Highly logical, for a human

Special to The Times

Zachary Quinto spent the holidays back home in Pittsburgh. He’s lived in Los Angeles for eight years; he plays Sylar on “Heroes” and is the new Spock for J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek,” which is shooting now.

Los Angeles seems to have a certain sense of pride and destiny now.

The strike is an incredibly unifying force in terms of the people that are creating stuff here. It’s a really challenging time -- I think the energy of the city, the psyche of the city, reflects that. It’s bringing people together who might not be together against a larger force. From that emerges a sense of pride and confidence about what people are creating here.


What happened on the “Heroes” set when the strike came on?

As it became clearer and clearer that that was going to devolve and there was going to be a strike, the tone of things on set just sort of shifted. There was no formal conversation -- we have screenings every Friday on our lunch break of the episode about to air. By that time the strike had already happened. . . . All of a sudden the writers weren’t there. An unexpected, unwanted vacation for everybody.

It’s the crew of our show I think about the most -- the people who work the hardest, in terms of their physical contribution and the hours they spend at work. It’s so unfortunate how far-reaching the ramifications of this are. . . . The unfortunate need for the sacrifice of individuals to benefit for the group is uncomfortable and painful. The crew doesn’t benefit from the outcome of the negotiations. That’s a difficult thing for me.

Compounding it is I ended on “Heroes” on Friday and started on “Star Trek” on Monday. To be working through this and to be required to work is also really strange. It’s a combination of feeling really fortunate and oddly awkward and guilty and weird.

I never did see an account of your “Star Trek” audition -- how was the first meeting?

I had an audition . . . in April of 2007, and then I went away: I left town two days later for two months. I was in Europe and New York and all over the place. I imagine had I been in Los Angeles it would have been more nerve-racking. But as it was, I was traveling and having this life experience that allowed me to detach from the structure of Los Angeles. . . . Then I got back in June on my birthday, and when I was in New York my manager called and said they’re moving forward.

What revelations did you have while traveling?

This trip was particularly revelatory for me coming off of the show and having such a crazy year in Hollywood. I say there’s nothing better to keep your feet on the ground than the weight of a backpack. It doesn’t matter who you are and what you do for a living in the countryside of Germany. . . . It was about reminding myself of the place that I’m in in the world -- not just in this town in this industry, in a much larger spectrum. .

Do you spend your nights playing guitar -- or baking?

I immerse myself in things very passionately right away. I’m a Gemini, so I go 110% for a while and then think, “OK, what else is shiny?” So I do a lot of different things. I try to keep myself busy in different ways. The answer is different now than for when I’m doing press in a year. I don’t like to pin myself down. You’re very articulate about these sorts of things, and I don’t mean “for an actor.”

I spend a lot of time thinking about them.

Do you?

I do consider myself -- one of the things I do for fulfillment is I do spend my time sort of exploring myself and my perspective. And self-awareness is something that I value greatly, and I spend a fair amount of time cultivating it.

You’ve clearly learned about the dangers of talking to the press -- and the consumption of the individual.

The insidiousness of public interest in celebrity is at a fever pitch. It’s dangerous to the psyche. It’s indicative of our larger societal problems. . . . It’s very frustrating to be involved in an industry that perpetuates a detachment from what’s really going on. . . .

“Where are you going and who with and what clubs?” -- guys! There’s some serious stuff going on in the world that we should be collectively acknowledging at least. So I bear that in mind as I immerse myself more fully in the center ring. But there’s elements that appeal to me and I enjoy. I love to meet people, and I love to go out. . . . It’s a delicate line. The cultivation of self-awareness comes into play -- otherwise known as therapy.