LOS ANGELES – Chris Pine is carving out a career for himself playing military men.
It started with taking on the role of Capt. James T. Kirk for the relaunch of the "Star Trek" franchise. And it continues with his latest film in which he plays coxswain Bernie Webber, the man who commanded a small wooden Coast Guard vessel through hurricane winds and giant waves to save the crew of a sinking oil tanker in 1952.
It wasn't the uniform that caught his eye. Pine was drawn to "The Finest Hours" by the driving action and uncomplicated story.
"There is a simple elegance to it, and I just liked that. It's about ordinary men doing extraordinary things," Pine said. "It's also driven by a very strong romance."
This story is based on actual events, but Pine was unable to talk to Webber, who died in 2009. That meant he had to depend on research, which revealed Webber dealt with a lot of issues, such as his brothers being World War II heroes while he never saw duty outside the United States.
Much of Pine's insight to Webber came from an audio recording he was given in which the hero talks about his life and that eventful mission.
"The tape was Bernie talking to a small-town newspaper 15 years later," Pine said. "You could tell he was so bored of talking about it. He's just a by-the-books regular Joe. It was very illuminating for me, and I drew whatever I could out of that."
Pine saw Webber as a man who never got the same attention from his father that his brothers did and eventually became the black sheep of the family. That changed on that fateful night in 1952 when he led three men on the rescue mission. The act is still considered the greatest small boat rescue in Coast Guard history.
All of which made playing Webber more than another job for Pine.
"That's the joy of this job. We have the privilege of spending time with the real Chatham Coast Guard," he said. "It's always humbling to be around men and women in the military … who put their fellow man first and not for self-congratulatory purposes."
That's what Pine and the other actors focused on when they were filming and were constantly drenched with waves of icy water. They all knew they were going through the discomfort for a movie, while the real men did it to save lives.
Pine isn't done with his military-related duties. He'll be back in more "Star Trek" films. He also will play Capt. Steve Trevor in the upcoming "Wonder Woman" movie.
"I like having a job. I am in the .0001 percentile of actors that works steadily. Thank God," Pine said. "That's not false humility. I am just really happy to work. I get great gigs. I meet awesome people. I get paid well. I have an awesome life."