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Star Trek: Bruce Greenwood's Pike Is Different From The Original Version In One Way

Each of the four actors to appear as Captain James T. Kirk's ill-fated predecessor, Captain Christopher Pike, has added layers to the character's personality. But portraying an established figure in a decades-old franchise can be tricky; an actor can struggle to balance fans' expectations with bringing something fresh to the role. For Bruce Greenwood, who plays Captain Pike in Star Trek's Kelvin Timeline movies, this challenge was a little bit easier since his iteration was written differently from the original version portrayed by Jeffrey Hunter in "Star Trek: The Original Series."

Before he was cast in "Star Trek," Greenwood possessed only a casual knowledge of the franchise, having watched "The Original Series" mainly for the "hot girls in tight outfits," as he told the official Star Trek website. He felt it was important to learn how fans viewed the character, which meant digging deep into Pike's previous appearances to understand what made the captain tick. As he delved into the Prime Timeline Pike and the new version he'd been cast to play, the actor realized both Pikes were fundamentally different in their attitude toward and overall perception of the duties of command.

Explaining the difference in "The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years: From The Next Generation to J.J. Abrams," Greenwood observed, "The fundamental difference between the Hunter Pike and the Greenwood Pike is that our dilemmas are different, Hunter's being that he was terribly ambivalent about his place in the Federation; he was torn by whether or not he wanted to go back and have a smaller life or that of a commander." In the Kelvin universe, this ambivalence has been stripped away.

Different timelines mean different motivations

The inner turmoil of Jeffrey Hunter's Pike can be seen in the "Original Series" episode "The Cage," with Pike's colleagues taking notice of his burnout. At one point, Senior Medical Officer Dr. Boyce chastises, "Chris, you set standards for yourself no one could meet. You treat everyone on board like a human being except yourself." For his part, Pike seems to be contemplating retirement, telling Boyce, "I'm tired of deciding which mission is too risky and which isn't. And who's going on the landing party and who doesn't. And who lives. And who dies."

Thanks to the butterfly effect and the divergent decision tree flowchart of the Kelvin Timeline, Bruce Greenwood's Pike seems to have averted that burnout — at least up to his early encounters with Kirk. Greenwood told the Star Trek website, "The central dilemma for Jeffrey Hunter is not the central dilemma for my Pike. I was fortunate in that regard, that I wasn't playing the same conflicts." Speaking with Star Trek Magazine, the actor stated, "They are almost opposites [...] Yet you can look at it as though they are two sides of the same coin, because of the parallel universe."

While Prime Timeline Pike longs for a life free from Starfleet responsibilities, Greenwood's Pike isn't free of burdens. They just take another form. According to Greenwood in SciFi Now (via Trek Movie), "My Pike doesn't have an internal wrestling match the way the earlier one did, but he does have second thoughts and misgivings about the way Starfleet is training officers as by-the-book products that may not, at the end of the day, be what's required for a great leader."