While Heroes fans see him weekly as the enigmatic TV villain Sylar, Zachary Quinto opened himself up to a whole new audience — and world of fans — when he donned the pointy ears of Spock in J.J. Abrams‘ popular Star Trek movie reboot last summer. Now, he’s utilizing his voice talents in the new Star Trek Online game, a kind of World of Warcraft for the live-long-and-prosper set. In stores Tuesday, the PC game features Quinto as Emergency Medical Hologram 6.0, who walks gamers through tutorials as they begin their mission and tweak their customizable characters. I talked with the busy actor yesterday about the game, as well as the future of Heroes and his production company Before the Door Pictures, so read below for our conversation and check out a behind-the-scenes clip of Quinto voicing his character.
Art courtesy of USA Today, Atari, Paramount Pictures
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First there was Spock, and now there’s the video game. Is it exciting to become even more a part of this universe?
I don’t really think you can be more a part of the Star Trek universe than playing Spock so I don’t really see it like that. I’m actually about to step out of the Star Trek universe for an extended period of time, so I thought it was a good opportunity to have a creative experience in voicing a character, which I’ve never really done before, and do it in familiar territory and give the fans something that they can be excited about it.
Are you much of a gamer? Have you ever played one of these massive role-playing games?
No. [Laughs] I don’t have time. I’m staggered by how much time you can actually spend in these universes, and this was certainly no exception. It’s very impressive. I hope the people who do have that kind of time and inclination are satisfied by it.
What’s more neat: voicing a video game character or having an action figure of yourself?
You know, it’s all icing at this point, man. It’s like, “Really? Both of those things exist?!” I have to say the action figure, because I have two action figures. That’s the trump card.
You really have been embraced by a vast majority of the Trek faithful.
It’s cool. I’m looking forward to inviting the Star Trek fan base into other territory with me as an actor and a producer and potentially as a writer-director or whatever else comes down the line. If contributing to them and to the things they’re excited by helps that, then I’m happy to do it.
Is there anything in particular you’re going to start working on?
My production company just got financing for our first independent feature, Margin Call, so we’ll be shooting that in New York in the springtime. I’ll be in it. I won’t star in it, and I’ll be one of the producers on the movie. I’m really excited about that, and then there’s a bunch of other stuff that we’re developing down the line. It’s a lot to look forward to.
Was that always a goal when you started acting: to make your own stuff and utilize a different creative side?
It was a goal that evolved with my opportunities. I begin to see that I didn’t want to be the kind of actor who sat around and waited for the phone to ring. I feel like I have a lot to say, and I have a lot of creative and inspiring friends who have been a part of my journey for many years and who are enormously talented but on a lot of levels lack one thing, which is opportunity. The fact that I was in a situation where I could facilitate opportunities for other people was also a motivating factor in starting the company. Telling my own stories, yes, but being more in control of the journey of my career. But I never thought of it when I was waiting tables and trying to get a guest-star role on a TV show. Only at a certain level did it start to make sense, and once I reached that level, I set the wheels in motion and it was a pretty fast experience.
Will Heroes always have a special place in your heart since it first put you out on a national level and perhaps led to some of those opportunities?
I have a deep respect and sense of responsibility to the creative team at Heroes or that reason, yes. But I also have an understanding of the way network television works, and that doesn’t fulfill me quite as much as the creative side of things. So I’m conflicted. I feel most grateful and most loyal to [creator] Tim Kring and the producers of the show, but they fit in a larger context that I feel ambivalent to at best.
When will you hear about a next season of Heroes, if there is one? Is that coming down the pipeline or something you’re planning for?
I really have no idea. Nobody at NBC/Universal seems to be in a position to be forthcoming with information because I don’t think they know what’s going on. We’re all in a holding pattern, we’re all waiting to see what happens, and if we go back for another season, when that would happen. I’m really not sure what’s going to happen with the show. It’s a strange place to be with it.
Growing up, did you have an enthusiasm for things like Heroes or Star Trek, and does that power your interest in them now?
Actually, no. My enthusiasm about Star Trek and my relationship to it is all very recent. I was never interested in it growing up, any of the iterations of the show. I’d seen a couple episodes of the original series just because it was so pervasive in our culture. I really cultivated an appeciation for it through my experiences with Spock, really.
After Margin Call, do you go straight to filming the Star Trek sequel? Do you have any updates on that yet?
It looks like I’ll be doing a couple of projects between now and then. They’re just now beginning to write the Star Trek sequel so my feeling is that it probably won’t be in production until early next year, 2011.
Excited to put the Spock ears back on?
I’m really looking forward to it, the process. It would be really interesting for all of us to return to the thing that ultimately will always be known for what started our film careers for the most part at this level. I know for myself that’s true. I’m really excited about it, with the perspective that I have and will have then. To step back into that character and that world will be really rewarding.
The projects that you’ll be working on in the meantime, are they dramas, comedies or all over the place?
There’s a lot of drama going on right now. [Laughs] I’m going to be desperate to do a comedy at the end of it all.