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

Empire (UK) - - CONTENTS - OLLY RICHARDS

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.

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