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Chris Pine Says ‘Poolman’ Was the “Best Thing to Ever Happen to Me” Despite Negative Reviews

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Chris Pine said this week the development and release of his directorial debut Poolman was “the best thing to ever happen to me” despite the movie’s nearly universal bad reviews.

“It’s forced me to double down on joy,” Pine told host Josh Horowitz on Thursday’s episode of the Happy Sad Confused podcast. “As an actor… fundamentally it’s about play, right? What we do is essentially become children for hours a day and make believe,” he said, adding: “There’s an impish quality to it that I don’t ever want to lose.”

Poolman, which debuted at Toronto film festival last fall, follows Pine as a down-on-his luck pool technician in Los Angeles who discovers a water heist in a spoof of 1974’s Chinatown. The film was panned by critics, with The Hollywood Reporter writing that the project “goes tonally off the rails from the start and proceeds to hit bottom with excruciating momentum.”

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Pine said this week the bad reviews became “a real come to Jesus moment for me, in terms of seeing how resilient I am.”

He added that we wasn’t “totally surprised” by the critiques, saying he hadn’t set out to “make some sort of niche film,” but said it was hard to reconcile having made a project “with so much joy behind it, to then be met with this fuselage of not-so-joyous stuff.”

“The cognitive dissonance there was quite something,” he continued, going on to reference a favorite latin phrase that translates to, “Vigor grows from the wound.”

“I love that idea,” he said. “Yes, there’s the hurt of the cut, there’s the hurt of the moment, but as the scar tissue forms, as the healing process happens, you do benefit from the growth and resilience in sitting in your being of what you’re trying to say.”

Pine says this lesson helped remind him that his contentment with the project was ultimately up to only himself. “After the reviews in Toronto I was like, maybe I did just make a pile of shit,” he recalled. “So I went back and watched it, and I was like, I fucking love this film.”

Poolman will now hit theaters on Friday.

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