Entertainment » Movies

Chris Pine trades the Enterprise for runaway train

by Fred Topel
Wednesday Nov 10, 2010

Chris Pine may never be able to shake the label "Captain of the Enterprise," nor should he want to. In between Star Treks though, he gets to handle some other cool machinery. In this week’s Unstoppable, Pine plays a train conductor paired with a veteran (Denzel Washington), who have to stop a runaway train.

"It was interesting and frightening when we went to the rail yard in LA," Pine said. "They said the most dangerous thing isn’t out on the track, it’s in the yard because the trains can be so quiet and seemingly innocuous, but of course they’re thousand ton beasts. I remember this one guy telling the story that this guy got surprised on the track, and the train was only going 3 or 4 miles per hour and pinned the guy. They had to call the family out because the guy was still alive as he was pinned, they said their goodbyes, and the train separates from the guy, he passed away... I mean, that’s how dangerous these things are."

Daring rescue

Unstoppable is based on a true story of a daring rescue, but the film is a fictionalized account. It carries all the dangerous detail the real rail workers face every day though. "Everyone we talked to had an experience, whether it was a conductor or engineer, with life and death stuff," Pine said. "People trying to cross the tracks, there’s no emergency stop button, a lot of people have experience traumatic events."

Directed by Tony Scott, Unstoppable puts Pine and Washington into the action themselves. Pine has daring scenes where he’s jumping from car to car, getting blasted by spilling flakes of farm stock.

"It’s a credit to Tony, really," Pine said. "Everything was practical. Not only were we on trains, on the tracks, we had two trains. One train that looked like the train, that one was chopped up so that cab could be circled by this 360°-camera so we could run scenes over and over again and feel like we were driving the train and not be hindered, and run the scene. It was such a freedom and a liberty to be able to do that."

Pine will give credit where it’s due, to the stunt men. "Pretty much every time I’m not connected to any vehicle, if someone’s jumping, it’s not me," Pine said. "I did most of all of it, except for jumping onto moving vehicles. I’m on the truck and I’m about to jump, but I go like that [with my arms], and then my lovely stunt double did it. But actually, that was one scary thing is that when he jumped from the truck back onto the train, we use it in the movie. He slips, and you see him slip, and that train is going 30 miles an hour, and he slipped, and I think his wife had just had a child that day, or something. If he had slipped and gone under, that’s real stuff."

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Watch the trailer to Unstoppable:

Watch this interview with Chris Pine about Unstoppable:


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