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Film

The Basics with John Krasinski

John Krasinski is just as warm, genuine and funny as you would hope him to be. But beneath that lies an intelligent and creative mind constantly at work. 

As everyone’s favorite TV sweetheart-turned-Tom Clancy-action-star, the father of two swept the box office off its feet with his brilliant, practically-silent thriller A Quiet Place. The film, which he wrote and directed—then starred in alongside his wife, the English actress Emily Blunt—as an odd sort of love letter to his own children, showed audiences just how much he had to offer as a storyteller. When the pandemic hit last year, Krasinski was one of the first directors to insist on holding A Quiet Place 2 until it could be seen where it belonged—on the big screen.

A year later, with its release finally upon us (and rave reviews to go along with it), the Newton, MA-born, Brown-grad hopes to finally usher audiences back to theaters. And he just might be the one to pull it off.

Here, we sat him down for some off-the-cuff, rapid-fire insight into the cultural staples that helped shape him—from his mother’s Beef Stroganoff to Nat King Cole, Atticus Finch, Larry Bird and Peter Pan.

What do you read daily for fun—or listen to, if it’s a podcast?

I read the news app immediately. The aggregate Apple news, first thing. My podcasts are Conan Needs a Friend and SmartLess. Those are my two favorites. 

Favorite book growing up?

To Kill a Mockingbird, without a doubt. It was the first time I was exposed to that level of literature that early. I think I was in 5th or 6th grade when I read it, so it was the first time I remember feeling my brain breaking in a sort of bigger idea and a bigger concept of humanity. 

Favorite Book now?

I just read a book that’s incredible. Things in Jars by Jess Kidd. It is insanely well-written, but it’s also a completely imaginative, immersive experience. It’s almost like Seven, but funny and set in Victorian England. 

Song, band, or album that brings you back?

The Strokes’ first album, Is This It. It’s seared into my brain, and as soon as it plays, I’m back in 2002 immediately. 

Song you blast in the car?

I blast a lot of songs. Recently I’ve been blasting Bob Seger. A whole lot of Bob Seger. 

Album that is the soundtrack to your life?

I was listening to a ton of Old Standard. Nat King Cole, Bobby Darin, and Frank Sinatra. Maybe because I’m getting older. I’m like, ‘Yea, I know what he’s saying. I AM Nature Boy!’

Favorite baseball hat? 

My Boston Red Sox New Era hat in black, which they don’t even make anymore so…. Hint hint: New Era, start firing up the machines because these black New Era hats are amazing. I love them. 

Dream car?

A Bronco. I just love the idea of the throwback vehicle. Now people are tricking them out, and I’m like—’I want one of those… oooh look at that price tag. That’s a no, thanks so much.’

Your first car?

Volvo 1982 maroon, and funny enough, it’s the reason why that’s what Emily drives in a Quiet Place 2. I wanted to give my dad a nod to the ‘82 Volvo station wagon, and they found me one. 

Tech you use daily?

I’m a huge UE Boom fan. It’s the best sounding speaker; I use it every day. We start our morning, when the girls are having breakfast, listening to it. I’m sure they were big in 2007, but they still sound really good. They can get wet, fall down, the kids can throw them around. 

Favorite video game?

Call of Duty. It’s seared into my brain, because when I met Emily, I was playing a lot of Call of Duty and since I had kids, I don’t play it much anymore.  

Favorite garbage food?

My go-to, late night, is making my own grilled cheese sandwich. As much damage as I can put between two pieces of bread is great. My favorite food is a burrito. 

Favorite dish your mom or grandma makes?

My brothers and I each had one, and I can remember all of them. Mine was my mom’s Beef Stroganoff. On our birthday we got to ask for our meal, so on my birthday, she made me her Beef Stroganoff. It was my favorite. 

Dish you make when showing off for guests?

Well, it’s funny because I don’t cook at all, and then Emily said, mandatory, when we had our first child—she said, “Five. Five dishes. Five dishes that I can just call on you, and you can just go in there and make it. Choose Five.” I had no idea what to do. She said, “Go find your favorite chef and just start learning from them.” So, I learned Ina [Garten’s]’s dishes and now my go-to’s are Coq Au Vin and Beef Bourguignon.  

Your go-to cocktail?

It depends on what I’m after, but my solid is just tequila on the rocks with lime. My favorite cocktail is either a margarita or a Moscow mule depending where I wanna go. 

Game day beer of choice?

I’m pretty non-discerning when it comes to beer on game day. Whatever you got, I’ll throw down the hatch.   

Movie you have seen the most times and why?

Without a doubt, Jaws. I’ve seen Jaws probably 100 times. Close second is The Devil Wears Prada. It’s widely known that I’ve seen that movie. It’s like a tractor beam, if it’s on TV, I’m on it. When Emily and I started dating, within the first three weeks we had seen Jaws eight or nine times, which is crazy. When she said I should direct A Quiet Place, Emily told me, “You always said you wanted to do your version of Jaws, so go do this movie.” In Quiet Place 2, the pizzeria that I walk by and the Little League baseball team is sponsored by Brody’s Pizzeria after Chief Brody. So that’s a little Easter egg. 

Favorite Tearjerker?

Terms of Endearment.

Holiday movie?

Christmas Vacation and Love Actually.

Sports movie?

Rudy or Hoosiers. Those are also my tearjerker movies. By the way, you can make it through Hoosiers and you almost didn’t cry, and then at the very end, it’s the voice-over of Gene Hackman going, “I love you boys”— and you go, OH GOD. You just run to the bathroom. If you held out long enough, that will crush you. You’re like, “Uh, I gotta’ go make something.” Men just lose it. 

