INT: John Krasinski
There are certain actors who you just kind of think… ‘Good for them. They deserve to be successful’. One of those guys is John Krasinski. He really brought to life the other half of Pam with his wonderful work on ““The Office”. He has shown a whole lot of talent as the series has grown. His film work includes work in LICENSE TO WED, SHREK THE THIRD, and SMILEY FACE. And coming soon, you can see him give a pretty damn terrific performance alongside Renee Zellweger and George Clooney in LEATHERHEADS. The breezy dialogue between these three is a true testament to films like IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT and HIS GIRL FRIDAY and the power that they still have to this day.
When I was given the opportunity to sit down with John, my respect for him elevated even more than before. I love his work as Jim, and his work in LEATHERHEADS is very impressive especially when he can hold his own very well next to George Clooney, thank you very much. But even more than that, he is just a very intelligent individual who has taken his success as it comes without letting any of it go to his head. He is humble, thankful and above all, a downright cool individual. If you’d like to see John on the big screen, you can check out LEATHERHEADS, opening Friday at a theatre near you.
As I was watching LEATHERHEADS, I kept thinking, it’s 1925 football. Obviously if you are playing for college, it’s a big deal and professional wasn't. Taking on the role, how much did you research that era? Or did you do much research?
I did. I did. A lot of it was in the script. George [Clooney] knows a ton about everything, the guy’s sort of a genius. But I got a couple books on the history of football, there’s even a book called, like “Football in the 20’s” and it’s like this whole big deal, so… you know, I knew it was based on a character named Red Grange, not in specific, but definitely in the idea of taking the best college player in the league and bring him to the pros. Because so many more people were watching college football then pro football. So when I read about him, it was really cool to find out that these guys were more like rock stars and like spectacles than they were actual players. They’d actually do these tours through the country almost like a rock band would, playing five games in five days, you know what I mean, like playing and getting to see the guy you’ve never seen before. It was really cool, it was really fun to find out about. And that really helped with the sort of celebrity feeling that nobody had seen a big star like that.
It was interesting seeing you in that kind of character because you are not necessarily the guy that is always in the public eye. And you’re playing this guy who just thrives on it. Was it kind of a weird experience playing this sort of character?
It was actually. It was a little
weird. You know it was fun, because I got to find a correlation between
that character and my life in a way. Not that I was even looking for one.
But to be honest, he’s sort of, he became a war hero, and fell into this
superstardom in collegiate football that whether or not he was ready for it, it
was there. And you know, a lot of that, I even said to George when I met
him, that I could really relate a lot to this character. You know, a
change in the way people see you happens very fast. And in the movie, I
think he deals with it very well and you know, [he] wants to hold the secret for
the good of it, not to benefit himself. He feels bad that all these guys
got left out of the credit for what happened. And I thought that was
really interesting, that you know, whether or not he felt like he deserved it,
he had it. And I definitely don’t feel like I deserve all the attention
or anything like that. I’m so lucky to be on the show [“The Office”]
and to be in movies like this. So I really feel lucky to be any kind of
“in the public eye“, even though I’m not often in tabloids or anything
like that. That's a curse isn’t it?
Yeah, I think so. When I was looking at your IMDB page, there is always some guy who has to be a jerk.
Oh totally, it sort of progresses to a place where they can go wherever they want and it's unaltered and unchecked. And anybody can pass judgment at any time, and I think that that’s something you just gotta be okay with and luckily, I have a really amazing base from my parents and my family you know, and I have awesome friends. Long before I even wanted to be an actor, I was always growing as a person but felt really comfortable with who I was, and who my friends were, and who my family was. So now that this is happening, it’s amazing to keep checking on them and using them for inspiration. Just keep going forward and not worrying about all this new world, you know.
And to keep you grounded.
Exactly. Absolutely, yeah.
One thing I liked about the film is the old-fashioned element of it. This is going Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT…
Totally, exactly. You know, its IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, its SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS, its all those great films. You know, the thing I think that George did so wonderfully was to not make a movie that was inspired by that era, but really shoot a movie like IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT. I think everybody is used to really cutty edits and super political movies and super action-packed movies and its like, back in those days, people would go into a movie to be entertained, to sort of be taken to a new place for awhile. But I think the movie does do that, it makes you happy. You feel good leaving it and I think that that is a really hard thing to capture. And I think it’s really gutsy because so many people are like, ‘‘well this isn’t fast enough’, people are really looking for a certain type of movie, so to do something that they’re not used to is brave.
Well especially since you see remakes, or sequels coming out. But you don’t see movies like that, that’s literally old-fashioned. That snappy dialogue, with you, George and Renee, you had some nice chemistry and were able to carry that quick wit well.
