the goons endeared him to fans even more. And throughout the two movies, whether he is wearing a fanny pack or not, he solidly backs up his super-powered girlfriend.
Special mention: Just My Luck, a rom-com where he plays the luck-stealing boyfriend of Lindsay Lohan.
The voiceover actor
Even if it is not his face on screen, he has given life to two standout characters in the world of animation and they are both pretty awesome.
Rise of the Guardians
Pine is fabulous as Jack Frost, the teenage Spirit of Winter, who loves bringing snow but is torn by the fact that no one can see him because no one believes in him. He embarks on a journey with the other Guardians to save the world from Pitch Black and is finally made Guardian of Fun. Pine lends the character vivacity and vulnerability.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Pine voices the original Peter Parker in the world where Miles Morales, the protagonist of the movie, gets bitten by a radioactive spider. You can feel the twinkly-eyed joy in Parker’s voice as he recaps his life as Spider-Man and how much he enjoys still doing it every day. Not to forget that emotional moment between Morales and Pine’s Parker before he is killed by Kingpin.
The singing star
He is good-looking, he can act, he is funny, his vocabulary is on point… and he can sing?! Oh how he can sing!
Into the Woods
Pine was an absolute standout in the star-studded cast of Rob Marshall’s adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical. But who knew he had those sets of pipes in him! Him singing the duet Agony with Billy Magnussen is probably the best part of the film.
The action star
Hell or Highwater
Pine’s turn as Toby Howard, one of the two brothers who rob banks to save their family ranch, in the neo-western crime drama directed by David Mackenzie, should have got him an Oscar nomination for sure. A snub, which we didn’t feel kindly about. That scene where he and Jeff Bridges talk on the porch is potent and proves that Pine has what it takes to hold his own against a veteran like Bridges.
Another veteran that Pine shines next to is Denzel Washington in this action thriller that has the same edge-of-your-seat, race-against-time vibe of films like Speed. The story about two men trying to stop a runaway freight train that is carrying toxic, inflammable cargo before it derails in a populous area is full-on thrill.
It isn’t easy to step into the shoes of characters who have been iconic but Pine does so with confidence and makes the role of James T. Kirk, captain and commander of the Starship Enterprise, his own. He is definitely one of the reasons that this film is considered one of the best by Star Trek fans.
Special mention: Smokin’ Aces, where he plays psychotic, redneck, neo-Nazi Darwin Tremor. That scene where he has a conversation with the dead body of Ben Affleck after he and his brother shoot them is nuts.