John Krasinski Discusses His New Film 'Away We Go' And 'The Office'
John joined us to discuss his new film as well as his love for the late David Foster Wallace, his disappointment with former Red Sox star Manny Ramirez and his character Jim Halpert on a little show called The Office.
Mike: How did you get involved with Away We Go?
John Krasinski: Believe it or not, that crazy thing you feel never happens, happened. Which is I got a call from Sam Mendes when I was on set of The Office and he said, "I just read this new script and I can't think of anybody else doing it but you." And I was pretty sure George Clooney was back to do the biggest prank I had ever been a part of.
That just doesn't happen, Mike, let's be honest. That just doesn't happen. I mean, if I read this with you that I told that story I'd be like, "That's not true, none of that's true."
Mike: I admit I wasn't expecting that answer. I more expected the old, "I auditioned, and I've just always wanted to work with Sam Mendes..."
John Krasinski: Exactly.
Mike: How was working with Sam Mendes?
John Krasinski: I had worked with him on Jarhead so I had got to know him and I think that's how he was able to call me -- we sort of knew each other and kept in touch. Working with him on this was a whole different thing. Not only was my part bigger (laughs)... You know, no two ways about it, I think Sam Mendes is the greatest storytelling director we have. I mean no disrespect to other directors -- there are amazing directors doing amazing things -- but I think when it comes to relationships being told and stories being told in the most intimate specific way, he's the best. I think a lot of that has to do with his theatre background, for sure, but on set he's got such a command of the story. He's the one who knew the entire time this movie would have heart.
Mike: When you're on a television series do you think you have to be careful in choosing other projects considering time constraints?
John Krasinski: You know, it's funny, I think that definitely that's something that one would normally have to be aware of. I've been so lucky. With Leatherheads I auditioned and George [Clooney] gave me the part and that was a huge opportunity. Even going back to License to Wed, I had never done a big role in a movie like that and the fact that the director [Ken Kwapis] was one of the directors of The Office helped me out there. Then I got really lucky that George wanted me in Leatherheads. I've been lucky enough to be chosen to be a part of these incredible projects; as long as I continue to work with such incredible people, it doesn't really matter what the movie is.
Mike: When you watch the trailer for Away We Go, the Alexi Murdoch song, "All My Days," is playing. With the theme of the film -- and, yes, this would be pretty cliché -- but you could almost also play something like Springsteen's "Thunder Road."
John Krasinski: (Laughs) Right. Exactly. The thing about Alexi's music in the movie is that there is a melancholy feel to it which I think is true to the movie and true of what most people are living through right now. Which is: Yes, we have to stay positive but with keeping one eye on the reality of the situation. I think there is something incredibly freeing and liberating about our two characters going on the road; there's also something incredibly terrifying. So, I think the music nailed it.
Mike: I agree, by the way. I think Alexi's music is great.
John Krasinski: Totally. No, No... but I hear what you're saying. In any other sort of road movie that would be the way to go.
Mike: I think a lot of people that only know Maya Rudolph for her eccentric characters on Saturday Night Live are going to be surprised.
John Krasinski: Yes! One hundred percent. One of the most awesome and most horrible things about working with Maya is that she's so good. And what I mean is she is that girl in junior high school who you hated because every time you're getting your test back she was like, "Oh my god, I failed." And then she actually got it back and she's like, "No, I got an A, that's so weird." And I was always the guy who's like, "I'm sure I got a C-." Then I got it back and I was like, "Yep, C-." She was just one of those people who she kept saying, "I'm not an actress, I'm not an actress." Almost every day she would say that and then turn in this incredible performance.
Mike: I kind of like that this film is coming out in the summer. It's nice counter programming for the big blockbuster films like Star Trek.
John Krasinski: Yeah, that's what they say. The truth is, hopefully, a movie that's this special and this unique would do well at any time because hopefully people would connect to it. Getting back to Maya, the last thing I'll say, to be honest, I think it's one of the best female performances in years.
Mike: I, unfortunately, have yet to see Away We Go. And I probably shouldn't just assume it's nothing like Star Trek because for all I know after I see it I will say, "man, that was exactly like Star Trek."
John Krasinski: (Laughing) Yes, it's exactly like Star Trek.
