This interview with John Krasinski is what would be, still to this day, my last in-person interview before New York City and much of the country would shut down in March 2020. We made an effort to update it (like we did with Cillian Murphy earlier this week), but Krasinski is on an all out publicity blitz, hopping from theater to theater, and we couldn’t make it work out. (It’s funny, there are references to the St. Louis Blues, my team, beating the Boston Bruins, and the videos he had made for the NHL with Jenna Fisher. Since this interview there have been two NHL seasons played.)
But, yes, after a 14 month delay, A Quiet Place Part II is finally coming to theaters, a movie Krasinski initially didn’t want to make. And, yes, now that he did make it, he admits he has some regrets about killing himself off in the first movie. (He does appear in the sequel in flashbacks.) But this sequel continues the story as Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and her two children, Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe) try to find safety from the invading aliens who are attracted to noise. Thrown in the mix now is Cillian Murphy’s Emmett, a neighbor who joins the family on their journey.
Honestly, I had forgotten that the “Krasinski being in Fantastic Four” rumors were even a thing back then. It really is like that whole thing was just put on pause, and now they are all back. Probably because all these old interviews are finally publishing. By tthe time I had talked to him, the internet was flooded with his quotes. I asked him why he’s being so, let’s say, enthusiastic about answering these kind of questions and he swears it’s not a media strategy and he’s just telling the truth that, “hell yeah,” he wants to be in a Fantastic Four movie.
But, first, when I walked into the room with Krasinski, after an awkward conversation about not shaking hands, he asked what was sticking out of my jacket pocket…
John Krasinski: What’s that in your pocket?
It’s my snow hat…
I thought you were walking around Manhattan with an animal.
Yeah, I brought you an animal.
Is it cold enough for a hat?
Borderline. But it reminds me, because it’s a St. Louis Blues hat, it was weird watching you get roundly booed…
When the Blues played the Bruins for the Stanley Cup I went to two of the games in St. Louis. They showed a clip of The Office and Ellie Kemper and Jenna Fischer, who are both from St. Louis, got massive applause and then you showed up, Mr. Bruins, and I’ve never heard a louder boo in my life.
I didn’t know about that. Thanks for deflating my confidence before this interview.
To be fair, you were making those taunting videos.
No, it was really fun. Jenna just texted me a picture of her and her whole family holding the Stanley cup at her house.
It was at her house?
Yeah, they made her one of the stops. That’s pretty awesome.
That is great.
That’s pretty cool.
When I spoke to Cillian Murphy, that 28 Days, 28 Days Later scene from The Office got brought up. And now Cillian is in your movie.
That’s right. I do remember it. But I’ve been a huge fan of Cillian’s forever. Certainly that movie, Danny Boyle’s movie. I find him to be one of the best actors we have going. So it was really awesome to get him to do this movie. Because weirdly, and sounds like I’m patting myself on the back, I’m not, but itt was a really difficult role to do. I wrote a morally ambiguous person who hopefully, potentially, would be heroic but carries a lot of weight and has a lot of demons. And very few people can pull all that off. And I knew that Cillian could do it with his eyes closed. I had no idea he was a fan of the first one,
He told me the story about the email he almost sent you out of the blue.
I had to make him feel good. Because he was like, “I was going to write you an email and then I didn’t.” And I [jokingly] said, “Well, thank God you didn’t, because that would’ve sounded desperate and you wouldn’t have gotten this role.” So here we are.
So when I talked to you before the first one, I got the sense you, I don’t want to say were confident, but I felt you were pretty happy with what you were putting out there how audiences would react.
What did it make? Like $340 million dollars or something like that?
Something like that.
So how quickly did you get a call going, “Well, we would like another one of these”?
It was pretty quick. You probably know better than I do. It was either that weekend or the week after.
Oh, that quick?
It was opening weekend. I said no.
Yeah. Very quickly I said no. And Emily [Blunt] felt the same way. It was one of those things where we felt like that movie was so special to us. Certainly from a storytelling standpoint, I was worried that I would ever be able to do anything as organic. But most importantly, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do anything so personal. And I knew that my superpower in that movie was to be connected to the material. And the reason why I did the rewrite was because I was a new parent and it was all about parenthood and very, very personal to me. And when I said no, they started looking for another writer or director.
Oh, is that how it works? So they could control the IP basically?
Yeah. Totally. And I told them to go for it. And luckily my producer happened to be a Jedi and he was like, “Yeah, you said you had this one little idea. Can you just write an outline? So that way I can pitch to writers and directors.” And as I was writing the outline, I realized halfway through I was like, “Goddamn it, I’m directing this.” I knew that he had done this on purpose.
