OUT OF OF­FICE

John Krasinski emerges from di­rect­ing his wife in a hor­ror movie with his sense of hu­mour still mirac­u­lously in­tact.

Sharp Magazine Middle East (English) - - Contents - BY ALEX NINO GHECIU • PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY DOUG INGLISH

If there were a cam­era film­ing him right now, John Krasinski would be look­ing di­rectly into it.

Check­ing his phone in the back of a car in L.A. and find­ing his name trend­ing on Twit­ter, he’d turn and break the fourth wall — like he did as Jim Halpert so many times on NBC’S The Of­fice — to give us that patented “You see­ing this?” look.

Ap­par­ently, Krasinski learns, he has been cast as the new Peter Parker. Or so say head­lines that have been pop­ping up all day, claim­ing he’ll be play­ing an older Spidey — or voic­ing him, any­way — in the up­com­ing an­i­mated film Spi­der-man: Into the Spi­der-verse. Ex­cept that he won’t. It’s fake news.

“How did I lose a job I didn’t even know I was up for?” Krasinski won­ders. “What hap­pened?”

He isn’t dwelling on it, though. Af­ter all, he’s about to go film an episode of Ellen, and Ellen re­quires fo­cus. She’ll be ask­ing him ques­tions about his A-list movie-star wife Emily Blunt, his new movie A Quiet Place (which he di­rected and co-stars in along­side her), their two daugh­ters Hazel and Vi­o­let, and his beard. Then Ellen will try to scare him with a man jump­ing out of a box.

That’s a lot of at­ten­tion for one day. Es­pe­cially for Krasinski, who, de­spite be­ing fa­mous, is a pretty nor­mal dude. The pub­lic eye, and all its pri­vacy-oblit­er­at­ing byprod­ucts, can feel a bit much to him. It’s ob­vi­ous his mind is al­ready at home with his fam­ily in, yeah, their quiet place.

Even be­fore talk­ing to Krasinski, you ex­pect him to be a re­lat­able, chill guy. Prob­a­bly be­cause you watched him play a re­lat­able, chill guy on a mega-pop­u­lar mock­u­men­tary sit­com for a decade. He’s Jim Halpert, The Of­fice’s nice, sane au­di­ence stand-in. And yet, if the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try is a dys­func­tional mid-cap cor­po­ra­tion, then Krasinski is up for a mas­sive pro­mo­tion. At 38, he’s on the precipice of be­com­ing Hol­ly­wood’s next big ac­tion hero. You can see him whoop­ing su­per­nat­u­ral mon­ster ass in the Michael Bay–pro­duced A Quiet Place, and this sum­mer he’ll be tak­ing down ter­ror­ists as ev­ery­one’s favourite Tom Clancy char­ac­ter in Ama­zon’s Jack Ryan series.

He’s on his way to achiev­ing Chris sta­tus — that is, to be­ing the sort of strap­ping lead­ing man who gets his own (non-an­i­mated) su­per­hero fran­chise nowa­days (see: Hemsworth, Evans, Pratt, Pine). He’s even got a shred­ded new Chris body to boot.

But he’s not there yet. For John to truly be­come a Chris, here’s what needs to hap­pen: a) You’ll have to stop think­ing of him as a Jim, b) I’ll have to quit it with the Of­fice ref­er­ences, and c) He’ll have to get used to this whole fame thing.

Of course, that’s if he even wants the job in the first place.

It’s only weird,” says Krasinski. I’ve just asked if be­ing one half of a so-called Hol­ly­wood power cou­ple, and the spot­light that comes with it, ever feels awk­ward. “I mean, it’s a weird thing to have peo­ple fol­low you and know your ev­ery move. It’s ob­vi­ously part of the equa­tion; it’s some­thing that you have to live with. But, bizarrely, I’m a pretty shy per­son. So to grow up in Bos­ton be­ing timid and then, all of a sud­den, to have peo­ple know where you had lunch, and with who, is re­ally strange.”

