Chris Pine loves chocolate chip cookies. At least the ones we had the day of the press junket. After a long day of interviews, he and co-star Ben Foster were offered a plate of chocolate chip cookies as they entered the room. Chris took one bite and with obvious pleasure said, “These are incredible! They have that perfect combination of crispy and soft.” It’s nice to know he and I have the same taste in cookies. As they sat down with us, one of the press had an open notebook. Chris looked over at it and said, “The Avengers? Really?” Everyone laughed as he deftly eased the room. It’s those human moments that really make you relate to Chris and Ben which is probably why the two of them did so well portraying their characters in the movie. They bought a relatable human quality just as easily on the screen as they did in person.
Chris Pine portrays Petty Officer First Class Bernie Webber in Disney’s newest film, The Finest Hours based on the true life events of one of the Coast Guard’s greatest rescues. Ben Foster plays Richard Livesey, a veteran Coast Guard seaman who has doubts about Bernie’s abilities but voluntarily joins him on the craft that would be sent out to rescue the survivors of the SS Pendleton. Both Chris and Ben give great performances in this action-packed thriller with heart. More than “just a disaster movie,” The Finest Hours is a character-driven story about people rising beyond expectations.
The character Bernie Webber is unlike any Chris Pine has played before. I asked him what made Bernie different and if that made the role appealing to him. He said to me, “Yeah, when I first met Craig, he kept on mentioning Rocky as kind of the touchstone for the character. I thought that was a very adept, adroit perceptive way in. Especially how Scott wrote the script. [Bernie is] not the sharpest or swiftest guy in many ways, but he’s also very, very adept at his job. He knows that boat. He knows those waters and as much as he’s racked by fear and doubt, he does really know how to use his hands. His body. He’s a soft guy. He’s scared. He’s like a puppy dog. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He loves his woman. He’s just earnest. There’s no complexity above and beyond. What you see with Bernie is what you get. I love that un-cynical throwback quality to him.” Chris played the character so believably that you forget this was the same guy who played Captain Kirk on the Enterprise or the Prince from Into the Woods. Bernie had a real tenderness to him and an innocence that you couldn’t help but root for him.
Chris was asked what made him decide to take the project and he said, “Just the simplicity of it. I love stories that are not all that complicated but that are really well told. I love a clichéd story and this was a beautiful throwback story with a good romance. A guy that loved his girl and wanted to get back to her. A guy that was really scared. Was up against seemingly insurmountable odds. Overcame them.” He went on to say, “…that just to me was like yeah I like that. I liked a hero who was not the obvious one, who wasn’t a rogue, who wasn’t the strong, chiseled-jaw guy. I liked him when he was soft and sweet and big-hearted and kind of doe-eyed. I just – I thought it was really neat.”
When Ben was asked what brought him onboard he shared this very heartfelt response. He told us, “I think it’s really important that we’re reminded of a world that chooses to put someone else in front of them. This world is increasingly self-centered and self-aware and it really warms my heart and gives me some hope, which I think is what we need. There are men and women putting their lives behind somebody else and their saying, ‘That’s a human, I want to take care of that human.’ So for me to sign on yeah. That’s how you hook me.”
And that’s how this movie hooks us all. A heart-warming story that reminds us about the best in humanity.
The Finest Hours opens in theaters nationwide this Friday, January 29th.
- Read the Disney Nerds spoiler-free review of The Finest Hours