LONDON — Office work is over for John Krasinski. He’s now a kick-ass action star.
The Boston native, who played it mild-mannered for eight seasons on The Office, is all muscle as a CIA hero in the new Amazon Prime Video thriller Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. The eight episode series is up now and available for streaming.
I spoke with the actor in London in June along with executive producers Carlton Cuse (Lost, The Strain) and former marine-turned writer Graham Roland.
Krasinski says London is like a second home to him now. The actor has a home there with his actress wife Emily Blunt and their daughters. They also have a residence in New York City.
I’ve spoken with Cuse several times over the years, dating all the way back to his first series as a showrunner, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. I have keen memories of standing on the old (and long gone) Warner Bros. western lot, chatting in the middle of a dusty street outside a TV saloon with John Astin (The Addams Family).
Cuse sees Krasinski as a perfect choice for the role of a CIA accountant who gets rushed into action.
“To me, he really represents the best in the classic hero tradition of Gary Cooper or a lot of the characters Tom Hanks has played. Just this moral centered good man in a world where his dilemma as a character is can he maintain his morality in a world that is sometime immoral or amoral?”
Cuse sees late author Clancy’s original Cold War novels as a a place where men were men and not the dark, conflicted anti-heroes of modern day television. Or, as he put it, “We all hope there is a guy like Jack Ryan standing between us and the perils of the world.”
Roland thinks it works to the producers advantage if viewers come to the series thinking Krasinski is too “Office” for the job. “They’re going to have this image of him in The Office and very quickly you see him fighting two guys in a cell in Yemen. He defies expectations and it’s kind of what he was doing at the time with his career. He’d just done ’13 Hours.'”
That was the feature film soldier story Krasinski bulked up for two years ago. He managed to stay in fighting shape for Jack Ryan.
Krasinski praised the Montreal crew who worked alongside him on the series, singling out the stunt team for special praise. The actor spent 12 winter-y weeks shooting interiors in Quebec before lensing the desert exteriors in Morocco. Cuse is used to working in Canada, having shoot The Strain in Toronto and Bate’s Motel in Vancouver. He might have stuck with T.O. but with that city maxed out he jumped at getting the Montreal crew behind the “X-Men” movies to shoot Jack Ryan.
The fight scene in what is supposed to be Yemen (shot in a former Montreal train factory) took a week to shoot but it was worth it, says Krasinski. “I love that scene ’cause it feels more like a bar fight than a military objective.” A hockey fight? “Exactly! Right up against the boards!”
For more on Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, follow this link to the feature I wrote for The Canadian Press.