As life beyond “The Office” begins to take shape, what’s next for John Krasinski?
BY MARSHALL HEYMAN
PHOTOGRAPHED BY KURT ISWARIENKO
There are certain celebrities who are always at the Chateau Marmont. Actor John Krasinski is definitely one of them.
The hostess knows his favorite table—a circular five-top in the rear of the courtyard, by the bar—but today, a large group is celebrating a birthday, so we settle on a couch. When the waiter takes his order of decaf coffee, Krasinski converses with him as if he’s an old drinking buddy, admiring his tucked-in tie, a particularly new addition to his wardrobe.
And when Krasinski heads home—he and wife Emily Blunt currently live near the hotel—the maître d’ validates his parking ticket with a humorous signature he has formulated especially for the strapping six-foot-three, 32-year-old Brown University graduate who has grown bored of the standard stamp.
Should it come as a surprise that Krasinski, one of the most amiable characters on television, has turned this typically austere, unfriendly and intimidating hotel into a real-life version of “Cheers”?
We have grown to know him, mostly, in our living rooms as Jim Halpert, the immensely likable paper salesman on “The Office” for the past eight seasons. (A ninth and final season began earlier this fall.) Jim is the adorable everyman of this NBC comedy—an underdog we’ve rooted for, since the BBC spin-off hit the airwaves as a midseason replacement in 2005. It was the New Englander’s first major professional job following two post-collegiate years waiting tables at New York joints like Sushi Samba and The Odeon, and what ensued is something he still considers a kind of overnight success.
“My entire career began and has lived through this show,” Krasinski says, after a day at “The Office” set in Van Nuys. “Any movies I’ve made”—and there have been several: George Clooney’s Leatherheads; It’s Complicated with Meryl Streep; Away We Go, directed by Sam Mendes—“have happened because of it. But I’ve never wanted to leave or run away from it. At no point did I ever say, ‘I’m bored. I need something better than this.’ We all wanted to protect it and be there at the end.”
The series finale doesn’t come as a relief. “It’s incredibly sad,” he says. “For us, it’s the end of a family. It’s such a great job.”
Now he certainly has ample time to focus on his film career—both in front of and, most recently, behind the camera. This December 28, Focus Features releases Promised Land, a Gus Van Sant film from Krasinski’s first original screenplay, an idea he developed with S.F. novelist Dave Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) and co-wrote with actor Matt Damon. By the film’s opening date, some armchair bettors are already placing it in the Oscars race. Other clues: The film co-stars Frances McDormand and Hal Holbrook, a supporting cast the budding director calls both “surreal” and “pretty phenomenal.”
“I wanted to tell a story about American identity,” he says of the flick, a contemporary local hero tale in which a natural-gas salesman (Damon) tries to win over a rural Northeastern town in hopes of drilling there. “It’s probably one of the things I’m most proud of that I’ve done in this business.”
While other actors aspire to superhero movies—something that Krasinski, who auditioned for the role of Captain America, says he won’t rule out since “I’m willing to try anything”…
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