Zachary Quinto Zachary Quinto

Lights! Camera! Quinto! The new Starz reality competition series The Chair follows two first-time directors, Anna Martemucci and Shane Dawson, as they make their own unique feature films from the same screenplay, using the same budget and location city (Pittsburgh), then take them through theatrical release. Their mentor for the process is actor Zachary Quinto, Spock in the recent Star Trek films, who finds the whole thing most logical.

TV Guide Magazine: Actors often claim the only fair way to award an Oscar would be if all five nominees played the same role. Is this the directorial equivalent of that?
Zachary Quinto: It is, and you will be hugely surprised at how different two sensibilities can be with the same material. Anna has a degree from NYU and a much more traditional screenwriting background. Shane comes from the YouTube world, an Internet superstar with 10 million subscribers. She took a quieter, more subtle approach to the script. He made it a broad comedy.

TV Guide Magazine: Viewers will vote and the winning filmmaker scores $250,000, but the showcase is even more valuable, right?
Quinto: It is so difficult to get a break in this business that it can drive you crazy — and I don't want talented people going crazy! I'm confident this series will launch directing careers for both Anna and Shane, and I'm really honored to advise them. The Chair is not some TV gimmick, you know. My production company [Before the Door Pictures] has made six films, four with first-time directors.

TV Guide Magazine: Any concern this series is too inside baseball? Do we really want to know that much about how films are made?
Quinto: Yes, people do! There's a huge market for Blu-ray extras and behind-the-scenes features. Listen, I've done the blockbuster Star Trek movies, yet I'll sit watching one of them in a dark theater and go, "How the hell did they do that scene?" [Laughs] And I was right there on the set when it happened.

TV Guide Magazine: Did Star Trek make you want to turn producer?
Quinto: Being cast as Spock was a level of exposure and opportunity that rarely comes along and often doesn't last. That's what drove me to start my company, but I'd wanted one since the first season of Heroes. I'd gone years trying to catch an acting break, and then the break I caught [playing serial killer Sylar] was more phenomenal than my wildest expectation. I vowed never to go backward. I could no longer sit around waiting for other people to decide if I'm valuable enough.

The Chair premieres Saturday, Sept. 6 at 11/10c on Starz.

Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!