- Photography by Mr Robbie Fimmano
- Styling by Mr Bruce Pask | Words by Mr Jonathan Hey
Although the character he is most identified with - the half-vulcan, half-human Mr Spock of the 2009 and 2013 rebooted Star Trek movies - is hardly known for his chic daywear or the way he rocks a pair of jeans, off-screen the actor Mr Zachary Quinto has become something of a fashion plate.
He flew relatively under the radar in Los Angeles, but the 36 year old, who now lives in New York and is currently starring in a glorious revival of Mr Tennessee Williams' memory play The Glass Menagerie, has become a regular on the party circuit. He has been known to show up at a CFDA party in a classic yet contemporary grey suit made for him by his friend, Mr Todd Snyder, and attend a Met Ball in an eye-catching waistcoat, his hair tinted an electric blue to complement the evening's punk theme.
"It's more a matter of trying to make sure I'm wearing things that fit well but that are not boring," says Mr Quinto in his dressing room upstairs at the Booth Theater, where in a few hours he will take to the stage in Mr Williams' 1945 play. "As a guy, that's a little more of a challenge than if you're able to wear a big gown. We have to work with fewer resources. It becomes about the details. Cufflinks. Tie bars. Do you have a break in your trousers or is it a shorter hem? I've learnt a lot about tailoring: what fits and what lines are good for me and my body type."
Today, a particularly cold Friday in Times Square, Mr Quinto is wearing a pair of dark, slim-fitting jeans and a cashmere sweatshirt - his "typical New York uniform" - before he'll change into his period costume.
When you're doing a play as masterful as this, it will always support you. I put on my clothes and it just becomes a different space. Anything is possible
"New York is more about function over form," he says. "LA's a little more about how things look. Here, there's less time to think about it. I put less thought and effort into it. I will literally wear the same thing for a few days because my days are spent running around."
Even growing up in Pennsylvania, and then during his student days at Carnegie Mellon University, fashion was always something that piqued his interest. "If I look back, I used to be a little more flagrant or a little more on the nose with trying to put crazy patterns together," says Mr Quinto as he uses a Thera Cane to work his back, a pre-stage routine suggested by his massage therapist. "I've always been interested in a plaid with a stripe, or some kind of pattern that is offset by something that's different. But now I try to do it in a subtler way. It's still there if you're looking for it, but it's not screaming for attention."
When Mr Quinto's career was just getting going, he explains that what he wore "didn't matter because no one was looking at me". Since starring in NBC's hit sci-fi drama Heroes, however, not to mention the blockbuster Star Trek films and two seasons in the hit series American Horror Story, "there's more attention paid to these kind of things. That's a crash course in and of itself."
People are paying even more attention to Mr Quinto since The Glass Menagerie opened. His portrayal of aspiring poet Tom Wingfield, a man desperate to escape the confines of his overbearing mother (played by Ms Cherry Jones) and his immature, disabled sister, has earned him the best reviews of his career, with the The New York Times describing it as "kinetically charged" and "career-defining".
Mr Quinto says that since performances began in the early autumn he has settled into a "comfort and familiarity" with the character. "When you're doing a play as masterful as this, it will always support you," he says. "It falls into place every night. I put on my clothes and it just becomes a different space. Anything is possible."
From left: Messrs Paul Bettany, Spacey, Quinto and Penn Badgley in the
acclaimed 2011 financial drama. Photo: Rex Features
GIRL WALKS INTO A BAR
Mr Quinto as dentist Nick in the 2011 ensemble comedy produced
exclusively for internet distribution. Photo: Rex Features
AMERICAN HORROR STORY
Mr Quinto as psychiatrist Dr Oliver Thredson in the first season of the US
television series, 2011. Photo: Kobal Collection
STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS
From left: Messrs Quinto and Chris Pine in the 2013 blockbuster. Photo: TM, ® & Copyright © 2013 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved
THE GLASS MENAGERIE
Ms Jones and Mr Quinto in the Broadway production of the play, directed
by Mr John Tiffany, September 2013. Photo: New York Times/eyevine
The same, apparently, goes for life in New York, where Mr Quinto has decided to become a full-time resident. "I've always wanted to live here," he says. "The past 13 years of working in LA were a lot about figuring out when and how to get back here. I love Los Angeles, it's a beautiful city, but it has no soul. It requires so much more effort. Here, you step outside of your apartment and you never know where it's going to take you."
The irony, however, is that since leaving Los Angeles it's not just his career in front of the camera that is taking off. With two long-time friends - Messrs Neal Dodson and Corey Moosa - Mr Quinto founded the production company Before The Door. Its 2011 film Margin Call, about the initial moments before the 2007-2008 financial crisis and starring Messrs Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons and Ms Demi Moore (with Mr Quinto also in a role), was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Before The Door's latest, All is Lost, which stars Mr Robert Redford - and only Mr Redford - has received universal acclaim for its ingenuity and use of cinema to portray a man lost at sea after a sailboat accident.
Mr Quinto says that many actors talk about creating their own material but that they need the right people in their corner to help them jump through all the Hollywood hoops. "I have to focus on my career as an actor primarily in order to give myself any credit or leverage to run this company to begin with," he explains.
But mostly, Mr Quinto insists, "I've learnt that it's possible to make really good films and to have everybody enjoy the process of doing it. And that's a great thing to know." As of now, Before The Door has about six projects in active development and is looking for vehicles for Mr Quinto, which could potentially include a cable television series with "a really unique character" that he would not elaborate on.
For the moment, however, Mr Quinto is trying to decide what to do when The Glass Menagerie closes. The last time he finished a play in New York - a revival of Angels in America - he took a month-long trek to Peru by himself. "That's a different thing than going on vacation," he says. Right now, he's considering India, though Bora Bora might win out.
"That's my dream jam," he says of the Pacific island. "It might be time for a beach."
The Glass Menagerie runs until 23 February 2014 at Booth Theater, New York. booth-theater.com