This checks out. Krasinski’s as­cent to fame was pretty fast by usual Hol­ly­wood ori­gin story stan­dards. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing as an hon­ours play­wright from Brown in 2001, he thought he’d move to New York to take a gam­ble on act­ing. It was only a cou­ple years of wait­ing ta­bles be­fore he landed the role of Jim on The Of­fice. (Word is the cast­ing direc­tors wanted him to au­di­tion for Dwight, but he in­sisted on read­ing for Jim, be­cause duh, that’s clearly him.) He was floored.

Then, just a few years later, he’d some­how find him­self dating Emily Blunt. The two met through a mu­tual friend in 2008 and hit it off, de­spite the fact that Krasinski was a (strangely) big The Devil Wears Prada fan­boy at the time. “Be­fore I had to ad­just to more at­ten­tion [from pa­parazzi], I had to ad­just to the fact that I was go­ing out on a date with Emily Blunt,” he re­calls. “I was just as starstruck as any­body would be. It felt like I had won a ra­dio con­test or some­thing. I spent the first three months won­der­ing how this was even real.”

Th­ese days, Krasinski reg­u­larly finds him­self go­ing on dou­ble dates with the likes of the Clooneys. And ev­ery time he does, shut­ter­bugs are in­ex­orably in tow, look­ing to sell Pop­sugar the lat­est #re­la­tion­shipgoals shot of him and Blunt in pub­lic. It all feels pretty bat­shit for him be­cause, deep down, he’s still a shy guy from Mas­sachusetts. An Av­er­age Jim.

Sure, maybe star­ring in a movie with your wife isn’t the best way of draw­ing less heat to your re­la­tion­ship — more on that later — but Krasinski’s just try­ing to make the most of his lot­tery-ticket life. “I try to keep up with how much cooler all my friends are,” he says. “The Of­fice gave me my en­tire life and ca­reer, and I just don’t want to squan­der it. So in­stead of re­ly­ing on do­ing the same thing over and over, I want to try some­thing new.”

There’s a par­al­lel uni­verse out there where Krasinski is Cap­tain Amer­ica. Back in 2010, he made the short­list to play the pa­tri­otic Marvel su­per­hero. The story goes that just as he was step­ping into the cos­tume for his screen test, a god­like Chris Hemsworth hap­pened to walk by in full Thor re­galia. That’s when re­al­ity smacked Krasinski like a star-span­gled shield to the fore­head. This is stupid, he thought. That’s okay. I’m not Cap­tain Amer­ica.

To­day, Krasinski has no hard feel­ings to­ward any of the Chrises. “Peo­ple ask, ‘Man, were you bummed when Chris Evans got it?’ And I go, Look at him! He’s Cap­tain Amer­ica. Of course he got that role!” he says. Not that he still wouldn’t jump at the chance to don a Kevlar suit. “I don’t know who’s left, but if there’s any­body, I’d love to play a su­per­hero. It

“THE OF­FICE GAVE ME MY EN­TIRE LIFE AND CA­REER, AND I JUST DON’T WANT TO SQUAN­DER IT. SO IN­STEAD OF RE­LY­ING ON DO­ING THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER, I WANT TO TRY SOME­THING NEW.”

“I WAS IN EARLYDAYS-OF-PAR­ENT­ING MODE. I WAS A WIDE-OPEN NERVE, SO THE SCRIPT HIT ME RIGHT BE­TWEEN THE EYES. I STARTED THINK­ING ABOUT WHAT I WOULD DO TO PRO­TECT MY KIDS.”

would be a blast.”

Let’s ad­dress the ob­vi­ous: we’ve seen this nar­ra­tive al­ready, this whole unas­sum­ing-fun­ny­man-goes- Sch­warzeneg­ger thing. The in­dus­try term for it is “pulling a Pratt,” and it seems like the most ob­vi­ous roadmap for Krasinski to stick to if he hopes to be Chris-ened. Like Krasinski, Chris Pratt first gained no­to­ri­ety as a goofy, aw-shucks char­ac­ter on an NBC sit­com, the mod­elled-af­ter-the- Of­fice hit Parks and Re­cre­ation. Then he opted for a hard re­brand, sign­ing on to play a Navy SEAL in Zero Dark Thirty, get­ting jacked and, even­tu­ally, be­com­ing the box of­fice dy­namo he is to­day (read: a bona fide Chris).

