Greenwood grateful for Pike's chance to soar in 'Star Trek Into Darkness'

Acclaimed actor returns to sequel after 4-year wait

Published On: Dec 24 2013 06:26:39 AM EST   Updated On: Sep 20 2013 07:19:04 PM EDT
Chris Pine and Bruce Greenwood in 'Star Trek Into Darkness(4)

Spoiler alert: For those who didn't see the film in theaters, details of the latest "Star Trek" film, "Star Trek Into Darkness," are discussed in this interview with Bruce Greenwood about the home video release of the film.

Any fan of the "Star Trek" franchise certainly knows the name of the famous "The Next Generation" finale, which was appropriately called, "All Good Things ..." And if they've continued on with mission of director J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" with the 2009 reboot and this summer's blockbuster hit "Star Trek Into Darkness," then they had to have had a feeling that some of those good things -- including the trek of some beloved characters -- would have to come to an end.

Unfortunately, for Bruce Greenwood -- who stars in both films in the pivotal role of Captain-turned-Admiral Christopher Pike -- his missions won't continue on with the film franchise in the future, save any possible flashback scenes.

"It was an incredible thing to be given the chance to be in the first one and join that train, and the second one likewise," Greenwood told me in a recent interview. "Of course, there was the waiting for a two or three years with baited breath to find out if Pike would fade into obscurity or whether he would go out in some kind of glory."

Of course, neither scenario is favorable from a long-term employment standpoint, but thankfully Greenwood had his druthers and the exit strategy for the charismatic character involved the latter.


"J.J. called me before I read the script and said, (feigning a sad voice) 'I gotta tell you, man, it doesn't take long until you die, but the whole thing hinges on your death,' and I went, 'Oh, God, really? Can't you kill somebody else?" Greenwood recalled, laughing.

New on DVD and Blu-ray (Paramount Home Media Distribution) Tuesday, "Star Trek Into Darkness" finds Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), First Officer Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the crew of the Starship Enterprise fighting the mysterious John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), a deadly new threat hidden within Starfleet.

It's Harrison's actions that cause the death of Pike in front of Kirk and Spock, leaving Kirk hell-bent on exacting revenge on his new nemesis, and not exactly realizing he's a pawn in a much bigger ploy that could lead to drastic implications within the Federation.

Pike's doomed fate shouldn't come as a complete surprise to those familiar with the "Star Trek" canon, insofar as the first iteration of the character (first played by Jeffrey Hunter, then by Sean Kenney), was dropped after the pilot episode only to meet a fate as a paralyzed, mute and badly scarred follow-up episode "The Menagerie."

To that end, Greenwood said he feels fortunate to have had as big an opportunity as he did for the character to appear in both the 2009 and 2013 films. On one hand, he figured the character had a shot at making it because of his tenure in the Federation.

"Because was an authority figure, I figured that Pike would be sending the kids out to do the heavy lifting," Greenwood said. "So I imagined being in that position, I'd be stuck back at home and not having the chance to go to any fun planets, and at least being out of harm's way, but no!"

But as a 35-year veteran with dozens of film and television projects to his credit, Greenwood, 56, well understands going into any project that the story has to come first.

Greenwood said the thought of disappointment because of Pike's demise never once entered his mind; instead, he saw the destiny of his character as poetic.

"J.J. gave me gave me something really fun to do, and it would be absurdly greedy of me to think (mimicking a spoiled child's voice), 'Well, I wanna do a third one!'" Greenwood cracked. "Besides, there's no saying in the third one, had I survived, regardless, if they would have said Pike was a necessary character. He became a very important character in this iteration and I was glad to become a part of in it that way."