EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: ZACHARY QUINTO ON “THE CHAIR”
Quinto interviews about his new show The Chair, airing on Starz. Two directors are given $600,000 each to create two different films with the same screen play.
Zachary Quinto – The Chair
Hyphenate actor/producer Zachary Quinto is known to many different audiences for many different aspects of his career. Movie audiences know him for his portrayal of Mr. Spock in the reinvented STAR TREK film franchise. On television, the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-born actor was nominated for an Emmy for his work as a psychotic psychiatrist in AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM; he initially came to mass attention as the superpowered villain Sylar in four seasons of HEROES. On stage, Quinto won a 2011 Theatre World Award for his performance in a revival of ANGELS IN AMERICA; last year, he starred alongside Cherry Jones in a revival of THE GLASS MENAGERIE.
Quinto is also a film producer with Corey Moosa and Neil Dodson via their production company Before the Door Pictures. MARGIN CALL, which Quinto also starred in alongside Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Irons, earned an Original Screenplay Oscar nomination for director J.C. Chandor’s script. Last year, executive producer Quinto and filmmaker Chandor reteamed for the man-against-the-sea drama ALL IS LOST.
Now Quinto and Before the Door are moving into television with the ten-part Starz documentary series THE CHAIR, which premieres Saturday, September 6. THE CHAIR follows two different directors, Shane Dawson and Anna Martemucci, who are each given the same screenplay, the same budget ($600,000) and sent to the same city to make their own separate movies, with all of their decisions captured by the documentary crew.
Quinto, along with fellow executive producer Chris Moore and series subjects Dawson and Martemucci, is part of a Q&A session Starz sponsors for THE CHAIR for the Television Critics Association.
On the panel, Quinto discusses his involvement in THE CHAIR and why he feels it will be of interest to viewers. “I would just say I had a certain level of skepticism about involving myself in a documentary series, but I think the thing that I recognize is that this show was made with a certain level of creative integrity, and it truly is a documentation, rather than a manipulation. We stayed out of the way. We captured stuff, and we tell the story of the show based on what actually happened, rather than trying to make things happen. And I think the process of making a film for any director, let alone a first-time director, is dramatic enough in and of itself that it kind of took care of all of [the need for something dramatic to happen onscreen] There were certainly ups and downs, but none of them were created by us. They just existed, and then these guys responded to them and we captured it all.
“I think there’s a lot of inherent drama in filmmaking. I think audiences are really interested in that and understanding how things get done and seeing the weight of the pressure to get it done. Of course, young filmmakers, aspiring filmmakers who want to understand the challenges, the pitfalls, the highs and lows of the process will be really interested in this. From my perspective, and one of the things that really got me and my producing partners interested in this idea, is fostering new voices. We live in a time when it’s much more difficult to cut through the white noise of all the platforms on which people can digest their creative content. To make a name for yourself, it’s much more difficult today than ever before because there are so many ways that people can watch creative content.
“And so I think it’s really important that new voices get championed, that new filmmakers and new storytellers be given a platform to do their jobs and to open up the reality of the fact that on a certain level, six hundred thousand dollars is a significant amount of money no matter how you cut it, so to allow people to watch what these guys do with that money and how they put themselves out into the world and the stories that they want to tell, I think that’s a very important thing today. So when Chris brought us this idea and it fell so completely in line with the kind of project we want to be involved with, it made a lot of sense.”
When the panel finishes, Quinto is available for a bit of follow-up discussion. One obvious question with his two-track career is whether he get different satisfactions out of producing and out of acting.
“Yeah,” Quinto replies. “I love them both. They compliment each other well. I feel like my strengths in one area counterbalance my strengths in another, and I’m learning a lot all the time, and I feel really grateful for the opportunity to be as diversely busy as I am.”
What does producing give Quinto that acting does not? “A little bit more participation,” he relates, “more control in the way stories get told and what I’m putting out into the world. My job as an actor gives me the opportunity to collaborate and work with other people’s vision, and I think my job as a producer allows me to have a little bit of my own vision.”
Without asking him to name which one, does Quinto think one version of the films being made in THE CHAIR is better than the other?
“Yeah,” Quinto acknowledges. “I feel like that’s something that audiences will see for themselves as the series goes on. Honestly, I’m really trying to maintain a neutral stance as I’m putting the show out there, because I really want audiences to have an unbiased experience of it and form their opinion. To me, it’s pretty evident through the process, but obviously, people are going to have their own opinions, and I’m less interested in influencing those opinions than in providing opportunities for people to have their own.”
What else is Quinto doing right now? “I just finished a couple of episodes of GIRLS, which I’m looking forward to, I’ll be part of Season Four of that show, and I’m about to star in an independent film [MICHAEL] in New York with James Franco, which I’m also interested in and looking forward to. And then trying to figure out how to get back on stage and doing another STAR TREK movie and producing two movies for myself to star in, so I have a lot of stuff happening and a lot to look forward to, a lot to be grateful for.”
Is there anything else Quinto would like to say about THE CHAIR? “I would just encourage people to watch it. I’m really excited to be associated with it and really excited to see where it all goes.”
By Abbie Bernstein