In director Janus Metz’s “All the Old Knives,” Chris Pine plays a CIA agent who reconnects with a former colleague and lover (Thandiwe Newton) to find out what she knows about a terrorist hijacking of plane that occurred eight years prior.
The Amazon drama, based on Olen Steinhauer’s 2015 novel of the same name, is told through flashbacks as the two have dinner together at a gorgeous restaurant in Carmel-by-the Sea, Calif. As the meal goes on and wine is consumed, they each begin to remember the horrific hijacking — but also their romance together.
I caught up with Pine, who is sporting a bushy salt-and-pepper beard these days, on Wednesday night at the film’s premiere at the London West Hollywood hotel.
Love the beard. How long did it take to grow out?
It’s sad. It took like six months, but now I have to shave it off.
You don’t want to?
I’m very happy with a beard.
Congratulations on “All the Old Knives.”
Thank you. I watched it last night again with my family at the American Cinematheque and it holds up on the third watch. It’s the best litmus test for an actor that you can sit through the film again and still be wrapped up in the drama.
This was a big passion project for you, right?
It’s happened a couple of times for me. By far, this was one of the best scripts I have ever read. It’s one of the best scripts I have ever read.
What resonated with you the most?
It’s just beautifully written. It’s one of those scripts that you finish and you realize nothing needs to be changed and you have no notes. That is so rare. It’s really a great yarn. It’s a great puzzle. It’s a great whodunit. I remember reading it and being so surprised at how it ends. And it’s a really old fashioned love story that I grew up watching and that we all love. It’s “Casablanca.” It’s “The English Patient” or any of those sweeping love stories. But it just so happens to be wrapped up in this really fun puzzle. I thought, “Well fuck, that’s going to be a great movie.” It will satisfy a lot of people’s appetites.
Speaking of appetites, talk about filming the dinner sequences when you feed Thandiwe some bacon or when she talks about enjoying the “fresh fish.” Lots of meanings behind those moments.
There are all sorts of double heard and subtext. Yeah, that bacon scene has a lot less to do with bacon than with what pops into your head and your imagination.
Janus told me it was the first time you ever worked with an intimacy coordinator.
I had never done that before. You’re doing a sex scene in a bedroom and you have this older woman that’s watching and giving your notes on how to do the sex scene and I’m thinking, “Who is this person telling me how to have sex?” [Laughs.] But it was wonderful. She was lovely. It just takes the pressure off. There’s just no discomfort, because you have someone like a referee making sure it’s all above board and everyone is comfortable. She’s also like a choreographer making sure it all translates well on screen like, “Move your neck” or “Arch your back more.”
What’s the text that went around when you and your “Star Trek” co-stars all decided to do a fourth movie?
I think everybody was like, “Did you hear about this?” [Laughs]. We’re usually the last people to find out, but I do know we’re all excited. Whenever they want to send us a script, we’re ready for it.
Have they told you anything about the story?
We haven’t seen a script. I don’t know anything about it.
So you trust them that much that you signed on without a script?
I don’t trust anybody, but I’m excited. I love the story. I love “Star Trek.” I love my people.
What’s the latest on you playing Walter Cronkite in “Newsflash?”
That’s also one of the best scripts I’ve ever read. It takes place on the day of President Kennedy’s assassination. It’s a span of two hours and it’s one of the most riveting things I’ve ever read. I don’t know if that will happen, when that will happen but it’s certainly something I want to do.
“All the Old Knives” will open in select theaters and stream on Prime Video April 8.