It’s 9:45am on a Monday morning,
but John Krasinski’s day is already hours in the making. “I can’t even remember the last time I slept past 6:30am,” he says. “If you had told me in college, ‘One day, you’ll be waking up very happily at 7:00am,’ I’d tell you, ‘You’re insane.’”
Though Krasinski is in the middle of editing his third film as a director, it’s not A Quiet Place that has him up before sunrise. To hear Krasinski tell it, it’s the women in his life who set the pace these days. “My life is beautifully routine,” says the 38-year-old father of Hazel, 3, and Olive, 1, his daughters with British actress Emily Blunt. “It is pretty much: Wake up; get a pot of coffee; and then wake up the girls. You never know what kind of day it’s going to be with these two much smarter, cooler people in the house.” And, if it wasn’t for fatherhood, his latest project might never have resonated the way it did.
When first approached about A Quiet Place, Krasinski was asked if he would be interested in playing the lead in a horror film about a family who must live in complete silence in order to stay safe from a mysterious and deadly threat. Admittedly not a huge horror fan, he agreed to at least take a look, when the idea behind the spec script, written by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, suddenly took on a life of its own. “Right away, what I felt was, ‘This is a story about what you would really do for your kids—and underline really,’” he says. “Within three hours, I had the idea and the specifics of how I’d want it to play out, which was bizarre. I mean, I’ve never been struck by lightning like that.”
While he was immediately on board to revise the script, it was Blunt who told him he needed to direct as well—advice that took Krasinski by surprise. “We keep our careers very, very separate,” he says. “We always rely on each other for opinions, but we love the idea that we have separate careers, and, that way, we can be the No. 1 fans of each other.” This time, however, Krasinski couldn’t contain his enthusiasm, pitching Blunt his thoughts on what the movie could be. “It was Emily who said, ‘I’ve never seen you get this excited about writing a script. You’ve got to direct it.’”
The darker project may be a departure for the actor, still best known as Jim Halpert, the nicest guy in the world from the U.S. version of The Office. But since the NBC sitcom ended after a nine-year run in 2013, Krasinski has shown he’s more than capable of making the leap from one genre to another, both in front of and behind the camera. He’s morphed into action hero Jack Silva in Michael Bay’s 13 Hours and made his stage debut opposite Claire Danes in the off-Broadway drama Dry Powder. He gave silent conviction to the nonverbal character of John “Woody” Woodside in Cameron Crowe’s Aloha and voiced animated monster Frank McCay in Pixar’s Monsters University. In the critically acclaimed family drama The Hollars, Krasinski not only directed Margo Martindale and Richard Jenkins, but also himself. For Krasinski, it seems genre-hopping is simply a change of scenery. “People ask, ‘Do you like doing comedy or drama more?’ When you do a show as wonderful as The Office, you realize playing comedy and drama is the same. The truth of the moment is what makes people laugh and cry.”
In tackling the supernatural thriller, Krasinski felt confident he could convey the family’s duress without resorting to stereotypical horror tropes. “Because I connected to this idea as a dad, I knew that if I could tell the emotional story really well and in the way I wanted to, then the scares would be 10 times scarier because you actually fall in love with a family that you don’t want anything bad to happen to,” he says.
That’s not to say he wasn’t anxious. For the first time since they met and fell in love nine years ago, Blunt and Krasinski are about to co-star on screen. “We had talked about working together, very loosely, but we didn’t want the story of us being married to supersede the story of the movie,” admits Krasinski. This project was going to be no different. Blunt had even recommended other actresses for the part of the mother when, on a flight to L.A., she read her husband’s draft of the script. “I looked up—and, at first, I thought something was wrong because she seemed very serious. She said, ‘You can’t let anybody else do this movie,’” Krasinski recalls. “I can’t overdescribe how much that meant to me. It was the greatest compliment of my career. There’s nobody I look up to and admire more, so the fact that someone I trust not only in marriage, but as an actress, with that taste level and that strength, would want to dive into this script was huge for me.”
Two days before the shoot, the gravity of what they were about to embark on started to sink in. “We were just finishing dinner, and she said, ‘Can I ask you a question? Are you nervous?’ And I said, ‘Terrified,’” recalls Krasinski. “She went, ‘Oh, thank god. Me too.’” Looking back, the couple had little to worry about. “It was bizarre how well it worked. I don’t know whether I’d tempt fate again quickly because this process went so well. I think we were both shocked,” he laughs. Being able to shoot close to their New York home also made it easier to focus on what the two actors still consider their main job: “Spending time with the family, that’s priority No. 1,” says Krasinski.
This has meant traversing oceans for sometimes as little as 24 hours of family time, most recently when Blunt was in London filming the upcoming Mary Poppins movie while Krasinski shot the new Jack Ryan series in Montreal; Paris; and Marrakech, Morocco. Still, you’d be hard-pressed to find Krasinski complaining about his busy life. “I remember someone early on saying that the moment you think you deserve this, you have to get out of the business,” he says.
In hindsight, it seems crazy to think Krasinski once came very close to giving up his acting career to become an English professor. After graduating from Brown University, he moved to New York to pursue acting professionally, but after three years and no tangible success, Krasinski was about to make good on the promise he had made his mother to quit if he didn’t have an inkling that acting would pay off—and spare her from having to ask him to give up his dream. “I thought that was a fair deal,” says Krasinski. “Two and ½ years later, I’d had some commercials and [guest roles], but nothing more than that. So, I said to my mom, ‘You know what? You were right. I’m out. I’m going back to teaching.’ And, she said, ‘Well, it’s September. At least finish the year out.’ Three weeks later, I got The Office.”
That show, says Krasinski, has changed his life in every single way. “I wouldn’t have one opportunity without it, and I know that,” he says. “I can’t squander it. That’s probably one of the reasons why I started writing, directing, producing—because part of me feels like I have to work harder and harder to feel even a little bit like I deserve it.”
As he currently toggles between daddy duty and prepping his other “baby” for its first public outing, Krasinski knows he’s got it good. “This morning, I said to Emily how lucky I was. And I know that sounds like a Hallmark card, but it’s dead true,” says Krasinski. “I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”
Main Image: Button-down shirt, $195, by Theory at Bloomingdale’s; gray vest, $250, and taupe pleated trousers, $225, both at josephabboud.com; gray tie, $275, at Brunello Cucinelli; DeVille Prestige co-axial 39.5 mm watch, $15,000, at Omega; leather lace-up shoes, $775, at Tod’s; cotton socks, $28, at falke.com.
Grooming by Amy Komorowski at Art Department
Fashion Assistant: Kyle McCabe Stiansen | First Photography Assistant: David Morett | Second Photography Assistant: Cal Christie | Digital Tech: Oscar Diez | Equipment: Braulio Moz