BLUNT AND KRASINSKI
Real-life husband and wife John Krasinski and Emily Blunt talk about teaming up for A Quiet Place, Krasinski’s directorial debut and one of the year’s sleeper hits
Whisper it, but the duo behind
A Quiet Place made one of the best movies of the year. And they seem to get on really well. Do we detect... romance?
sounded like a horror film with a nice gimmick, a monster movie in which to make a single sound meant death. But John Krasinski’s third film as director, and first working with his wife Emily Blunt, was much more than that. A moving family drama about loss and letting go, in fact, as well as an ingenious sci-fi and, yes, a really, really scary horror that demanded to be seen in a packed cinema with a rapt, soundless audience. It was a cinema experience unlike any other this year and justly became one of 2018’s biggest hits, grossing $335 million on a $17 million budget. A sequel is, of course, on the way. In a rare joint interview, Krasinski and Blunt reflect on how A Quiet Place became the big noise of 2018.
When did you first realise you’d made a hit?
Emily Blunt: I think it was at the South By Southwest screening [in Austin, Texas], which was our premiere. I could see that the film was stunning and really special, which is a very hard thing for me to say about films I’m in, because I’m usually picking them apart. I think the fact my husband made the film and we were watching it together, I could somehow still take a detached view and see that it was something magical. But
I didn’t know how anyone else would respond. John didn’t know either.
John Krasinski: My wife is being very kind, but it was the most terrifying moment of my career. In fact, of my life. I remember driving to the theatre and Emily very sagely said, “What’s the one thing you’d like to focus on in this screening? If you focus on every single moment you’ll go crazy.” I remembered hearing from a couple of friends that sometimes at the end of the movie people will clap, so I thought a little bit of applause would be nice. At the end of the movie, when she cocks the gun, the place erupted in a sound that I know I’ll never forget. I turned to Emily and she was screaming, “Oh my God!” but I couldn’t hear her because the place was so thunderous. I think at that moment I truly blacked out.
Blunt: I also think this film is a true testament to how powerful word of mouth is. Word of mouth put a fire behind the film that we did not expect nor plan for. A film that was made for $17 million you don’t expect to have this meteoric life that it did, so we’re just so grateful to the audiences who talked about it.
Krasinski: The most moving part of the experience was not only that people enjoyed the movie but that they had an emotional connection to it. The best compliments we get are when people say, “I watched it with my kids,” or, “I cried because I’m a parent.” It’s not because it was a horror movie or this thing they thought it was — it was actually the surprise that it was something more.
Blunt: Something deeper.
What were you doing on opening weekend? Blunt: Were we in London?
Krasinski: Yes, doing promotion. The emotional explosion had already happened at South By Southwest. I remember we were in the hotel getting ready to do press [the morning after opening night] and we heard the screenings were going well. Weirdly, all the nervousness was gone. As much as the success of the film was important to us, it wasn’t more vital than people connecting with it. Now I was just hoping the studio would make their money back.
Blunt: It was still pretty cool when that opening weekend kept skyrocketing. I was like, “What is happening?!”
Krasinski: I remember getting emails on Thursday night saying, “Oh my God, we might have a 2 at the front of our [weekend figure]!” The next day I got an email saying, “It might be a number 3!” On Saturday, “It might be a 4!” On Sunday I didn’t get an email because I think everyone had just passed out. [The final opening weekend figure was $50.2 million.]
How did the reality of working together compare to your expectation?
Krasinski: For me, it was ten times better. I was confident about us working together. I was nervous about getting Emily to do the movie... I was afraid you would say no — nobody wants that rejection or the awkward dinner that night — but I was actually most afraid you’d say, “I’ll do it for you.” Emily knew this was a huge step for me and I was putting more on the line than I ever had. I didn’t want her to do it for me because she’d always been an actress I’d watched make the most unbelievable choices. When she said yes, the nerves went and we started thinking about how we could make this the best it could be. We went over every line and ran through every single scene, so by the time we got to set I was having more fun than expected because I got to watch her work. Being her number one fan, I’d never been in the front row before and that was awesome.
