John Krasinski talks about his transformation into small screen action star Jack Ryan.
Were you a fan of the Jack Ryan movies? How did you make such an established character your own?
I was a huge fan of the novels as a kid growing up. To me, Jack Ryan was the American James Bond. He's super cool. He has a little less sex than James Bond, but still cool. When they came to me with this idea and I had just finished 13 Hours where I had said, 'The world is full of superhero movies right now, but we are not telling the story of the real superheroes, which is the people who put their lives on the line every single day.' That's the reason why I did 13 Hours. So, when Jack Ryan came to me, I felt the same exact thing. We have this character who can't shoot fire out of his hands and can't fly so he has got to change the world just by using his brain. That really appealed to me.
Did you have much contact with the CIA?
Yes. It's been so exciting. I'm a huge nerd for all that stuff. Getting to know the CIA community and to tell the story of those real life heroes is also really, really fun for me. I think in my head I thought of the CIA as this clandestine society of people who looked at each other funny. And instead, they're the most amazingly normal and completely abnormal and extraordinary people. They're on the front lines for us every day, just like people who are serving for us. I think those stories are the most important to be telling right now.
You recently wrote and directed A Quiet Place. That must have been quite a challenge?
Absolutely. It absolutely was and to be honest, something that I was really nervous about.
It worked out pretty well for you.
I know! I can't believe it.
It must be handy to be married to such a talented actress like Emily Blunt who you can cast as your leading lady?
Yeah, my wife is okay, I guess.
What are the challenges of directing one's wife?
It's an interesting thing. Emily and I have kept our careers very separate and it's for a very simple and selfish reason, which is we like to watch each other's stuff. I never read the script for Sicario so I was lucky enough to be an audience member for it. And that is how we keep them separate. Our big thing was that we never wanted to be in a movie where the story of us being married was bigger than any story we could tell because it would be unfair to the movie.
So, how did she end up in the movie?
Well, she started recommending actresses just based on the ideas that I was pitching. And then one day she said to me, 'Do you feel comfortable with me reading the script?' And I said, 'Sure.' So, we were on a plane, she read it, and looked over at me and she had this look on her face and I swear, I thought she was sick. And so before I could reach for the barf bag, she said, 'You can't let anybody else do this movie!' No one can play this role!' And I said, 'Are you saying what I think you are saying?' It was like she was proposing to me. And then I said, 'Well, there's an audition process….'
What did you learn about comedy from your days at The Office?
I will never forget this: (writer/producer) Greg Daniels said to me, 'Your job is not to deliver these lines funny, your job is to deliver these lines. And if people think they are funny, that is up to them. And if people cry at those lines, that's up to them too.' That sounds real simple but it was a mind-blowing lesson that I have never forgotten.
You're a father of two daughters. What parental advice did you get from your father?
The easy answer is that I had the greatest father in the world, so I just wanted to be him. My goal in life, and I truly mean this, all this business aside is that if I could be a quarter as good a person as he is, then I win. And so I have always looked up to him and tried to be like him. I remember when we were young and someone explained chivalry, I was like, 'What is chivalry?' And he said, 'Holding doors open for women and letting a woman into a car before you.' I think the idea of protecting and the idea of providing for your family is definitely inside me because of him. So as a dad, I am a protector and a provider and going back to the sort of hunter/gatherer idea, I am definitely going to do whatever it takes for my family. I learned everything about that from him.