For John Krasinski, no matter how A Quiet Place does at the box office this weekend (and tracking shows it’s going to do pretty well), this is already a life-changing film for the actor-director. Krasinski has had a lot of success in his career – obviously The Office (which has had a resurgence recently), and also being one of the driving forces behind movies like Manchester by the Sea — but directing a film like this, with this kind of critical response, brings cachet.
Not that you can tell when you’re around Krasinski, who still jokes about not being much of a horror fan, even though he’s just directed one of the best horror movies since Get Out upended the genre over a year ago. And he tries to say he’s not much of a pop culture connoisseur, even though he can rattle off Spies Like Us references without missing a beat. (Oh yeah, this interview goes in some strange directions at times. At one point the obviously false urban legend from the ’80s of Alfonso Ribeiro dying while breakdancing is discussed.)
A Quiet Place is John Krasinski’s third film as a director, and by far his most critically acclaimed. It may come as a surprise to many that he had this kind of horror film inside of him, but, according to Krasinski, it comes from a place of family. And considering he stars in this film alongside his wife, Emily Blunt, that all makes a lot of sense. John Krasinski knows family, and in A Quiet Place, Krasinski and Blunt play parents who will do anything to protect their children from creatures who attack sound.
Ahead, Krasinski explains where this movie did come from. Additionally, he discusses Knight Rider, Spies Like Us, and what states hate John Krasinski – you know, normal topics. Also, Krasinski talks about the resurgence of The Office over the last year, which includes stories he’s heard about teenager Office sleepover parties in his parents’ neighborhood.
John Krasinski: You have an EQ on your recorder. That’s cool. There are levels and bars. It’s like KITT…
Yeah, in the later seasons. Remember the first season? He just had the red square when he spoke.
Who on Knight Rider decided that the red square wasn’t going to cut it?
Yeah, his voice is way cooler with the bars. By the way, the internet can tell us that. They’ll be like, “His name is Dave.”
I am an admirer of your work, but I still don’t know where this movie came from.
I don’t either.
I wasn’t expecting this movie out of you.
I don’t think I was expecting this movie out of me. It’s one of those things where I was looking for something to direct again, but I wanted it to hit me emotionally in a way that I felt like I knew exactly what to do.
It’s very different than The Hollars.
It is very different. And yet, there is a family theme there.
That seems difficult, changing genres like that.
That’s always my favorite thing when directors do it. I’m not saying this is what I did, but I love when people pivot. I’m trying to think what was the one before it, but was it Punch-Drunk Love to There Will Be Blood?
And I remember writing to Paul and just saying, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a transformation like that on film. It’s unbelievable, you know? And this is not that, but I remember thinking that jump was extremely terrifying for me. I remember a friend of mine said, “Man, I never pegged you as a horror guy.” And I said, “Yeah, because I can’t even watch horror movies. They scare me too much.”
I’m the same way. I do not like being scared.
My favorite part of a horror movie is the first 20 minutes when everything is fine and it’s just people hanging out. A Quiet Place doesn’t do that. It starts and it’s in the thick of things.
No, you do not get that 20 minutes.
I hate exposition, so I loved that this movie doesn’t really try to explain anything through dialogue.
Thank you so much for saying that, because the truth of the matter is that was a big decision…
You’ve got to trust the audience.
I suspect a lot of studios wouldn’t go for this.
No. And there was a lot of moments with this studio, too. And, by the way, I give them an insane amount of credit for even wanting to make this film. I remember when I did Promised Land with Matt [Damon], we went into Focus Features’ marketing department. His name was Jack and he was amazing. And he was like, “I can tell you all the places that hate you and all the places that love you. You want to know?” And I went, “No, my ego cannot take that.”
What does that mean, all the places?
He knows all the states where I test very well and don’t test well. And I was like I don’t ever want to know that that even exists.
You should have asked for one state that really liked you.
I would’ve gone with the negatives, what’s the one place that doesn’t like me.
What do you think it is? What’s a state that doesn’t like you?
God, I hope I’m decent in Massachusetts. I mean, let’s be honest. But I said, “What’s the biggest misconception you can give to the film industry?” And he said the biggest misconception is that audiences are stupid. And he said they want to be challenged and they want to do the work – they like being led through things that they don’t understand.
I’ve interviewed you a few times. The first was back for Away We Go…
That was eight or nine years ago, right?
Yeah, I think it was 2009? And I’ve obviously seen you do a lot of interviews. You are very good at them. If I’m a publicist, you are a dream client. I’ve seen you promote things that I’m like, “There’s no way he believes that, but man he’s selling it.”
What a compliment.
The reason I bring this up is because this one has to feel different for you.
One thousand percent.
And not only that you directed it, but you’ve already seen the reactions.
Well, that’s the thing is I’ve never gone all in on a movie like this. And I don’t just mean from the jobs that I did and the amount of effort and work. I mean, to me, this is showing way more of myself than I ever expected to show in a movie. And to be honest, and it sounds ridiculous probably to your readers who don’t see it yet, but this is probably the love letter to my daughters that I’m going to do.
It does make sense after a person sees the movie.
And I hope that when they see it, they realize what I was doing and that this was for them in a weird way. And it’s crazy to say, but it’s true. And it was really emotional. It’s really hard to think about what would you really do for your kids. I remember I said to the studio, “Don’t ever put it on a poster but when I was writing it the line in my head was, ‘What would you really do for your kids?‘“
What’s wrong with that? Why not put that on a poster?
I mean, I’m sure you heard the same – I don’t know if it’s an urban myth or if it’s real – the story about the mom who lifted a car when her baby was under it, you know what I mean?
Yes. I doubt that ever happened.
I doubt it happened, too.
You grew up in Massachusetts, right?
I grew up in Missouri. How did we both hear that story before the internet?
I know, it’s crazy. That’s true.
Did you remember the rumor where Alfonso Ribeiro died breakdancing?
That’s right! I heard that, too!
How did you hear that in Massachusetts and I heard that in Missouri and there’s no internet? How did that happen?
I mean, that is word-of-mouth to a peak extreme.
I should mention to anyone reading this, Alfonso Ribeiro is alive and well as far as I know. He’s doing fine.