Though "People Like Us" star Chris Pine got his start in intimate theater productions, the actor broke out in Hollywood when he starred in 2009's action-laden, big-budget reboot of "Star Trek."
These days, Pine is still learning how to balance his dramatic roots with flashier fare on the big screen: After wrapping production recently on J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" sequel, he's out promoting his upcoming family drama.
Working on a movie without action sequences and green screens was refreshing, Pine said, but also presented an acting challenge. "In a big film, you have explosions and scenes that take months to shoot that are really more about the action than anything you're trying to convey emotionally speaking," the 31-year-old said Friday at the movie's Los Angeles Film Festival premiere.
"With a film like ['People Like Us'], when you get to set, the majority of the time is spent talking about what's said, what's not said -- like, 'Should we talk about this? Maybe that beat really doesn't play here.'
"So the biggest action on a day like that is, 'Does the chair move?'"
In the film, set for release on June 29, Pine plays a young man whose estranged father dies and leaves him $150,000 -- money he's meant to deliver to a sister he never knew he had, played by Elizabeth Banks. The plot is based on the experiences of writer-director Alex Kurtzman, who found out at age 30 that he had a long-lost sister.
Watching Pine play him was an emotional experience, the filmmaker said.
"There were a lot of times where my job as the director on set was to really rein it in and be the controlled one, and inside I was just thinking, 'Oh my God, I can't believe this is happening,'" Kurtzman said. "So many people have said to me, 'You realize that [Pine] was doing you?' But he didn't think that, and I didn't think that, so it's sort of impossible for me to see."
Michelle Pfeiffer, who plays the mother of Pine's character, said she felt more pressure in the role because of Kurtzman's close relationship to the material. The actress, who recently appeared in the vampire comedy "Dark Shadows," said she's hopeful that older moviegoers will turn up to see "People Like Us."
"The movie I saw with the very long name -- 'The Best Marigold Hotel,' or whatever it's called -- look at that movie. It's made huge box office. I do think that audiences are coming for this kind of film. We love the big blockbuster movies -- the action and the supernatural movies. But we love these kinds of films too, and I personally miss them."
Follow Amy Kaufman on Twitter @AmyKinLACopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times