Any time [movieperson id="97934"]Tony Scott[/movieperson] and [movieperson id="65823"]Denzel Washington[/movieperson] team up on a film, moviegoers can count on blockbuster-scale action sequences, serious acting and a thrilling plot. Their latest effort, and fourth film together overall, is “Unstoppable,” and with “Star Trek” star Chris Pine thrown into the mix, the film has all the makings of a box-office hit when it opens on November 12.
The story, which is loosely based on real events, revolves around seasoned train engineer Frank Barnes (Washington) and newly hired operator Will Colson (Pine). While out doing a training run, they hear a warning of an out-of-control train full of hazardous chemicals careening down the rails on a path toward massive destruction. Barnes and Colson set out on a suicide mission to stop the train before it’s too late.
When MTV News caught up with Pine, we talked about the technicalities and dangers of train operation, his out-of-body experience during his first meeting with Scott and Washington, and the inevitable “Speed” comparisons.
MTV: What kind of training did you get with regard to operating actual trains?
Chris Pine: There’s a little railroad yard in L.A. that — essentially there are different classes of railroad, and this is, I think, maybe a third-level railroad. So we went to that yard and got a chance to hop on the trains, learn what it was like to be in the cab, and what all the various assorted technical jargon was all about. It was a lot of fun. It was like being a kid.
MTV: What does it feel like to operate the trains? Can you feel the power behind the machines?
Pine: Well, the one thing they keep telling you, and it’s so true, is that especially the trains in the yards, they’re very quiet, and obviously the trains are thousands and thousands and thousands of pounds, tons of weight. The guys would tell stories about guys who weren’t paying attention on the tracks, with their backs turned, and very silently a train would creep up, whether it was working on the yard, or whatever was happening at the time, and would crush someone. And there’s no way to stop a train once it’s going. If a train’s going, a train will not stop on a dime. And pretty much to a T, every single one of the conductors or engineers had stories about hitting someone or maiming someone, and each yard has a therapist in place to deal with that. And more often than not, it’s not their fault. People are committing suicide or people are screwed up and accidently left their cars on the tracks. But it can be a pretty grim business.
MTV: Yikes. What was the stunt work like on the film?
Pine: The stunt work was pretty hairy stuff. Again, you’re working with actual trains, obviously, so there’s no CG, there’s nothing fake about it. You know there’s trains going really fast, and you have to hang off trains or jump on the train, and thank god we had a wonderful stunt team behind us. And I had a great stunt double. You know, I would try to do everything I could within reason, but once it got really hairy, that’s when I stepped back and went to video village, got my seat, got my drink, and watched the action unfold with everybody else.
MTV: What was your most impressive feat, stunt-wise?
Pine: Well, if I were to tell you that, I think I’d give away some of the movie, [but] suffice it to say, most of it’s me. If it gets really scary, you can pretty much guarantee it was my wonderful stunt double.
MTV: What was your experience like with Mr. Washington and Mr. Scott?
Pine: Well, I grew up watching their movies. One of the first movies I ever fell in love with was “Top Gun,” and I’ve been watching Denzel since “Glory,” and on and on and on down the line. So, to work with two of my idols was just a dream come true, and I remember a point early on in the process when we all met in Tony’s office in L.A. It was me and Denzel and Tony and we’re kind of shooting the sh– and talking about life, and seeing if our schedules were going to work out to be able to do this movie. And then afterwards, I kind of had this out-of-body experience thing — “I just had a conversation with two of my idols, one of the best actors of all time, one of the best directors of all time. We were talking about maybe doing a film together if our schedules worked out!” [That was] one of those times when you really remember just how lucky you are and how grateful you are to be able to be in the position.
MTV: And for audiences who know you from “Star Trek,” what are they going to get out of this film?
Pine: It’s a lot of fun. Like “Star Trek,” it has the genetic code of the summer tentpole movie. It’s fun. It’s action-packed, and it’s got some really interesting, complex characters to kind of anchor the whole thing. And Tony always talked about how the movie was like a train. You know, once it gets going, it just does not stop, and Tony doesn’t give you much time to rest or settle in your seat before something happens.
MTV: What do you think about the inevitable “Speed” comparisons?
Pine: Well, it’s very much like “Speed” in the sense that … you have two vehicles that are moving, and they’re both capable of inflicting large-scale damage, and it’s up to two people to stop it who are initially at odds. Obviously, Denzel and I don’t fall in love in this one, but there’s a lot of love there for sure.
From the saucy Jessica Alba in “Little Fockers” to James Franco’s grueling journey in “127 Hours,” the MTV Movies team is delving into the hottest flicks of fall 2010. Check back daily for exclusive clips, photos and interviews with the films’ biggest stars.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Unstoppable.”