If you watched actor John Krasinski play Jim Halpert on the NBC sitcom The Office (2005–2013), you’d never know that he had also been a producer and director. Though known for this comedic role, he made the drama Brief Interviews with in 2009’s Hideous Men and the comedic The Hollars in 2016. In addition, he had established a production company, Sunday Night Productions, in 2013 and married British actress Emily Blunt with whom he had two children. But when he co-wrote, directed, and starred (with wife Emily) in the critically and commercially successful horror-thriller film A Quiet Place (which was released 2018), he established himself as an entertainment juggernaut.
He got a nomination for Critics’ Choice Movie Award and Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay. As a result, Paramount banked on its sequel, A Quiet Place Part II, which he also directed, co-produced, and wrote, to lead off the summer with a big debut in the recently reopened movie theaters.
Krasinski also portrayed the title character in the Amazon’s spy thriller series Jack Ryan (2018–present) — on which he has been a co-producer. For that role, he was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series.
His much anticipated sequel not only stars Blunt again as Evelyn and his character’s two surviving children — Regan, her deaf daughter (Millicent Simmonds) and son Marcus (Noah Jupe) as well as other survivors played by actors Cillian Murphy and Dijmon Hounsou.
An Exclusive Interview with Writer/Director/Co-Producer John Krasinski on ‘A Quiet Place Part II.’
Q: Did you have a concept for the sequel when you made the original film?
J.K : I never had a concept of the sequel. I was always interested in the idea. One of my favorite responses from the first movie was how audiences said they wanted to know how other people were surviving. I was really thinking about a sequel when I was doing the first one but never thought it would come to fruition.
I definitely was thinking about other people, that’s why I put those fires in the movie that Lee is communicating with somebody on top of the silo and you don’t know who. When I did decide to do the sequel, that’s where I decided to head first, was the idea of who else was on the other side of those fires and how was everyone else surviving. I always wanted to explore those questions, but it wasn’t until I had the idea of how to continue the metaphor of the first one.
The first one is about parents making the promise to their children that as long as you stay with us, you’ll be safe and everything will be OK. That promise is obviously broken at the end of the movie. But it’s a promise that’s broken between every parent and child. At some point you have to let your kids go out into the world. I realize that the second movie is really about growing up, dealing with loss and adjusting to the world around you and making your own way in the world.
Q: Besides the family, were there any new situations being explored?
J.K: They’re definitely going to meet other people in the world. The cool thing about this was I didn’t want to make another sequel just for the sequel’s sake and just to have another [film].
My idea was to pay respect to the audience — and they were amazingly generous in their response. I wanted to make sure that the story was the driving force behind the sequel, meaning I didn’t want to just do cool things and introduce a lot of new people [just to do so].
But this family has to leave the farm and safety of their home and of all their secure safety plans they had at home. So, everything they do is unpredictable — the danger is everywhere. These people they have to meet along the way are all very organic. You’re going to definitely see how other people have survived.
You’ll see that our family, the Abbotts, are surrounded not only by safety, but the love, support, intimacy and strength of a family. Without that love and preparation, these people are living in darker times. Other people are living in scarier times in a much more fear-based environment.
Q: In the first film, your family was filmed around the house, and you put that paper on the wall or a mask on the baby or something like that, for the sake of being quiet. Are there new elements or ideas about this quiet environment that you advanced in this sequel?
J.K : When they leave the farm, they have no system of safety anymore, so they don’t have any of their tricks. They have to adopt other people’s tricks as to how to stay quiet, and that’s what you see in this movie. It’s really fun to see how these other people have survived, which is much different than the way the family did in their clever way. These other people are doing it in a more desperate way, and so you see how they remain quiet in contrast to the family.
Q: Are there new props that are used for them to remain quiet?
J.K : It’s props and set pieces, so there will definitely be things like that in the room.
Q: With the first film, we don’t know what’s going on, or why they’re quiet. But this time, the world already expects it, so how do you surprise the audience in the opening scene of this film?
J.K : I was aware of the fact that the audience would understand this whole world, so I had to do something surprising at the opening of the movie. So, don’t be late to the movie.
Q: When you started the first one, the man had to do the hunting or get all the food and the woman had to do the cooking or house chores. How did the family dynamic shift and change in this film?
J.K : It completely shifted because there was no patriarch or father in the family, so everyone had to be in a survival mode. Whereas everything before was very well prepared, now there’s no preparation. The mother in this movie becomes completely the parental figure… Everything she does is out of desperation, which she certainly didn’t do in the first movie. Everything was planned. Now it’s all very desperate and fear-based, so the mother takes care of the children in many different ways. But, you also get to see how the baby’s been taking care.
Q: The original movie had a modest budget. For the second one, everything was scaled up, can you reveal what else is scaled up on this one?
J.K : Certainly, a lot more is happening in this movie. Again, I didn’t want to make a sequel just be bigger and flashier, but the world is much bigger here. And there’s so much more going on around them. There’s a lot more action sequences and scares for sure, because, again, it had to be organic to the story. Once they leave the farm and go from a safe place, everything around can potentially kill. Everything around them is much more heightened. So, I was able to do a lot more with the set pieces.
Q: In the first, you had a pre-production meeting with Millicent and Noah. Did you do it this time around?