So far, it seems Krasinski is on the right tra­jec­tory. He’s buffed up — drop­ping to just nine per cent body fat — and starred in his own Zero Dark Thirty, 2016’s Bay-helmed 13 Hours: The Se­cret Sol­diers of Beng­hazi. Tasked with de­fend­ing the US diplo­matic com­pound in Beng­hazi, Libya from Is­lamic ter­ror­ists, Krasinski’s mil­i­tary con­trac­tor is con­vinc­ingly con­flicted. One mo­ment he’s cry­ing, fear­ful of leav­ing his daugh­ters back home dad­less, the next he’s stand­ing heroic amid a Bay-gasm of gun­fire. It’s the kind of per­for­mance that proves Krasinski can carry a block­buster.

Soon you’ll see him as Jack Ryan, a CIA an­a­lyst who al­ways ends up in gun­fights. Yes, this all seems like a lot of mil­i­tary-in­dus­trial-en­ter­tain­ment-com­plex ag­it­prop, but Krasinski’s a lit­tle more nu­anced than the pro-rea­gan ac­tion he­roes of yore. (We’re look­ing at you, Stal­lone.) “There are a lot of voices speak­ing very loudly to­day,” he says. “And what we have to do right now is lis­ten. I’ve never be­lieved in a one-sided coun­try or a one-sided party. There’s never one side to any story. So I take ev­ery is­sue, ev­ery can­di­date as they come. It’s about un­der­stand­ing. I try to al­ways be what the sit­u­a­tion needs.”

There’s that good-guy charm again. It’s hard to un­see him as your best cu­bi­cle buddy (though the beard helps), largely be­cause he possesses many of those same qual­i­ties IRL. What’s more, he turns right into the skid: “I feel in­cred­i­bly lucky to be seen as such a nice guy,” he in­sists.

But maybe he’s onto some­thing. This is, af­ter all, the age of the Ev­ery­man Ac­tion Hero. The Mr. Uni­verse–sized ideals of mas­culin­ity that dom­i­nated movies in the ’80s and ’90s are long gone (with the ex­cep­tion of The Rock), re­placed by re­lat­able dudes with ac­tual per­son­al­i­ties and just enough mus­cle to look im­pos­ing. Guys like Pratt and Paul Rudd and Ryan Reynolds (and, be­fore them, Will Smith, Bruce Wil­lis, and Ni­co­las Cage), who are funny and fal­li­ble and pos­sess that have-abeer-with-me ge­nial­ity. Krasinski may be the most ac­tu­al­ized ver­sion yet: Amer­ica’s most ac­ces­si­ble tough guy.

Now imag­ine, if you even can, hav­ing the stupid luck of mar­ry­ing your favourite movie star. You’d think your prime ob­jec­tive in life, mov­ing for­ward, would be to not fuck this up.

Star­ring in a movie with her and di­rect­ing it? That seems like a sure­fire way of fuck­ing it up. His­tory’s proven the Hol­ly­wood cou­ple van­ity project to be a tremen­dously bad idea. Schaden­freude-hun­gry au­di­ences al­ways want th­ese movies to fail, which they of­ten do, which then be­comes re­la­tion­ship cyanide. Jersey Girl is about as mem­o­rable as Ben­nifer. And from By the Sea, it’s a short ride to #brangelexit.

“Oh my God. I was so ner­vous,” ad­mits Krasinski about di­rect­ing Blunt in A Quiet Place. To be fair, it was her crazy idea. They were both moved by the script, which Krasinski re­ceived as a spec (and would even­tu­ally re­write, us­ing that Ivy League de­gree of his) shortly af­ter the birth of their sec­ond daugh­ter. “I was in early- days-of-par­ent­ing, ter­ri­fied mode. I was a wide-open nerve, so it hit me right be­tween the eyes. I started think­ing about what I would do to pro­tect my kids.”

