Original-Cin Q&A: The Office's John Krasinski takes horror-directing plunge in A Quiet Place

By Bonnie Laufer

Who doesn’t love the hilariously-deadpan Jim from the hit TV series, The Office?  Since the series ended in 2013, John Krasinski has moved on to a successful career both in front of and behind the camera.

His third directorial effort is a bit out of his comfort zone. A Quiet Place (opening next week) is an intense thriller set in the near future after an apocalyptic event. It follows a family of survivors and stars Krasinski, his wife Emily Blunt with Millicent Simmonds (Wonderstruck) and Noah Jupe playing their children. They are terrified, alone and just trying to stay alive remaining totally silent while a trio of sharp-toothed creatures lurk in the distance. Making even the slightest noise is enough to prompt an attack.

Original-Cin’s Bonnie Laufer met with writer, director and star John Krasinski in Toronto to talk about the daunting task of working on this film and why he would literally jump through hoops to work with his wife again.

John Krasinski directs his wife Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place

John Krasinski directs his wife Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place

OC: This movie is so intense my heart was palpitating from the first few frames. I have to say, being such a  blabbermouth there is NO way I’d be able to live in a world where your survival depends on being completely silent. Could you do it?

 JK: “Me neither, no way. I’d be out in the first ten minutes because I’d be asking questions and then forget that I was supposed to be silent. I’d have to ask where the bathroom is and then - boom - I’m gone!”

Read Original-Cin's review of A Quiet Place

 OC:  You not only star in and directed the film, but you rewrote the script. It had to have been quite a daunting experience.

JK:  “It was really daunting but at the same time it's funny. I remember back when I was working on The Office, the creator of the show, Greg Daniels, said to me, ‘Your job is not to deliver these lines funny, your job is just to deliver the lines and play the truth of the moment. If people laugh that's up to them. And if they cry about stuff you’re saying to Pam, that's up to them too.’”

 OC: It worked, you made me cry!

JK: (Laughs) “I’m glad! I know it sounds like a tiny bit of advice but it's truly something that  I have taken with me through my whole career and especially on a movie like this.

“I'm not a big horror guy. I am too scared to watch a lot of these movies. And so, for me, it was when I read the original script by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, it was this idea of a family that relied on each other and and, ‘What would you really do for your kids?’

“That idea was huge for me especially since we had just had our second daughter weeks before I read the first script. So it was hugely powerful to me. Our day today is making sure our kids have a roof over their heads they have food and they get a good education. And I know that  this family's going through a little bit more, but it really felt close to home for me.  You really push yourself to say, ‘What would you truly do for your kids  if all hell broke loose and this is what it meant to survive?’

“So to me when I rewrote the script I just wanted to push that metaphor even further, this idea of what parenthood is.  It’s sort of what the movie is about.”

 OC: The casting of your wife Emily was nothing short of brilliant.

JK: “Thank You.”

OC: She was so believable in this role (as were you), but working together in this capacity, I am guessing that it had a lot to do with the trust factor between the two of you.

JK:  “Absolutely. The night before we started shooting she turned to me and said, ‘Are you nervous?’ And I said, ‘I'm terrified.’ To which she answered, ‘Thank God me too!’

“We really talked a lot about it.  We sat up that night and  we talked about what we were really scared of. And the truth is, even though we do the same job, the weird thing about being actors is you never work together. And so, yes, you do the same thing, but you never meet the same people.

“She has her own crews that she works with, and so to actually do this all together was phenomenal. The idea that she has her own process and I have my own process - let's hope that they don't clash.

“It turned out to be the best collaboration I'd ever had my life truly. She's as smart as you would think. She's as talented as you would think and then some, and she's also the most professional, most positive person every single step of the way.

“She gave 100 percent for the scenes that she was in and the scenes she wasn't in she was by my side watching over me, helping me and giving me ideas. It was an amazing experience that I hope we get to repeat again.”

OC: I can’t wait to see her as Mary Poppins.

JK: “All I can say is, oh my god, she is SO good.”

OC: She is going to be a legend to so many young kids as Julie Andrews was to us watching the original film growing up. That’s heavy.

 JK: “I know, it’s pretty crazy.  Every day, I  whisper to her, ‘No pressure honey.  You’re just playing Mary Poppins, no big deal!’” (Laughs)

OC: The kids that you cast in A Quiet Place are also quite fantastic, but Millicent Simmonds who plays your eldest daughter is extraordinary. When I first saw her in Wonderstruck last year I was blown away by her poise and her performance. She just steals this movie, but for you having a deaf actress was probably not only imperative but I’m guessing that you learned a lot from her through this process.

JK: “You nailed it Bonnie.  Having a deaf actress play this part was non-negotiable for me. Not only because the performance would be more layered and textured in understanding the world, but I wanted someone to be my guide. I needed someone to help me explore what it is like to be in a family with  someone who is deaf, and how they manage in the world that we go through as humans who can hear.  She was phenomenal and I just can’t believe how blessed I was to get her. 

“She helped us all with the sign language, she’s such an incredible spirit, I truly don’t think she is from this world. She is an angel and she’s so nice, so professional and was so kind to all of us about learning sign language and facilitating our communication.

“Every day I’d asked her what she wanted to do in each scene and she had such a great take on what she would do and what it really meant to be deaf in each moment. It was really such a gift to me and the production. I feel so lucky that I got to work with her.”