John Krasinski: “A Quiet Place felt like this incredible allegory for parenthood”

The star and director of the year's most original horror movie talked Jaws, scares and sequels.

A Quiet Place with John Krasinski.Image Paramount

It’s scary how far John Krasinski has come since playing the loveable Jim Halpert on The American Office. Really scary.

Earlier this year, Krasinski earned plaudits from critics and horror movie fans alike with A Quiet Place. Krasinski co-wrote, directed and starred in the film, which garnered as much praise for its concept as it did the sheer number of jump-out-of-your-seat scares.

He plays an ordinary man who, along with his pregnant wife (Emily Blunt) and children, must find a way to navigate and survive in a world overrun by mysterious blind alien creatures capable of hunting humans by sound alone. To mark the film’s release on DVD, Blu-ray, and download. John broke his silence to speak to loaded.

loaded: This feels like a real departure for you. What made you want to do a horror film?

Krasinski: That’s a great question. What the hell was I thinking!  I’ve always been a scaredy cat. I never used to watch horror movies but I love them now.  It was one of those things where I was read this great script. While the scares and idea were phenomenal, to me, what I immediately related to was this idea of family.

A Quiet Place felt like this incredible allegory for parenthood and the extremes you would go to, to protect your kids. Three weeks before I read the first script, we had had our second daughter, so I was actually holding this tiny, vulnerable, human being while reading a story about what would you do in the worst circumstances to safeguard your family

So that was what appealed to me. Then it was a case of learning how to make a horror movie. I just dove deep. If you had looked at my iTunes for the last year you would think I have a really dark problem.

loaded: So, what scares you when it comes to horror?

Krasinski: The idea of tension which is something I really wanted to explore in this film. Jaws is one of my favourite horror movies and what makes it so great is that feeling of constant tension that runs throughout it. Watching and never knowing if something is going to jump out and scare you. That is such a brilliant thing. It’s the same way Alfred Hitchcock films put you on edge. Movies like Psycho or Vertigo, where you never know when it’s going to hit you, so to speak.

John Krasinski in A Quiet Place.

loaded: You’ve talked about the film as a metaphor for parenthood. Do you think there’s also a message there about freedom of speech?

Krasinski: It’s interesting. People have talked about the film having this message about freedom of speech and the political landscape we’re living in right now. That’s not what I was going for. I think the two things that I was really looking at was the notion that we are all living in this individualistic society where we are all on our phones and having our own experience.

This feels like an interesting metaphor to talk about survival through this group of people and how the only way to survive is to rely on others. So that idea of family was huge for me. The other notion is this shared experience, without phones and without that individual experience, where you, as a group, have to open up to the sound around you. Having to listen to the environment around you rather than focus on something in your hand. 

“I’ve always been a scaredy cat. I never used to watch horror movies”

loaded: Is A Quiet Place a film that demands silence from its audience?

Krasinski: If I say that it does, I will sound like a jerk director, a pretentious ass. But I think that the fun thing is that audiences have been saying that. Some of the best compliments I’ve had have been like “I couldn’t eat my popcorn” or “I bought a bag of Skittles and couldn’t open the bag”. That’s a great thing. It’s not always the best compliment for a movie but, in this instance, it’s great.

loaded: Do you think there is any potential for a sequel?

Krasinski: Maybe. I hope so. But in the same way, I’m so happy to have done this. Like you said, it’s such a departure from what I’ve done before. I wouldn’t want to tempt fate and go further down the well, although I think, if I did it, my idea for a sequel would be to explore the way other people in the world are experiencing the same thing.

loaded: How did you go about creating the film’s soundscape of fear?

Krasinski: Well, we always knew the sound was going to be the main character. That it would be an all-encompassing thing, so to speak. I think in the movies that we go to now, certainly the ones I love, whether it’s the Marvel movies or big budget movies, there’s wall-to-wall sound. What you realise is that taking the sound out of movies is as much an assault on the senses as putting so much sound in.

So to me, it was just about how far we could take it. What’s the threshold for people to have too much sound given to them and then pull sound out completely and have people have to live in silence with the family? It was about making sure we didn’t go too far either way and make it this kind of sound experiment.

loaded: Was there any apprehension about working with Emily?

Krasinski: Absolutely. There was a lot of apprehension for many different reasons. We’ve always wanted to work together but this was one of those things where I was really worried that I would ask her to do it and she would say ‘yes, I will do it for you’, as a favour. Because she’s nice enough to do that but that would have broken my heart because I’ve seen the level of intellect she has and the choices she has made in her career.

So I didn’t even ask her. I was too nervous. She ended up reading the script randomly and at the end of it said she had to do this movie. I wasn’t even sure she was available. She just read it and, in the same way she has with every other movie she’s read and loved, she told me she just had to do it.

loaded: What’s next for you?

Krasinski: I’m doing the Jack Ryan series with Amazon and we’ve already been picked up for a second season, so, for the time being, I’m going to be being Jack Ryan, which couldn’t be more of a departure from this.

A Quiet Place is out on Blu-ray, DVD and download now.

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