Blunt: I always had a good sense that we’d work well together… The idea that we were a married couple in real life, I think, spurred the film. The fact we’re connected in the way we are means we have the nuances between ourselves in real life, which really translated on screen… When we started working together, I remember thinking… [laughs]... John, I’m sorry, but I think I underestimated you. I didn’t realise how brilliant you were with a camera. That’s terrible to say and I feel horrible, but I remember thinking, “Do you know how to move the camera around?” But he was really ambitious and clever and knew exactly the shots he wanted. That’s what I took away. I knew how brilliant John was with actors, but I really was stunned by how brilliant he was visually.
Any particular moments that made you realise you had cruelly underestimated your husband?
Blunt: Oh God, the whole section at the end when Millie is discovering that her ‘weakness’ becomes the weapon, in that basement scene with the monster. You can see the cogs starting to turn and the camera goes from her to the microphone, then back to her, and it’s all so focused in this beautiful, dynamic shot that ends on me cocking the shotgun. It’s so ambitious. I thought, “I could never have fucking come up with that, ever.”
With distance and after viewing it many times, have any moments stuck with you in a way you didn’t expect?
Blunt: This was a really emotional part for me to play. This character’s fears were so representative of my deepest fears. The idea of losing a child is so upsetting that I can’t think of it without crying. As much as people talk about the birth scene, which was a really rewarding week... actually the scene I was always dreading was sitting in our dead son’s bedroom. That scene I revisit in my head. I think about the simplicity with which we shot it, the beauty of the moment and how anguished it felt to me as an actor to do that scene. Since working together the first time went well, are you keen to do it again? Blunt: We’re not champing at the bit to find something, but I’d love him to direct me again.
Krasinski: It’s without a doubt the best
collaboration of my career so I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
And the film did so well that there’s going to be a sequel in 2020. What’s the status of that? Krasinski: I’m writing the sequel right now. I wasn’t going to do anything with the sequel. I felt like we’d done something so special and singular. I asked them to go develop it with someone else and they reached out to a bunch of people and I had this very small idea that I thought would be interesting. I thought about it for a few months and then I told Emily the idea and she said, “I think you need to write the next one.” What I think we underestimated is how rich the world is.
Emily, are you coming back? Blunt: We can’t tell you anything right now. I think that’s the great mystery of it and the fun part of it. This is a world that can be expanded on and there could be a next chapter. The way in which John chooses to take everyone down that narrative, I think, is something to leave as a surprise.
John, pretend you’re not listening. Emily, this film took John to a new level as a director. How has this changed him?
Blunt: You know what I really feel? I have always known what he’s capable of and what he has to offer the world. It has been the most rewarding thing to see everybody else find out what I’ve always known about him… To put something out there that defines who you are as a filmmaker and a person will always be a very satisfying thing, particularly when people recognise you for who you are. Would you ever reverse the roles? Would you direct John? Krasinski: I would love it!
Blunt: I don’t have any ambitions as of now. I would find it too intimidating, because I don’t know how to move the camera like John does. Never say never.
Krasinski: The one thing I can tell you from watching from that front row I mentioned: it becomes very clear that my wife can do anything. I told her long ago that she’s got the heart of an actress but the soul of a producer/writer/ director/whatever she wants to be. She knows how to convey story and emotion, so I’d be first in line to be in the first movie she directs, but I know I’m going to have to work for it.
Blunt: Maybe I should put John through a birth sequence — see how that goes.
Above left: Husband and wife Lee (John Krasinski) and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) Abbott. Above right: The Abbotts head off with their children: Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Regan (Millicent Simmonds).
Top: Lee and kids evade monsters in the cornfield. Here: A terrified Evelyn tries to keep calm.
Top: Krasinski directs Blunt in the basement set. Above: Evelyn shields her children from the horror.