Zachary Quinto: I'm intellectual and compassionate, just like Spock
Heroes actor Zachary Quinto, 35, talks to Metro about the second series of American Horror Stories and the likenesses between him and his Star Trek character Spock.
How is this series of American Horror Stories different to the first?
This series is more of an exploration of fear. People will find it more paced and heart-stopping as it goes along. The characters are really well defined and multidimensional. I’ve had a great time working on the show.
It’s scarier, then?
It is for me. It explores ideas around what is fantasy, what is reality and what is evil. It’s got a little bit more of a visceral undercurrent. It holds up a bold mirror to the audience and asks what they’re scared of.
What are you scared of?
As I’ve been working on the show and thinking of the things we conjure on set every day, I’ve had more of a hyper-awareness of the energy around us. I was sitting in my house the other night and I was convinced there was movement outside. What’s lurking there? We’re tiptoeing into the realm of darkness. I’m in touch with what that means to us as individuals. I try not to be driven by fear. I try to be as fearless as I can be. There’s nothing I can’t cope with.
Anything more mundane? Like spiders?
I used to be scared of cockroaches but after years of living in New York I’ve got over that one. I’m pretty well adjusted.
Adam Levine of Maroon 5 is in American Horror Stories. Do you fancy a foray into the music business?
I love music and I’m musical but it’s not where my career path took me. He’s done a great job bridging the gap between his mammoth career as a rock star and doing things like this, so if I have an opportunity to do something similar in reverse I’d take it but I don’t know what that would look like at the moment.
What can you play on the banjo?
I’ve just learned The Rainbow Connection [from The Muppet Movie]. I don’t know if I’m fully there yet. I’ve only started playing in earnest in the past three months. Somehow, I don’t think Maroon 5 are going to take me on the road to play with them.
You’re part of a group of gay celebrities who have issued an endorsement message for Obama – why’s that?
I’m such a supporter of our president and I’m hopeful he’ll win the election. It’s the only option for our country that makes sense. I’m increasingly troubled by the divisiveness of our society and it was a great honour to be asked to participate in that video – especially in the year I came out and was able to become an advocate on behalf of the LGBT community.
Has coming out had an impact on the work you’re offered?
I’m just more able to be authentic in my life – the only impact it’s had on my career is the enormous support I’ve received from all over the world and within the industry. I’m motivated and inspired to continue doing good work and be defined by the work that I do. I’m grateful to be surrounded by people who have facilitated that.
You’ve been papped with your partner, Glee actor Jonathan Groff, recently. How do you feel about that?
It’s an unfortunate but inevitable by-product of being in the public eye in this celebrity obsessed culture we live in. I find it intrusive, invasive and distasteful but professionally I understand why that’s part of what we do and there’s no avoiding it. I choose the path of least resistance. I have very little control over that and no forewarning of when I may or may not be photographed, so I just live my life and don’t make allowances for that disrespectful intrusiveness – but I don’t have it as bad as others. It’s just part of what we do and is reflective of our culture and that demand for tawdry, inane information that people have grown accustomed to. I’m not going to single-handedly change that but I’m not going to allow it to diminish my personal experience or affect my life in an adverse way.
What’s the worst job you’ve had?
I worked in a hardware store when I was in high school, which was pretty bad because I was the young guy surrounded by older guys who thought they knew everything about everything on sale. It was one of those environments where I was the underdog at every turn. Then I worked in a cockroach-infested restaurant before I went to college but it helped me get over my fear of cockroaches. I’d never want to be a waiter again but I think about the jobs I had fondly and with the nostalgia of distance.
Did the hardware shop turn you into a DIY expert?
I’m not the handiest of fellows. I enjoy learning about how stuff works but I’m very fortunate that my older brother is much handier than I am and is willing to help out.
What do you have in common with Spock?
I have a dualistic self. There are two sides of my personality: one is outgoing and gregarious; the other is introspective and thoughtful. I am an intellectually minded person and also very compassionate, which are qualities Spock possesses as well.