In Alex Kurtzman’s new movie People Like Us, Chris Pine (Star Trek) portrays Sam, who on the day of his father’s death loses a big deal he has been working on, leaving him broke. When he discovers his dad has left an enormous amount of cash to Frankie (Elizabeth Banks, The Hunger Games), a sister he never knew, he seeks her out to decide whether or not to give her the money.
I spoke with Chris and Elizabeth about their intimate drama at the press day for the movie.
Do you think audiences will relate to the theme of People Like Us, families having secrets?
Chris: I originally thought, ‘Maybe it’s not all that relatable.’ But going around the country, talking about the film, without fail in every city someone has had this same story happen to them.
Elizabeth: We all want to know that our daddy loves us. And at the end of this movie we got an answer. I love the journey Frankie takes. I think it’s a very surprising ending. I think it’s why it’s so cathartic for people who see the movie, because it is very relatable.
You’re both part of hugely successful franchises. What does it mean to be able to break away and do something like this?
Chris: Star Trek gave me the opportunity to do a film like this and have it seen. But just because this is a small character-driven film, there wasn’t forethought there, saying, ‘I want to make a small movie now.’
Elizabeth: I do this job to connect with people, and when you’re in a big franchise you connect with a lot of people, and that’s great. It’s why they let the two of us make movies like this, because they think people will come and see it.
This movie was shot around Los Angeles. Were you happy about that?
Chris: I love the fact that with Star Trek, a film that would have very easily been made in Vancouver, Canada, was made right here. There are some bad things associated with being Hollywood, but goddammit, we’re Hollywood, man. That’s what we do, we make movies.
Alex had never directed before. Did that concern you?
Chris: My concern early on was that because he’s spent so much time writing this film that it could very well be precious to him, and something that he would want to protect and navigate with too much control. For an actor, that’s no fun, because you feel constrained and constricted. But Alex, very graciously gave up his script to us and said, ‘Try to make it better.’
Can you talk about the wonderful fallout from being in The Hunger Games?
Elizabeth: I got to meet the president. Does that count? I really love that so many young people loved The Hunger Games. To have so many young people embrace a character [like Effie], as well as the whole movie, has been [wonderful].
All the Star Trek fans dress up. Have you seen anyone dressed as Effie?
Elizabeth: Yes, and [I’m sure] there will be a lot of Effie’s this Halloween! (she laughs)