John Krasinski is continuing his career in front and behind the camera in his latest film The Hollars.
The actor, who gained a good haul of popularity with his role as Jim Harper on The Office, eventually made his way down the movie industry with roles in Leatherheads, Away We Go and the recent film 13 Hours.
In The Hollars, Krasinski directs and stars as John, a man who discovers from his dysfunctional brother that their mother is ill. With his trip down to see his family, John is brought back to his flawed and wacky relatives who make him look more awkward than ever. And to make his life a bit more complicated, John's girlfriend Rebecca (played by Anna Kendrick) is pregnant, but the preparation isn't quite there.
The dramedy embarks upon touching moments that are hysterical, tear-jerking and sweet. Being in the film and directing could've had challenges, but Krasinski was up for the task.
At a recent press conference in West Hollywood, California, the actor opened up on what he's learned as a director, working with Kendrick and how it made him think-- not just as a performer, but also as a family man.
Was there ever a time where you weren't sure if you were going to direct as well as star in this film?
I signed on as an actor about six or seven years ago because it was a really well-written script. I had no intention of being in a family movie until I read [this] script and realized that's the way to tell a family story so I signed on immediately. Then four years later, as often happens with these small movies, the finance of time couldn't get it made and asked if I'd buy the script and make it myself. That's a pretty big undertaking, but I didn't hesitate for this one because the script was so good.
Your character goes through a lot of hardships about becoming a father. How did that affect you as a father, yourself?
When I signed on as an actor six or seven years ago, I obviously didn't have kids. So I connected to it just because I related to it I think the way that I hope audiences do, which is just related to my family. Then when we started shooting as a director, my daughter was one and-a-half months old. So to say that my understanding of the script was vastly different would be the understatement of the century. I was completely and totally connected to the script in a whole new way...I understood sort of the existential magic connection between family. So I understood my parents better, I understood my brothers better.
Did you have any challenges as a director and an actor?
For me, this one was really easy to be honest...it was actually vital for me to be an actor. I think the most important thing about this movie is it has to feel like you're a family. I think there's something universally connected about this script, so for me, the most important thing is that family feels like a real family.
What was your chemistry like with Anna Kendrick-- not just acting with her, but directing her as well?
Anna, just like everyone else in the movie, is fantastic at what she does. And another thing that most people don't know is that Anna was shooting Pitch Perfect 2 every single day that we were shooting. So on her only day off she drove from New Orleans to Jackson, Mississippi to be in our movie, which says two things-- one, she's very good at her job, she's dedicated, she knows what it means to be a professional. Two, she supports films like this and that's a very important thing for her. That essence comes out in everything you do with her. So all my scenes there was probably a little behind me of every acting performance that was thanking her through my eyes for doing this.
Your character is present for his family as he faces fatherhood. As a dad, actor and director, has this film taught you anything about being present for your own family?
I was lucky enough to be brought up in the most loving situation...one of the adjustments you have to make is when you do go away, you go for a while so you have to figure it out. I'm not the first actor that's raised a family. Also, my friends who are in business travel all the time, so I'm not unique or special in this situation. Yet it doesn't stop me wanting to make sure I'm the best at it for me. So I try to spend every single second I can with my kids and I mean every single second. I love nothing more than being in a small pop-up tent with my daughter in our living room playing whatever she wants to play. The opportunity I've been afforded with my wife is that hopefully we can start switching off and planning for it. One of us will always be there for our kids.
What have you learned from working with other directors that has benefited you when you wanted to step up to the plate?
When I got to The Office, I truly believe that it is a lottery ticket life I got. So I don't feel that I deserve it, I feel like I'm trying to deserve staying here. And in order to do that, every second of every day, I was trying to learn and get better and watch these writers, which was amazing. And moving into film, I learned from everybody. I remember George Clooney telling me you can always make a bad movie out of a good script, but you can never make a good movie out of a bad script. So always choose your projects carefully and make sure you love it.
The Hollars is now playing in theaters.