John Krasinski didn’t just direct and star in the thriller A Quiet Place — he and wife Emily Blunt actually lived it. Sort of.
“One night she said, ‘Living silently would be hard,’” he says. “As the weeks went by we would constantly make note of it. It wasn’t even just getting silverware to make the kid’s lunch. It was more like you’re putting the kids to bed and the bed creaks. You think, we are legitimately surrounded by sound.”
The famous couple star as parents fighting for the survival of their kids in a world invaded by monsters that use sound to hunt human prey. The family must live in silence, use sign language and eat off leaves to avoid the clinking of cutlery on china but what happens when their newborn baby cries? Can life go on?
Krasinski, who starred as Jim Halpert on The Office for eight years, calls the spec script “truly one of the best ideas I’d ever heard,” but admits worrying “that a lack of dialogue would be a thing.”
“Then on about Day 2 or 3 was, ‘Wait a minute. Maybe the thing I am most scared of is our superpower. This is actually super engaging.’ The fact that people are going to be able to experience sound in a completely different way was really fun.”
The silence of the first half of A Quiet Place is deafening. In the way that many filmmakers use bombast to grab your attention Krasinski uses the absence of sound to focus the audience on the situation.
“One of my favourite things about this whole experience has been listening to audiences understand what’s happening,” he says. “Usually the first thirty seconds of the movie you hear people shifting in their seats. Maybe they take a couple bites of popcorn. Then you realise collectively in the room people say, ‘I can’t do this.’ I love that.”
Krasinski and Blunt have been married since 2010 and have two children, Hazel and Violet, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t nervous to ask her to co-star in the film.
“I always wanted Emily to do it but the two versions of this in my head were going to go really wrong. I ask her to do it and she says no, which makes dinner really awkward. Or she says yes, ‘For you I’ll do it.’ I didn’t want her to choose this for me and have it be a weird experience. I’ve seen how good a career she has because of what she’s chosen to do. I needed her to come to it on her own.
“When she asked me to read the script I didn’t think she’d say yes. She was doing Mary Poppins and we had our second child, so she was busy. Then she said, ‘You can’t let anybody else do this role.’ I know it sounds corny but it is true. It is still the greatest compliment of my career because I know what it takes for her to say yes.”
As director, writer, star and executive producer Krasinski has had a hand in all aspects of A Quiet Place. How does he feel now that the film is winning critical raves? “It goes back to that primal thing of the kids at school thinking what you think is cool, is cool.”