Zachary Quinto is looking to unwind — and luckily enough, the coming month is dedicated to just that. The 41-year-old actor is packing up for a month of personal travel as soon as he wraps “The Boys in the Band,” which comes to a close this weekend following a much-discussed nearly four-month run at the Booth Theatre. His time onstage as Harold is one he’s in need of processing in a deeper, more prolonged way than previous roles.
“I’ve learned about myself that I definitely need time and perspective to really be able to digest — especially with a play,” he says over the phone on a recent rainy morning, en route to the gym for a workout ahead of back-to-back performances. “When you do the same thing every night for months on end, there is a kind of physical invasion about the experience — it gets into your body. And that takes time to work out and to let go of. I do feel like this [coming] month for me is about that — I need to step away and look back.”
Quinto admits to doing a share of processing the play’s significance throughout the run’s many press commitments, but says any true reflection will come once he steps away from it.
“I was really surprised at how audiences responded to the work — it’s a 50-year-old play. There was a part of me going into it that wondered if-slash-how it would resonate with contemporary audiences,” he says. “But people have been really connected to the themes and the ideas in the show; I think it’s really reflected back to audiences how far we’ve come in 50 years, but I think it’s also really reflected back to audiences how similar our experiences are today. And I think it also, in a way, transcends gay identity as well. There is something very human about these characters and the way that they interact and the way that they deal with each other. And ultimately it’s a play about people trying — and in many cases failing — to love themselves. And that certainly has not gotten any easier in our world, 50 years after the play, no matter whether you’re gay or straight or otherwise. I feel like that’s really been illuminating to me, to see that and to see how audiences connect to that.”
His next project remains to be determined — he’s busy reading scripts, and has his sights on doing television — but he’s been at no shortage of work to discuss this summer. In late July, the revival of “In Search Of” premiered on the History channel, which features Quinto in the role as host, one originated by his “Star Trek” Spock predecessor Leonard Nimoy. The show, which airs Friday nights, explores scientific phenomena all over the world, with Quinto on the ground leading the explorations.
“It was important for me to be on the ground. If I’m going to do this, I don’t want to be a talking head,” he says, having been initially approached about the concept around a year ago. “I am a curious person, so I feel like if I am going to look into anything then I want to do it — I want to know what we’re presenting. I feel like if I was going to do it, then I wanted to take it in a new direction. It wasn’t formatted that way; the original series was more about Leonard hosting in a traditional sense, and I just felt like I needed to have my own experience of it, if I was going to step into that role. It was as much about taking the show in a new direction as it was about challenging myself.”
Such challenges called on him to be open-minded to all encounters, particularly those meetings with people who were “sometimes a little bit out there.”
“I was definitely skeptical; when someone tells you that they used a Tesla-invented device to travel through time portals and transport back to an entirely different era, that’s hard to believe,” he says. “And so it was my responsibility to separate out from my personal beliefs, and give them an opportunity to tell their stories. I tried to be as objective as I could.”
It’s much of the same with his approach to his career at this juncture: being open, being objective and looking to tell stories as best he can.
“That’s part of the whole nature of the show: exploring these mysteries from different experiences and different perspectives,” he says of “In Search Of.” “It was never my job in the course of filming the show to undermine or invalidate or dismiss anyone’s experience. I feel like it was my job to let them tell their stories.”
More From the Eye: