Chris Pine Gives a Must-See Performance in This Underrated Crime Series

Estimated read time 6 min read

The Big Picture

  • Chris Pine stars as a seedy journalist in the noir thriller series, I Am the Night, solving the infamous Black Dahlia murder.
  • Pine’s transformative performance adds depth to this dark homage to the noir genre, directed by Patty Jenkins.
  • The series follows Jay Singletary’s redemption journey as he uncovers the truth behind George Hodel’s involvement.

Chris Pine has proven to be many things. He’s Wonder Woman’s soulmate, the intergalactic space captain, James T. Kirk, and special agent, Jack Ryan. He’s also become one of Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs, having competed for the affection of Anne Hathaway in Princess Diaries 2 and by transforming into a spoiled, crooning prince vying for Anna Kendrick‘s love in Into the Woods. Across his career, Pine has covered more ground than most could dream of; floating from action films and musicals to romance, he abruptly took a left-turn into a role and genre he’d scarcely approached before. Reuniting with director, Patty Jenkins, Pine gives one of his greatest, most underrated performances in the TNT true-crime series, I Am the Night.

Also serving as an executive producer on the series, Pine had previously worked under Jenkins’ direction on the massively successful DC superhero film, Wonder Woman, alongside Gal Gadot. In addition to Jenkins’ acclaim, Pine received praise for his performance as Steve Trevor, a World War II pilot who aids Wonder Woman on her mission while falling in love. In I Am the Night, Pine is no longer one of America’s beloved sweethearts of the big screen; instead, he becomes a seedy, dishonest freelance reporter working the murder beat in dirty, 1960s Los Angeles. Jenkins directs multiple episodes of the series and returns to her gritty roots of true-crime. In this 2019 noir thriller series, Pine delivers a searing performance under Jenkins’ direction that is a must-see.

I Am the Night TV Show Poster

I Am the Night

In early 1960s, a teenage girl looking for her real father and a disgraced journalist seeking closure find themselves drawn into a web of secrets revolving around L.A.’s most infamous cold case, the Black Dahlia (Elizabeth Short) murder.

Release Date January 27, 2019

Main Genre Crime

Seasons 1

Creator(s) Sam Sheridan

‘I Am the Night’ Is Based on One of America’s Most Infamous Cold Cases

I Am the Night follows one of the most infamous, unsolved murder cases in American history. Known as the Black Dahlia case, aspiring actress, Elizabeth Short, was found brutally murdered in the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles in 1947. The police burned through countless suspects, eventually narrowing in on George Hodel. A highly respected surgeon in Los Angeles at the time, he became the prime suspect and is still one of the most well-known suspects associated with the case. Hodel was never charged, though, and the murder remains unsolved to this day.

The noir-thriller is in part based on Fauna Hodel’s (George Hodel’s granddaughter) life. Adopted as a baby, the series finds her being raised by her adoptive Black mother, Jimmie Lee Greenwade (Golden Brooks). Believing that she is biracial due to a falsified birth certificate, she uncovers the truth about her lineage and travels to Los Angeles to reconnect with the Hodel family. Hodel would go on to write the popular memoir, One Day She’ll Darken: The Mysterious Beginnings of Fauna Hodel, which also serves as inspiration for the series. India Eisley portrays Fauna and Pine leads as the fictional reporter, Jay Singletary. As Fauna arrives in Los Angeles in an attempt to reconnect with her Hodel family, Singletary simultaneously reopens his investigation into Hodel’s potential guilt.

Chris Pine Plays an Unhinged Journalist in ‘I Am the Night’

Chris Pine as Jay Singletary in I Am the Night Image via TNT

The series is one of many interpretations of the Black Dahlia murder, and Pine’s performance makes it one of the most haunting. By 1965, Singletary is a disgraced, on-the-edge journalist who lives in the shadows and on the corners of streets. Hungry for any story that will get him enough money to fund his next drug purchase, his glory days are long past. Also a Koren War veteran, Singletary battles his depression by covering whatever scandalous story he’s assigned by his boozy editor, Peter Sullivan (Leland Orser). But when the mutilated body of another dead woman is discovered, Singletary sees his chance to redeem his reputation and re-opens the investigation into George Hodel. Singletary has been exiled from the world of journalism because he boldly covered George Hodel’s involvement as a primary suspect.

Pine is gut-wrenching in his performance as a loner who doesn’t have much to live for, and instead skates by on vices like breaking into morgues and taking photos of dead corpses to fund his benders. If it was anyone else, the role may have been too dark to bear, despite it being a noir series. But thanks to Pine’s charm, he manages to turn Singletary into an invigorating, lively character as he traipses around Los Angeles in shorts and flip-flops.

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Chris Pine and Patty Jenkins Re-Invigorate the Noir Genre in ‘I Am the Night’

Since Hollywood’s Golden Age, noir has been a beautifully dark entry among other genres. While sunny California and the vibrant garb sported by each character look like the exact opposite of the genre, I Am the Night remains one of the darkest thriller shows in recent years. Jenkins makes the series soar as it’s primary director, taking advantage of the falsely cheerful environment to implant paranoia and darkness around every corner. It hearkens back to Jenkins explosive directorial debut with the true-crime film, Monster, which details the story behind real-life serial killer, Aileen Wuornos.

Pine seizes the chance to play the anti-hero in I Am the Night and sheds his action star and heartthrob status from his skin to become a degenerate sleuth. A noir is only as great as its investigator, trudging into a world of lies and deceit in attempts to find any honest, decent creature in the world. The thing about noir is that the truth often doesn’t win out, and the hero is usually left to continue on living in a dishonest world. Pine was born for noir, and has as much swagger as Humphrey Bogart and Robert Mitchum, as he’s not quite all good or all bad. He’s a new kind of noir man because he’s still the goofy, clumsy leading man that audiences originally fell for in the first place. As he creeps through the darkness like a lonely cat in the alleys of Los Angeles, he falls down quite a bit, but always manages to pick himself up. Even if he fails, Jay Singletary soars, thanks to Chris Pine.

I Am the Night is available to stream on Hulu in the U.S.

Watch on Hulu