|Chris Pine in "Jack Ryan."
It looks as if 2013 is shaping up to be Chris Pine's year.
The actor, star of Rise of the Guardians (opening Wednesday) follows up in the new year with, among other projects, two blockbusters: Star Trek Into Darkness and Jack Ryan.
The latter is his first go as Tom Clancy's famous spy, and the film, a prequel of sorts, puts Pine, 32, in the lofty company of Alec Baldwin (The Hunt For Red October), Harrison Ford (Patriot Games; Clear and Present Danger) and Ben Affleck (The Sum of All Fears), all of whom have played the character in the past.
Speaking over the phone from England, where he's filming Jack Ryan, Pine is very happy to count his blessings. "I'm lucky to be working, and it constantly amazes me, when I step on set on Jack Ryan, that I get to go to work with Kevin Costner and Ken Branagh. That I get to step past the awe of it and actually get to work with these people I've watched for so long -- can't believe I'm lucky enough to do that."
Pine is also lucky enough to star in Rise of the Guardians, an upcoming animated 3D adventure that seems destined to become a children's classic. (He has called it an Avengers for the kiddie crowd.) When an evil spirit called Pitch threatens to cast a terrible pall over the world, the various heroes of childhood -- Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, the Easter Bunny and Jack Frost -- join forces to protect the realm of the imagination. As Jack Frost, Pine's character has the most to learn about hard work and team spirit.
"The theme of Rise of the Guardians is a universal one that resonates with kids," says Pine. "It's about the power of belief, the power of the imagination and the joy that can bring."
As a third-generation actor and storyteller, Pine knows all about the power of the imagination. The L.A.-born Pine, whose parents and grandparents were also actors, says it was "probably inevitable" that he join the industry, although he didn't start acting until college. He studied English literature at the University of California (Berkeley), then studied acting at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. He made his film debut in The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, and has been highly visible since his starring role in Star Trek in 2009.
Pine has starred in Unstoppable, This Means War, People Like Us, and Smokin' Aces, among other pictures, and 2013 will also be the year he makes his screenwriting debut. The actor and a few friends wrote Mantivities, a comedy about a bunch of guys who really don't want to grow up but know they must. That film will be his first as a producer, too.
Meanwhile, Rise of the Guardians is not Pine's first foray into animation, but it is his first big DreamWorks production; his co-stars are Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher and Jude Law.
He says the movie reminds him a little of E.T. "They are completely different movies, of course," he says, "but they have the same kind of magic of belief in these fantastic creatures." Rise of The Guardians is a classic good vs. evil fable, with the protectors of childhood banding together against the one who would bring kids nightmares and fear.
"It's not reinventing the wheel or anything," Pines adds, "but anytime we can hear those stories collectively, that's a good thing."