A Quiet Place fol­lows a fam­ily forced to live in per­pet­u­ally silent fear of a sound-sen­si­tive evil. It’s di­a­logue-free, the char­ac­ters com­mu­ni­cat­ing via sign lan­guage. Krasinski, who’s di­rected be­fore (The Hol­lars, Brief In­ter­views with Hideous Men), plays with our imag­i­na­tions by re­fus­ing to show what’s caus­ing the ter­ror. “We’re try­ing not to be he­li­copter par­ents,” he of­fers, “but any par­ent will tell you the thoughts in your head are al­ways scarier than what goes on in the daily world. So you try to pre­pare for ev­ery­thing.”

There’s prob­a­bly a con­nec­tion to be made be­tween the eaves­drop­ping mon­sters and the pa­parazzi. The point is, what mat­ters most to Krasinski, even more than his Chris-en­ing, is his fam­ily. While other celebrity cou­ples mug for the cam­eras (see: Kimye), he and Blunt (Krunt?) are good just hang­ing at home. “We feel like nor­mal par­ents, just try­ing to not screw this whole thing up,” says Krasinski. “You hope to be a bet­ter per­son for them. It’s about rais­ing your game, and there’s fear in that, be­cause when you fail as a par­ent you’ll never live that down.” So he’s step­ping things up, in ev­ery way.

In 2014’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Re­cruit, Chris Pine (an­other Chris!) por­trayed the CIA agent like a smoul­der­ing Ja­son Bourne. Krasinski’s it­er­a­tion will come equipped with weapons we’ve never be­fore seen in the spy’s arse­nal: zingers. Showrun­ner Carl­ton Cuse wanted to al­low the ac­tor’s par­tic­u­lar brand of charm­ing, smar­tass hu­mour to shine through. “If I was whisked away to a CIA black site, I would prob­a­bly make a joke out of ner­vous en­ergy,” says Krasinski. Be­sides, who wants a self-se­ri­ous pro­tag­o­nist th­ese days? “The ass-kick­ing su­per­heroes of the past who never cried or smiled felt fic­ti­tious. A guy who can crack a joke feels more real to peo­ple.”

That last part is im­por­tant. Whereas the A-lis­ters of yes­ter­year just had to look good on-screen, this so­cial me­dia age de­mands that celebs ac­tu­ally be de­cent, lik­able, real peo­ple (i.e. The Rock). Brando wouldn’t last a day in 2018.

All of which is to say that Krasinski is the ideal lead­ing man for to­day’s Hol­ly­wood. Hum­ble as hell, puts his fam­ily first, and unafraid to take a back­seat to his lady. He’s a nice guy, and he’s al­right with that, be­cause he’s se­cure enough not to care about fin­ish­ing first — even though he usu­ally does.

What’s more, he knows what it means to be a good man at this very mo­ment. “I hope the idea of mas­culin­ity is al­ways chang­ing,” he says. “Above power and sex ap­peal and con­fi­dence, what I look up to most is un­der­stand­ing and fig­ur­ing out ways to deal with an ever-chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment. You’ve got to be ever-chang­ing too, con­stantly want­ing to be bet­ter, con­stantly ris­ing to the chal­lenge of a new day.”

And if that def­i­ni­tion is al­ways shift­ing, then Krasinski may just rep­re­sent the next evo­lu­tion of male lead. He’s a bit too or­di­nary to be a Chris, but a bit too pow­er­ful to be a Jim. What he truly is, then, is a John — ex­actly the hero we need right now.

Just don’t ex­pect him to keep mak­ing eye con­tact with us. “I’ve out­grown look­ing into the cam­era,” he laughs. “I can’t just do that for ev­ery movie. Though fun, it’s very un­pro­fes­sional.”

WWSTYLINGBY JES­SICA PASTER/CROSBY CARTER MAN­AGE­MENT. GROOM­ING BY JENN STREICHER US­ING VICHY/TRACEYMATTINGLY.COM

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