Foreign film?

Life is Beautiful is one of my favorite foreign films of all time, for sure. Most recently, I loved The Lives of Others. And, actually, through all the Quiet Place stuff, it was Let the Right One In. It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. 

Favorite movie you were in and why?

Other than [A Quiet Place 1 and 2] because I got to work with my wife, probably my favorite movie I did was Away We Go. I really loved that whole experience with Sam Mendes. Maya Rudolph, still to this day, is my spirit animal. She’s the most incredible human, and I’ve been so lucky to work with her. 

TV series you can binge watch more than once?

Peaky Blinders I think I could watch over and over. The Sopranos you can watch over and over. The Wire, without a doubt, I could watch over and over. 

Favorite TV show growing up?

Anything that was on TV. Knight-Rider. Also The A-Team was the best. 

TV show that had the most influence on you?

Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

Comedian that had the most influence on you?

Conan O’Brien. It was the only thing I ever did in my life every single night. I would watch Conan O’Brien every single night in college and never missed it, and then I became his intern. What I learned was that you can be goofy and hyper-intelligent at the same time. There was something so mind blowing about that for me. 

Dramatic actor that had the most influence on you?

Paul Newman. Hands down. The Verdict is probably one of my favorite movies. I remember that it was mind-expanding. It really taught me that simple is stronger. The beauty and simplicity he was going through, and how unbelievably layered he played such a simple thing—getting his one shot to do it again.

Director who has had the most influence on you?

Steven Spielberg, in every way. Spielberg not only brought me through my childhood, where I think he’s to credit for a lot of my imagination being born, but also—as someone who was trying to be a filmmaker—what he has been able to do with the genre and reinvent and reinvent and reinvent so successfully is just incredible to watch. 

Favorite bar in the world?

My favorite bar in the world was a bar called Chumley’s in the West Village, which I believe has since closed down. It’s where Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Elliot, every writer that I loved wrote there. It’s also the birthplace of the term 86. If anybody’s worked in a restaurant and you hear 86, it means there’s no more of that. “86 the lobster”, “86 the chicken.” That term came from this bar. It was such a speakeasy that, back in the day, it was at 86 Bedford and they had a courtyard entrance where people used to smoke and drink, and if the cops were coming they’d say, “86”—meaning, the cops were coming in from 86 Bedford, so run out through the courtyard. So the term comes from that. It was the best bar in the world. 

Place that makes you feel nostalgic?

Boston. Anytime I land in Boston, there’s something so incredibly powerful about that. There is a magnetism to that city that I don’t think I’ll ever fully get away from—in the best way. 

Favorite restaurant anywhere?

La Esquina in New York. It’s the best. It’s the place I go anytime I wrap any project; I go straight to La Esquina.  

Best game you ever watched?

Any of Tom Brady’s comebacks.

Best sports moment of your life?

I remember the greatest sports game I ever played in. My brothers were incredible at basketball. I was never very good at basketball. There was one game where I scored 36 points. Any time before that, it was like eight or ten. I went into some alternate vortex, and I’ve been searching for that vortex ever since. 

Favorite athlete?

Larry Bird. Again, it sounds like the Boston answer, but the truth is I think there’s something so inspiring about visually hard work in action unfolding right in front of you. 

Sport you played in high school?

Basketball. And I ran cross country to get in shape for basketball.

Morning person or night owl?

A bit of both now because I’m up with the kids, which is my favorite part of the day. But then at night is when most of my ideas come. 

Workout you always avoid but really should do?

Leg day. I just got tired thinking about it. 

How many hours a night of sleep do you need to function?

How many do I need? Eight or nine. How many do I get? Usually five or six. I tap out at fix or six.

Favorite character from anything?

Right off the top of my head it’s still Atticus Finch, because I think from a young age it put a perspective on justice and goodness, whatever that means, in a real way. That it wasn’t some esoteric idea. That it was actually something that you could practice and stand up for what you believe in—in a very tangible way rather than this holier and greater way. It was actually one man making one decision that he felt was right. I’ll never forget it. 

Character you dressed up as as a kid?

Peter Pan. I think I was Peter Pan maybe seven times in a row. My mom made the costume, it was incredible. And I definitely remember her negotiating, “Are you sure you want to do this again?” And I was like, “For sure.” I have the picture, and it was amazing because I had freckles put on. My daughter just recently saw it and said, “Daddy, I didn’t know you had freckles,” and I said, “I didn’t. I put those on.” And she was like, “What’s happening?” 

Person you look up to the most?

My parents for sure. My parents have been instrumental, very clearly, in every way. They’re the barometer of how I make sense of any of this. The fact that I get to have conversations with them about all of it makes all of this make sense, otherwise it’s just fantasy camp.

In another life I would have been…

A teacher. I was going to be a teacher, and by the way, straight up the only reason was because of Dead Poets Society. I saw that movie, and I was like, “That’s it. I will wear tweed, I will make kids stand on desks, and this is going to be great for me.” I went all through college thinking I was going to be a teacher. Only because I started a semester late in college and had to make up a semester, I ended up going to a theatre school to make it up, and that changed my life. For a minute there, I was like “Alright, local prep schools, get ready for John Krasinski and standing on desks.”

What would you tell your 13-year-old self?

Anticipate nothing, it’s always worse in your head. 

CHECK OUT JOHN

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