J.K : We were all so bonded from the first one. It was really about incorporating Cillian Murphy because I think Cillian was actually really, it was very sweet, I think he was very nervous to come in. He was such a big fan of the first one, which was so nice. But I think he was a little nervous to come into this family.
The first thing we did was to make sure that we got everybody together, introduce Cillian to the family and bring them into our world as fast as possible. We had such an amazing group of actors. It really did feel like a family, and on this one, I think that we know their families, the parents, and the kids a lot better. It was a lot easier this time. We all felt like we were just returning to the place we knew so well.
Q: In the previous film, Emily was pregnant while you were shooting. How was the collaboration this time around, particularly on the set?
J.K : Bar none, Emily is the greatest collaborator I’ve ever worked with. I’ve been saying this from the beginning, that she’d be the best writer, director, producer the business has ever seen. It’s what makes her such a great actress. She’s so aware of things like structure, budget, timing, all those things that strain a movie. She understands it so well.
On the first one, we were fearful to see what it would be like to work together. When it went so well, this time it was just much more fun. There was no fear that it wouldn’t go well. She was incredibly helpful. I ran every idea by her from ideas for the story to ideas for the structure. I remember she was the first person I told that I wanted to cast Cillian in and she said, “that’s great! That’s who I want to work with.”
It was all really exciting. She’s as much a part of this movie as anyone, and it’s very rare to be able to work with your wife at all, but to be able to look to her as your strongest collaborator is fantastic.
Q: One of the toughest scenes to shoot was the bus stop sequence. What are the toughest scenes in this movie that stood out to you?
J.K : A bunch of them, but most importantly was the one in the trailer. That’s all one shot. We have a camera in the back of the car with Emily and that’s really happening. Everything you see in that shot, that’s one job. Every stunt person, car crash, everything is real and all very practical. So that took an incredible amount of rehearsal. We had this amazing camera that was actually a robot arm that you had to program all the shots into. As a crew we rehearsed that for three or four weeks, and then we got only three tries at it. The one in the movie is the first try.
Q: How did those additional cast members affect this film? Could you expand on it a bit more.
J.K : it was so great to have both Cillian and Djimon. The only other character that we met in the first one was the old man in the woods. and he very evidently wasn’t doing as well as our family. There’s a real ambiguity to these characters. With Cillian especially, you don’t know if he’s good or bad, if you can trust him or not. The character he plays is representative of a real population of people that would live that way if this had happened to them.
If these creatures came down and everything like that, there are people who would deal with it very well, like our family. Cillian represents the majority of the world, which would be very scary. He’s seen a lot of loss and fear, and he’s barely surviving, so he doesn’t want to interact with other people. He does represent that big question of how is everybody else surviving? Djimon plays a character who is surviving in a completely different way, and he’s surviving well, and you have to figure out why he’s surviving so well.
Q: There are so many interesting characters here. But some audience members who didn’t see the first one, might just go and see the second one. What did you do to make the sequel stand on its own?
J.K : I wanted to make sure that the opening in the movie was done in a way that if you hadn’t seen the first one, you’d still understand the rules. And like I said, there’s a big surprise in the opening of the movie, and when you see this prize and what’s happening, I think you’re caught up to speed in a way that all the rules are laid out for you again in a very quick way. So, if you haven’t seen the first one, you’re OK to see this one.
Q: Did any Japanese horror films inspire you? Did anything in Japanese culture or Japanese films inspire you to make this film?
J.K : Japanese cinema has been an influence on our cinema all over the place. For me, it’s probably been influential indirectly but I can’t think of anything in particular. I think that there’s something in Japanese cinema that I love that’s cutting edge. It’s doing things very differently and taking big chances. I think that our conceit of the whole world being quiet and that high-wire act of doing basically a silent film is something you would more likely to see in a Japanese film than an American film.
Q: Emily said she had been a stutter when she was a kid, and because of that struggle as a child, she explored her role through a strong female identity. It adds to the significance of this movie.
J.K : I love that one of the responses to our movie at the end of the first one was Girl Power. I’ll take girl power any day! Not only because I have daughters, but because I respect humans. Girl power is a pretty great ending to any movie, but these characters are strong. I never intended that it would be necessarily a feminist movie. It’s just that a good character is a good character.
In my eye, a woman or a man can be the lead of any sort of storyline or movie. But especially in being married to Emily, she can makes any parts that she doing look easy,
At the end of the day, it’s this mother and daughter… They’re connected at the end of the movie. The little girl has the answer with the hearing aid, but it wasn’t until her mom shot the creature that they were able to defeat them. It’s a team effort. I love the idea of a team more than the idea of it being a woman. That’s not as important as it being a team the family needs to stay together.
Q: What do you want an audience to see in this film in particular?
: My favorite part for the young audiences is that the heroes of this movie are the kids.The children are definitely the heroes of this second movie., That is something really important to me. The youth of the world are responding to this movie. That’s really exciting because this second movie is about growing up and how you have to do things on your own.
Surviving moments of darkness and fear, that’s defined as heroism and bravery. You’re going to see it through these characters. I hope that young audiences are excited to see another young person be the hero of the movie.
Here’s the trailer of the film.