It was fun. It was great and you know George really instilled that right from the beginning. He makes you feel really comfortable on day one. The sort of movie star thing is dropped, both with he and Renee. You get to see how incredibly nice of people they are and how easy it is to connect them him. You’d think that they’d be… I definitely thought they would be sort of on their own planet. But they’re so down to earth and so able to be communicative with, that you just feel like you’re one of the gang. I was terrified going into that movie. I still don’t believe that’s me up there, you know what I mean. So, its been a wild trip, but they really helped make it feel more real.
Quite a different role for you.
It's a really different role for you.
I like that you say that, yeah. I play a nice guy still, but I think that it’s a totally different thing. The haircut, for starters. No, I really liked it, and I’m always looking for, you know, different roles, more challenging roles. And obviously it’s a process, you don’t just jump in playing a heroin addict or something. You know, to be a part of this movie is to be given a chance… because I know that when I first read the script, I said this is the best role I’ve read, so let me know the first sixty actors that get their hands on this thing, because I didn’t think I had a prayer. So George really went out on a limb to get me this role and I appreciate it.
Well, looking back on your career, your films haven’t done the business that you would hope…
This was the type of film that I think was a smart move for you.
Yeah… Thank you.
It's very classic and stylish in its nature, with the witty dialogue, and you definitely have the chops to pull it off.
Thank you! Yeah, I mean it’s a huge compliment to be able to pull off such a stylistic movie. And for me its all about experiences. So LICENSE TO WED, you know, however well it did, it was an amazing experience, it was my first big role in a movie. And that in and of itself is a really important thing to sort of, get used to you know. And then working with Robin Williams, he was such a huge star in my eyes, that it sort of allowed me to get a new barometer of what I thought fame was. So it really helped me to get into the mindset of working with George and Renee who are huge stars as well. I’ve been really lucky along the way that my career sort of played out in different steps, where everything that I needed has happened at the right time, so hopefully this is just a new step onto something great.
And with “The Office”, it was such a big deal how successful it became.
Oh, the biggest.
With Jim and Pam, everybody was talking about those two characters. Was there ever a time that you think it might have hindered other things you may have wanted to do?
You know, in all honesty, absolutely not. I mean, that one role, especially. I think I was the luckiest guy in the world to get on the show. But also to have my first, really notable acting experience be with a role that’s half dramatic and half comedic. Not many people get to do that, you know, if I ended up being the crazy neighbor on a show, that’s something that’s hard to get out of, you know what I mean. So to be able to have fun with Dwight or Michael, and then all of a sudden get to do that scene with Pam where I tell her I love her, it's like… it’s the greatest gift of all, to be able to showcase yourself in a couple different ways. And you know, I think that George knew that I could hopefully pull off the comedy, but he also knew that I could be believable hopefully. So I actually love going back to that show and it’s definitely my most crowning achievement so far. And its where I started and I will be there as long as they’ll have me.
You also have a film that is your baby, can you talk about that?
Absolutely, it’s a movie that I wrote and directed, but really I see it as sort of a middle man, or liaison is all it was. Because it’s a book that I'm in love with called BRIEF INTERVIEWS WITH HIDEOUS MEN. Its by David Foster Wallace, who I think is a writer that at this point, his writing and perspective, not many people are used to and don’t see the world through. And more than anything else, I just think that we should all be challenged to see the world in new ways, so I just wanted to get that book on the screen so that more people could experience it the way I did. So it’s not my big directorial debut or something, I mean its hard enough to be an actor, let alone be all three. You know, I’m not one of those guys who always wanted to be a director/actor/writer. Maybe in the future, but it was a blast and you know, you learn such incredible things from people like George when you’re on set with him. Really what you learn is grace under fire and then confidence with what he’s doing. At the end of the day, I’d love to be anywhere near what he’s been doing, you know. I think at the end of the day, you are who your friends are and stuff like that. And so, everybody knows him as a classy guy and that's all I want to be doing.
Well he had a similar career pattern that you have had.
He started off doing television as early on as “The Facts of Life” up to “ER”. Now did he ever give you any advice that left you with, ‘okay… that’s what I need to be doing in my career.’?
Yeah, he gave me many bits of great advice. And one of the things he said was, always appreciate what you’ve got on that show. You know, “ER” was so good to him and he knows it. He’s not one of these guys who is going to say, ‘ER was TV.’ or ‘ER was drama and now I'm doing what I really want to do.’, he’s like, ‘You know, I was lucky enough to be on a show that made me who I was, to give me the gifts I am now getting.’ and I feel the exact same way. Maybe even more so because “The Office” is such a fun set. I mean, not only is it well revered, its such a fun set for me to be on. Like even if people hated the show, I’d still want to go to work every single day. I really do trust in that and I think that television to film thing is a tricky thing, and he sets a nice standard.
Let me know what you think. Send questions and/or comments to JimmyO@joblo.com.