‘THERE’S NOTHING BETTER THAN MAKING PANCAKES FOR EMILY’
Our new action hero pin-up John Krasinski on family life and why Jack Ryan is much better than Bond
John Krasinski modestly underplays the skills that have earned him his current status as half of Hollywood’s hottest power couple, alongside wife Emily Blunt. “I’ve had it very lucky,” he says. Versatile skills, too, given that John not only acts up a storm on screen, but writes, directs and produces. No one could accuse him of being an overnight success, either, given that he’s tirelessly worked his way up the showbiz ladder since the early Noughties. After a few one-off roles in cop shows here and there, John landed a part in the US version of The Office as the sardonicbut-charismatic Jim Halpert, and his star began to rise. But we weren’t the only ones to fall for his charms – offscreen, British A-lister Emily Blunt was equally enamoured with him. The couple married in 2010, and have two daughters, Hazel, four, and Violet, two.
Fast-forward almost ten years, and the 38 year old has multiple directing, writing and producing credits to his name, including this year’s horror hit A Quiet Place, in which John and Emily both star. He’s talking to us today about following in the footsteps of Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Chris Pine, in the prestigious role of Jack Ryan, the enduring CIA operative from the pages of Tom Clancy’s novels.
Whereas those previous actors portrayed Ryan on the big screen, John has brought him to TV for the first time, in Amazon’s eight-hour series entitled, simply, Jack Ryan. We have questions aplenty, so it’s fortunate that John makes for such a relaxed, likeable and funny interviewee. Can we keep him?
How does it feel to be a bona-fide Hollywood A-lister?
I never imagined that I would actually get to achieve as much as I have in this business. So, it’s been like living in a fantasy camp, where so many dreams are coming true.
You’re about to embark on a role that’s been taken on by so many huge actors before – why do you think Jack Ryan is such a popular character?
I think it’s because people find it exciting to see guys who aren’t normally trained for going on missions, to see how they react under that stress when they’re called upon to act heroically.
Does it distinguish him from other spy dudes like Jason Bourne or James Bond?
Yes. Even though he is very skilled as an intelligent analyst, he’s more of the ordinary man who suddenly has to do the kind of things you would expect from a Bourne or Bond, who are trained for those kinds of field operations. People know that Ryan has to use his wits and common sense to handle himself, which makes him much more relatable than Bond.
This is the first time Jack Ryan will be played in a TV series instead of a film – do you think there’s less of a difference between TV and film now than there was even five years ago?
I’m in a fortunate position to be doing Jack Ryan on Amazon, and it’s a very cool position at that. But by the time my girls are old enough to choose what they watch, I wonder if they’ll even know the difference between movies and television? It’s just about how they’re getting their content.
Is that a good thing?
I feel like it’s the Wild West for creatives in the best way, meaning there shouldn’t be a location or place or anything that’s the only place to go for quality. I actually welcome the challenge, because it really will be survival of the fittest. If you have an idea that wins, hopefully it has a better chance, because now people can choose anything they want from various content platforms. It sort of forces everyone to elevate their game.
How much of an impact do you think the US Office had on TV?
I think The Office came on the air ‘Jack Ryan is more relatable to people than James Bond’ right around the time that TV was starting to turn into something bigger than people thought it was.
The Office was seen as a rule breaker in comedy, certainly more than its TV network NBC would acknowledge in the beginning, or knew to acknowledge. Now it’s taken on a life of its own.
You directed A Quiet Place. Having worked with various directors during your career, did you watch them work and make crafty notes?
I’ve been very intent on trying to learn and steal as much as possible from all the great directors I’ve had a chance to work with. On every project, you can discover so many insights into the directing process, working with actors, and how to move a story forward. There are so many aspects of the job that are going to make the difference between a good and bad film or TV show.
You worked with George Clooney back in 2008 on
Leatherheads – did you learn anything from him?
George taught me the importance of a good script. He said that, as a director, you can always make a bad movie out of a good script, but you can never make a good movie out of a bad script. I agree with him and I’ve seen both those things happen many times. You have to be willing to devote a few years of your life to getting the script done. George said that you need to believe that you have your own specific take on a project and that you can bring something
to directing the film that no one else can.
You’re the youngest of three sons – what does your family make of your Hollywood achievements?
What’s weird and funny is that I felt like the black sheep. [Laughs.] My oldest brother went through med school and is an orthopaedic surgeon, and the middle one went to college and then Columbia business school and started his own business. I remember saying to my dad, “I’m sorry for choosing to be an actor! I don’t know what I’m doing next. I don’t have a lifestyle or a career.”
And what did he say to that?
He told me, “One of the proudest moments of being your dad is that the road you chose to go down is a road littered with negativity. In your industry, you’re going to hear ‘no’ all the time. And you still chose to walk down that road. That means your mom and I must have done something right.”
Awww. Your dad sounds bloody marvellous…
I thought that was wise and brilliant, because he also boosted my spirits on a day when I was low, when I was a waiter in New York. But that’s truly the way my parents raised us – if you believe in something, go after it. Don’t do anything half way. Go all the way! I had that kind of support from the beginning.
Nice. How daunting was it for you to direct your wife in A Quiet Place?
It was a terrifying prospect at first. I was very nervous about directing her, because you want to look confident and be able to impress the person you love with your work. You don’t want to let that person down or make them feel that maybe you’re not as talented as they might have hoped!
And how was it for you while shooting the film?
I don’t think I knew how incredibly talented Emily was until I started directing and acting with her in the movie. I remember one day when I was looking for editing space and I bumped into [director] Rob Marshall, who was in the process of editing
this little indie movie – Mary Poppins Returns…
What, that totes obscure Disney movie, starring Emily, that’s due out this Christmas?
I told Rob that I was going to be directing Emily and he told me, “You won’t k now how good she is until you’re on the set with her and watching her reactions and acting with her. That’s when you’re going to discover how great she is!” And he was right. Every day on the set with her was an extraordinary experience for me. She’s amazing.
You have two young daughters – how has fatherhood changed you?
There’s nothing more beautiful or satisfying than being home with your children. I love making breakfast for Emily and the kids. When we’re watching and playing with them, it’s the best time ever. All the clichés about how your life changes when you have children are true. I just feel so lucky and happy to be able to enjoy this part of our life together.
Sounds like it’s pretty amazing to be John Krasinski…
My life is such a joy, being a father and being able to share my success with Emily and building our family together. There’s nothing better than making pancakes on Sunday morning and then going for a walk in the park with Emily and the kids. I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, and the real challenge for me is to continuing exceeding my own expectations. ■
As Jim, the Office boy Waving his weapon about in Jack Ryan
Keeping the noise down in A Quiet Place
John and Emily: #powercouplegoals