The Gulf Today - Panorama - - CONTENTS - By Ja­cob Stol­wor­thy

John Krasin­ski talks about go­ing from an ev­ery­day nor­mal guy in The Of­fice to a su­per spy in his new se­ries Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan

Few roles in Hol­ly­wood are as sought af­ter as Jack Ryan. Alec Baldwin was the first to play Tom Clancy’s spy hero on­screen, in 1990’s The Hunt for Red Oc­to­ber, be­fore Har­ri­son Ford and Ben Af­fleck brought lead­ing-man bravado to the Wall Street trader-turned-cia op­er­a­tive across three more films. The most re­cent — star­ring a suave Chris Pine — was re­leased in 2014.

And now you can add John Krasin­ski to that list. Best known for play­ing the equiv­a­lent of Martin Free­man’s char­ac­ter in the US re­make of The Of­fice, the 38-year-old proves a sur­pris­ing choice to front a Jack Ryan TV show; his is a ca­reer built on play­ing some­one more at home be­hind a desk than on en­emy ter­rain.

When I meet Krasin­ski in cen­tral Lon­don, how­ever, the cast­ing sud­denly makes sense. Al­though he’s chatty and ebul­lient — hardly Ryan traits — he’s also smart and cour­te­ous, stand­ing up to greet me in a navy blue blazer that strug­gles to con­tain his broad shoul­ders. It’s this mix of gen­tle po­lite­ness and im­pos­ing phys­i­cal­ity that makes you think Clancy would ap­prove.

“I think that there’s an ev­ery­man qual­ity to Jack that cer­tainly my char­ac­ter in The Of­fice (Jim Halpert) had, and I think that’s what I con­nected to,” he says. “There was a nerdy part of me as a kid that went, ‘Oh, I could be Jack

Ryan’ whereas I couldn’t be Su­per­man. There is such an appeal to play­ing a guy who is a real per­son, that you might see in a bar — he’s an ac­tual su­per­hero that could ex­ist.”

Krasin­ski’s re­turn to TV comes at a sig­nif­i­cant time for the actor. Ear­lier this year, he co-wrote, di­rected and starred in the (mostly) silent hor­ror A Quiet Place, his first at­tempt at a stu­dio film. Its suc­cess — unan­i­mous crit­i­cal ac­claim; a box of­fice haul of more than $330 mil­lion (Dhs1.2 bil­lion) — saw him named one of 2018’s most in­flu­en­tial peo­ple in the world by Time. He says the film, let alone his ca­reer, would not have been such a tri­umph without its lead­ing ac­tress: his wife, Emily Blunt.

“I was orig­i­nally just go­ing to star and Emily told me I had to di­rect it,” he says. “She knew it was a huge op­por­tu­nity for me, and in the mad­ness she just let me be my­self. I hon­estly feel I wouldn’t have this ca­reer if I hadn’t met her, be­cause she’s taught me so much about how to go about the business.

She’s been my se­cret in­gre­di­ent.”

Blunt al­most didn’t star in the film; Krasin­ski was “too scared” to ask her. Af­ter read­ing the script on a flight, how­ever, Blunt or­dered her hus­band to cast her de­spite there al­ready be­ing a fa­mous name at­tached (“I can’t say who,” he says with a smile, “but es­sen­tially, yes — Emily had some­one fired”).

Krasin­ski laughs when re­call­ing the time he was told by friends he would “probably get di­vorced” should they col­lab­o­rate on his pas­sion project. Ul­ti­mately, though, the cou­ple had the last laugh.

“It without a doubt made our mar­riage stronger,” he says. “I think we were both sur­prised by that. Not that I thought it would get worse but we were much more in love af­ter the movie.

“We leaned on each other in a way we never had.” He pauses. “I also cer­tainly wouldn’t have felt as com­fort­able watch­ing some­one else pre­tend to give birth in a bath­tub.”

De­spite di­rect­ing per­haps the most orig­i­nal hor­ror of the year, Krasin­ski didn’t like the genre grow­ing up. In fact, it wasn’t un­til he stud­ied the­atre arts at Brown Univer­sity that he be­came a proper cinephile, ev­ery Sun­day watch­ing a film rec­om­mended to him by his peers.

“I ac­tu­ally named my pro­duc­tion com­pany Sun­day Night be­cause the one thing you don’t get to do when you’re try­ing to be an actor is act — you’re wait­ing ta­bles and try­ing to do all th­ese other things — so that’s when we’d meet. It was the only time of the week we could talk about books and movies.”

Krasin­ski later en­rolled at the Con­necti­cut­based Na­tional The­atre School where he briefly stud­ied with the Royal Shake­speare Com­pany in Strat­ford-upon-avon, dur­ing which the self­con­fessed An­glophile (“mar­ry­ing a Brit seems ob­vi­ous, huh?”) mo­men­tar­ily plot­ted a move to the UK.

“I guess I am tech­ni­cally trained by them, but would I be a good Shake­spearean actor? Probably not.”

Years later, he won a part in The Of­fice. While play­ing Jack Ryan might sug­gest Krasin­ski is mov­ing away from his comic roots, he doesn’t see it that way. He’s even

up for repris­ing the role should a revival hap­pen.

“I would to­tally do it,” he says. “I can gen­uinely say I’ve never been in any­thing like it. I re­mem­ber bump­ing into peo­ple who’d been on other tele­vi­sion shows and were like, ‘So which year did you get sick of each other?’ We never did. It kind of felt like we were in a reper­tory the­atre to­gether. We all look for­ward to the day we can do it again. Hope­fully we can find a way.”

Be­fore then, he’ll be called back to duty as Jack Ryan — sea­son two was con­firmed months be­fore the first had even be­gun. He be­lieves its re­turn is jus­ti­fied.

“The books have lit­er­ally thou­sands of rich, dense pages with specifics about the char­ac­ter and the world around him,” he says. “We get to play with how he feels about all this stuff, whereas in the movies, he gets a call and then he’s sud­denly on a plane or a sub­ma­rine.”

By 2020, Krasin­ski will have played Ryan across 20 episodes of tele­vi­sion. Not that he thinks he’s in danger of be­ing type­cast as an ac­tion hero any­time soon.

“I’m pretty sure, at the end of my ca­reer, I’ll be most known for Jim,” he says. ”And that would be an hon­our for me.”

The actor is bring­ing fic­tional CIA op­er­a­tive Jack Ryan, who was pre­vi­ously played in a se­ries of movies by Alec Baldwin, Har­ri­son Ford, Ben Af­fleck and Chris Pine, to the small screen.

Krasin­ski found fame as Jim Halpert (third left) in the US re­make of The Of­fice (2005-13).

Krasin­ski cast his wife Emily Blunt in this year’s hit hor­ror film A Quiet Place.

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