By virtue of his success as Kirk, Pine has graduated from the audition mill. "I was petrified auditioning. It was torture," he says. "But there's something I loved about it. I always felt like I was going into battle. People would sit in the waiting room having casual conversations, and I'd be apart from them, preparing to just destroy, envisioning the detritus of my victims around me."
A week after his 30th birthday, Pine is in his kitchen in Silver Lake eating tuna salad and washing dishes. "There were no major anxiety attacks," he reports. He ended up in Mexico for vacation, renting a beach house outside Puerto Vallarta. "I had my solo adventure," he says, and by this he means an adventure of the mind. "It was like being on the beach in those Corona commercials," Pine says. "Empty." Days spent in an idyll, yes, but also devoted to reading charged political tomes from the American Empire Project by Chalmers Johnson and Andrew Bacevich.
When Pine returned, his parents cooked him a birthday dinner at their house. "A Pine staple," he says. "Steak on the grill, heirloom tomatoes, some corn, a bottle of wine." He's off again soon for Vancouver to shoot This Means War with Reese Witherspoon and Inception's Tom Hardy. "It's a rom-actsh-com," Pine says. "A romantic action comedy. Or maybe it's com-actsh-rom? Executives probably use these terms all the time. 'We need more com-actsh-roms!' It sounds like a Hare Krishna temple."
Pine sounds lighter after his break, energized. He laughs more easily too. "I think I've given you this picture of myself that sounds way less fun than I think it is," he says. But he knows there's room for improvement.
Over lunch, Pine had admitted that he never dates when he's working. "I get in the rabbit hole," he'd said. "I disappear. It's how I'm programmed. Work takes up a lot of my brain space. So when I work, it's one thing. I don't have a lot of time to think about dating."
As he finishes his tuna, he changes his tune. He realizes his peaking career won't allow him the luxury of overanalyzing or compartmentalizing. "I'm learning to break the old patterns," says Pine. "I'm 30 now. I might as well enjoy every second of it. If there's some beautiful ladies up in Vancouver, hopefully I'll know to get out of my head."
MORE ON CHRIS PINE:
Chris Pine's Career Time Line: From a bit player on ER to leading man in Star Trek
See more photos of the Unstoppable star
Check out our behind-the-scenes video from the cover shoot