Mike: Of course it wasn't the case in this situation ... But, I've heard through the grapevine that there is a character you play on television that's quite popular...
John Krasinski: (Laughs) That's what people tell me.
Mike: Is it hard when you play a role as popular as Jim Halpert on The Office to convince the powers that be that, yeah, I can play, I don't know... Wolverine?
John Krasinski: I think I'm so incredibly lucky on a million fronts to be on The Office. Especially when you play a character like Jim who not only has moments of humor but, also, some real moments, too. I feel like I've been given the greatest gift in the world being on that show because I'm able to ride the rail between comedy and drama on the show. The other thing about The Office is it's not something you ever move away from. People always ask, "You're on TV, when do you want to break off and do movies?" And it's like, you never break off from a show that good. You actually just keep begging them to have you back.
So, I'll be on that show as long as they'll have me. Again, I've been lucky to be a part of these great movies because of the directors' ideas of what I can do. And for some reason they take a chance hoping I can do more than they've seen me do and push me farther. I hope I can always do that.
Mike: I was immediately attracted to Away We Go the first time I saw the trailer, which I think was a few weeks ago before that Russell Crowe movie...
John Krasinski: State of Play?
Mike: Yes. And I loved that it starts out with the line talking about how they're in their early 30's reassessing their life. And I'm in that age range and I think it will kind of speak to that age group.
John Krasinski: One hundred percent, yeah. And the coolest part about the movie is that it's not a pregnancy movie. Us getting pregnant is just the catalyst to us, basically, taking another look at our lives and being like: Oh, wait, are we ready? Are we good people? Have we done all of the things we want to do? All of my friends fall into the 25 - 40 category and believe it or not everybody still has the same thoughts. I have friends who are married with kids who are still thinking whether or not they're doing exactly what they want to do, or are they getting everything out of life they wanted. Sam said it best when he said it was a movie about belonging.
Mike: You're a big Red Sox fan, right?
John Krasinski: I am, yeah.
Mike: As a Red Sox fan, what's your thought on Manny Ramirez's steroid suspension? Does it still hurt considering he's not on the Red Sox?
John Krasinski: Oh it totally hurts. He's still on all the billboards here in L.A. (laughs).
Mike: That's true, he kind of followed you.
John Krasinski: Yeah, exactly.
Mike: This is probably a sore subject; I probably shouldn't have brought it up.
John Krasinski: No, not at all. It has a lot to do with the movie; don't worry about it, we'll figure it out (laughs). But I think it's disappointing on every level.
Mike: You directed a film based on David Foster Wallace's stories, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. You did a reading of this in college?
John Krasinski: Yeah, we did a reading of it junior year in college.
Mike: With Wallace that's really throwing yourself in there, right?
John Krasinski: Yeah, absolutely (laughs). To be honest, I think -- without being overly sentimental -- the reading of that book of short stories on stage was the moment I actually thought about being an actor. It was the moment of truth for me. It was like: This is incredible. I've just been obsessed with that book ever since. And I think the biggest benefit I had going into that was I never wanted to be a director or a writer... I just really wanted to tell the story. I just really wanted more people to know that feeling that I had that night.
Ignorance is bliss when you've never directed before because you kind of run headlong through all these different minefields. And now that I see how Sam directs -- and I admire him so much -- but now that the movie is over I'd now be terrified to do another one because now you have the foresight of what can go wrong. Whereas, I just ran as fast as I could and it somehow didn't blow up. But to actually see the minefield is a way more scarier prospect.
Mike: And I assume you're familiar with David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, too, right?
John Krasinski: Oh, yeah, absolutely.
Mike: His writing is so in depth and complicated but it's also quite hard to read, too.
John Krasinski: No, absolutely! He's incredibly hard to read because he opens up an infinite -- no pun intended -- level of options and avenues. He makes your brain operate on a level that's it's probably not only not used to but will never operate on again. I think he's probably one of the most talented writers we've ever had because of that. He's got such unique powers of observation; his observation of the world is both astounding and, you know, my heart always went out to him because having that level of observation of the world must be somewhat of a curse, in a way.
"Mike's Pulse" is a column written by transplanted Midwesterner and current New Yorker Mike Ryan. For any compliments or complaints -- preferably the former -- you may contact Mike directly at email@example.com or submit reader questions for celebrites to Mike on Twitter.
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