They say it's the quiet ones you have to watch. That seems to be the case with Chris Pine. Yes, he is the current Captain James T. Kirk of the revived Star Trek franchise but now he's also a Jack of all trades - the tall, blue-eyed actor is the new Jack Ryan in the new Tom Clancy reboot, taking over from where Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck left off. And he's the voice of Jack Frost in Rise of the Guardians, a new animated film from DreamWorks based on William Joyce's series of children's books. That makes Pine a star in three Hollywood franchises.
"You know, I'm loving it," Pine says of his career. "The great thing about my perch on that totem pole is that it's very low and for the most part I have my anonymity, which I like. Granted there is a lot of abnormal, extraordinary stuff, like flying to Cannes for Rise of the Guardians and visiting Sydney for the world premiere of Star Trek. But generally I live a pretty cool under-the-radar kind of life."
Pine says he can empathise with his icy cartoon character. "There's a sensitivity to Jack that he masks. He's the outsider, he's always been the outsider; he's never been part of the group. At the same time, he's kind of a blowhard. He doesn't want to give it up so easily. It's hard for him to let down his guard and open up his heart to these guys. This is the point of the film. Initially all the guardians are selfish but then they come together."
Jack Frost is a prankster with superpowers who has been leading a Peter Pan-style existence for 300 years. Since humans can't see him, he feels sadly underappreciated.
"He is a really sad boy who doesn't have a family and is dying to know who he is and where he comes from," says Pine."It's a simple story really but the meaning of this movie is that there's something untouched and wonderful about the childhood imagination.
"I think the gift of these superheroes, these guardians, is not exploding stuff and bows and arrows and all of that, but the power to believe. Their desire is to make these children believe in everything and we, as adults, have the ability to do that too."
Was it nice to slip back into the uniform again for Star Trek Into Darkness?
"Oh I loved it - it's no hyperbole," he insists. "We have a great group and it's a really tight community of people I go back to work for. I just met Scarlett Johansson the other day and we talked about her experience on The Avengers and it sounds similar - that it's such a huge film but at least if the people you get to work with every day have a sense of family, it makes the time pass that much easier and it does make you look forward to going back to work."
It also meant reviving his mateship with New Zealand's own Karl Urban, who plays Dr Bones McCoy.
"I love Karl. I f***ing love Karl Urban. I really do. He has a tender place in my heart. Karl is the best looking geek on the planet. He is such a geek. And I mean that in the most loving way. All of us really get along because we are so different."
And Pine will cap off the year as Clancy's CIA analyst (last portrayed by Affleck in 2002) in Jack Ryan, in which he co-stars with Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner and Kenneth Branagh, who also directs.
"It's about the birth of the character. They are revamping the whole thing. It's the story of how Jack Ryan became the Jack Ryan we know from the former series. The interesting thing now is that it's 2012, so it's a different kind of American spy movie. In 1989 you could make a Cold War story easily, by discerning between good guys and bad guys, but in 2012 it's more difficult. The wars are much greyer now. So it will be an interesting and, hopefully, intelligent film."
Who: Chris Pine
What: The Guardians (screening now); Star Trek Into Darkness (May 16); Jack Ryan (due end of 2013)