And usually the second one is just a money grab from the studio and then they’re worse and they don’t have anything to do with the first one. And so I said to Emily, “I’m not going to do it.” She said, “I’m not doing it.” So we were both not doing it. And I had this tiny idea. And I said, “Emily, if I do this idea, would you do it?” And she said, “Why don’t you just write it? And if you write it and it’s directly from your heart as the first one, then maybe I’ll do it.” And my idea was make Millie the lead character of the movie. And it wasn’t just because I knew Millie would be an amazing actress and do an incredible performance. What happened was, she became the doorway to the first movie. And Emily said, “You know what’s amazing? This isn’t a sequel, this is like the second book in a series.” And I went, “Great. I’m going to call it Part II.” And she said, ”Great, I’m going to do the movie.” And it was because it was equally, if not more, personal to me than the first one.
I like that it’s called Part II. We don’t have enough Part IIs anymore right now. I’m glad it’s not A Quiet Place: Too Quiet, or something like that. It’s classy.
Thank you. I tried to be classy. Will Farrell told me to stay classy a long time ago and, by god, I’m going to try to.
When you were writing this, there had to be a moment when you thought, “I wish I hadn’t have killed myself off in the first one.”
Oh, totally. Zero foresight. Zero foresight. I had no idea that it would go on to be a bigger movie.
Because it makes the first one, that scene is so emotional. But now that we’re continuing on, it’s like, well, you could have saved that for later.
Yeah. Oh boy, I could’ve done that in the second one. No, I think that it was definitely what was right for the story. It was the idea that I loved most about the first one. It’s probably the crux of the linchpin of why I did the first one. Because there is something so powerful about that moment for me. But, weirdly, as much as I wish I could have been in the second one more, I think my character is… Again, it sounds heady, but it’s true, I think my character is extremely prevalent in the second movie. I think that there’s a lot of me in this movie, because of all these themes. There’s so much powerful stuff that I started to think of my college days of studying literature. I was like, “Yeah, but it’s smarter to kill myself. But as an actor, I really wish I hadn’t.”
I interviewed Ethan Hawke once and he said something like, “If I had known there was going to be like six purge movies, I would’ve made sure I didn’t die in that first one.”
No, it’s true. It’s really true. Ethan and I should have a therapy session.
He at least can blame someone else. You did this to yourself.
Yeah. I did it to myself.
Part II starts with a flashback. Did you think of doing a The Godfather Part II and make the whole movie like that? Not to compare this to The Godfather…
You can compare it to The Godfather.
I’ll make that the headline.
But you did it. Not me, you did.
John Krasinski, “Look, Godfather II comes to mind when I think of my movie.”
Nope. It comes to your mind, not my mind.
But did you ever think about going back and forth?
No, I always saw it as the opening in the movie. For me was really important is to see this family happy. So it would give you context for the first one, that they’re so sad and they’re so suffering through all this stuff and that the father is barely speaking to the daughter. And you get to see in this movie now that the father and the daughter were best friends. They were the same person. They were really happy. They had everything. Then I knew it would be a continuation to the next one. Because I had had the idea that it would be Noah’s panic attack; that what was going on is more of like a St. Elsewhere move where it was going on in his head behind the heater.
Tommy Westphall theory.
Exactly! Thank you. But it would be behind the heating tanks is, the whole opening was his fever dream.
Are you more open for a Part III?
What I learned on the first one, because I didn’t see it as a sequel, I had all these ideas where I was like, “Oh man, it’s so cool. I wonder what’s happening on the other end of those fires.” And things like that, which I was able to use here. This time when I was writing and I had ideas, I wrote them down and actually even baked in a couple of Easter eggs that, if it works out, there will be some cool moments for me at least that you can look back and see how these all connect.
But I guess I’m asking…
What you’re saying is you’re demanding a third one.
But this isn’t like before where you were like, “Absolutely not”?
Right. Now I would be open to it, because I see how much fun this world is to play in. I think franchises, in my opinion, are usually a hero or a villain that the audience loves, but the studio has to build this new world around them. And we have the world and we can put whatever hero or villain in it. And that’s really fun in a whole different dichotomy. That’s fun to play with.
Here’s something I noticed about you — when it comes to when you talk to media, I think you know what you’re doing. Because this morning the headlines on my phone that weren’t about Covid were, “John Krasinski open to playing Mr. Fantastic.” Because everyone picks that up and now it’s everywhere. And they read that and then they also read about this movie.
Oh, I didn’t even think of that. But now you make me sound really smart.
I think you know what you’re doing.
I actually felt stupid. I wanted to email Kevin Feige and be like, “Sorry, man. I wasn’t trying to like put pressure on you. You’re the man.”
It gets picked up by every website and then you get more advertising for this.
I think I felt, it’s like I was trying to sometimes over calculate how much I’ve talked about certain things. And then you get older and you just go, “I don’t know, I’m going to be honest.” And my honest answer was like, “Hell yeah. I’d play Mr. Fantastic.” And then people were like, “Oh my God.” And I didn’t know it would be headlines. I thought it would just be the eighth question in that interview. But it’s true.
I think people are looking for happy headlines and that’s a happy headline.
Well, unless you are a person who doesn’t want me to play him.
The St. Louis Blues fans.
This movie is going to do gangbusters everywhere, except in St. Louis.
I need Jenna to come out for the movie.
‘A Quiet Place Part II’ opens in theaters this weekend. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.