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Zachary Quinto on Starring in ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ and When the Next ‘Star Trek’ Film Will Happen


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Most moviegoers know him as Mr. Spock in the Star Trek franchise, but Zachary Quinto is first and foremost a theater rat. A nominee and winner of numerous awards for his work in plays like Angels in America, The Glass Menagerie and more recently, The Boys in the Band, he’s now undertaking perhaps his toughest stage role to date — George in the Edward Albee classic, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Opening April 28 at Los Angeles’ Geffen Playhouse, the new production, directed by Gordon Greenberg, also stars Aimee Carrero as Honey, Graham Phillips as her husband, Nick, and Calista Flockhart as George’s besotted wife, Martha.

In the well-known play — which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year — George and Martha spend a drunken evening entertaining Nick and Honey at their home on the campus of a small New England university where both men are professors. As the booze flows and the hours tick by, Nick and Honey bear witness to the drunken hostility that defines their hosts’ marriage. But soon they, too, are pulled into the fray.

“George is someone who wrestles with a lot of inadequacy. On some levels, I would call it a failed ambition but on other levels, an absent ambition,” Quinto tells The Hollywood Reporter during a break in rehearsals. “There’s left in the balance this kind of contraction that he starts the play with. And part of the way that contraction expands is through the psychological dynamic that he shares with Martha. Something is at stake for them that’s never been at stake before, which is the survival of their marriage, the integrity of it.”

George was believed to have great potential when he married Martha, daughter of the school’s president. In the 23 years since, he has languished, drowning his disappointment in alcohol-fueled bouts with his wife. “There’s a power position George occupies as the man of the house and the bartender of the night. He keeps Martha in the degree of drunkenness she’s grown accustomed to. But the way he manipulates Nick and Honey through how much he serves them — for every drink George has, Nick and Honey have at least two, if not more.”

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Zachary Quinto and Calista Flockhart in Edward Albee’s ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ at Geffen Playhouse, directed by Gordon Greenberg.

Justin Bettman

Quinto, who doesn’t drink, hasn’t bothered himself with the theatrical exigencies of playing drunk. Instead, his focus is on what happens when guardrails fall off, when inebriation teases out unspoken truths. The result is a storm of shouting and tears that defines much of the play.

“My belief is George and Martha very much love one another and are very much meant to survive,” says Quinto. “What’s so masterful about this play, 255 minutes are a knock-about, drag-out affair. But the last five minutes offer a glimpse of forgiveness, tenderness, unification in a way that is a masterful stroke on Albee’s part.”

The playwright’s third play, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? won a Tony for best play and was selected for the Pulitzer Prize by the drama jury, but was overruled by the organization’s advisory committee which opted not to award a drama prize that year. The 1966 film adaptation was nominated for 13 Oscars and won five, including one for Elizabeth Taylor. If the Pulitzer felt like the one that got away, Albee needn’t have worried. He subsequently won the award three times for A Delicate Balance, Seascape and Three Tall Women.

It could be kismet, but there’s crossover between Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? And Star Trek. No, Spock will not spend the recently announced new installment of the franchise drunkenly stumbling around the bridge of the USS Enterprise. Instead, he will be taking orders from Matt Shakman, artistic director of The Geffen Playhouse, who will direct the new film, with a working title of Star Trek 4. (It would be the 14th film in the Star Trek franchise.)

But like fellow castmates Chris Pine (Captain Kirk) and Karl Urban (who plays McCoy), Quinto was blindsided by the announcement that the new film aims to shoot by year’s end.

“I don’t know that we will do it this year. I don’t know when it will happen. And I always maintain that I would love to do it,” he says, despite having not yet seen a script, which is being written by Lindsey Beer and Geneva Robertson-Dworet. “But until I get something concrete — ‘We’re shooting this day, here’s your script, get ready’ — I’m in a wait and see pattern. I’m not really attached to it in any way until I have much more definitive certainty that it’s actually happening.”

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Zachary Quinto.

Chiun Kai Shih

He went on to note that studio movies of the scale of Star Trek often begin in fits and starts, but he’s confident the film will happen. The property is a key franchise for Paramount, and the studio needs content for theatrical release and its streaming platform, Paramount+.

“There’s so many different platforms for content. And where that content’s coming from and how it’s getting made, and how it fits into people’s schedules and other commitments and stuff is always the hurdle. But I hope that we’ll get to assemble the crew one more time. It’s a great ensemble and we love each other,” he offers. “And I think I can speak for everyone and say we’d love to find a way to come back and do another one.”

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