John Krasinski has had a spectacular year so far. The actor, who is best known for playing Jim in the American version of The Office, starred in and directed tense horror-thriller A Quiet Place in 2018, which followed up its successful South by Southwest premiere with a blockbusting theatrical run.
Now, Krasinski takes on the iconic role of Jack Ryan, the Tom Clancy character first played by Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for Red October (1990). Harrison Ford took on the part for two further adventures before the series was rebooted twice more with Ben Affleck and most recently Chris Pine.
Krasinski says: “It’s definitely intimidating taking on the role that has been played before by so many great actors. These were successful films and I watched them when they came out. I didn’t revisit them when I got this role though; the format change [from film to TV] felt like a free pass. Not only is it a different performance, but it’s also a different take diving into the details of the character. It was pitched to me as ‘maybe movies aren’t the best place for Jack Ryan.’”
The story of the data analyst with a knack for being in the right place at the wrong time always seemed more suited to the longer form of episodic television given its complex narrative and themes, and so Amazon have paid a handsome figure to bring the series to their streaming platform.
Krasinski explains: “The idea for me is bringing the intelligence community onto the screen in this way. It’s obviously very different to Homeland, a show I love but that is very dark. This is lighter and more commercial. It’s a cool poster child for the CIA.”
Speaking of handsome figures, Krasinski has changed significantly from the awkward yet loveable joker in The Office to a physically imposing man of action.
“I underwent a big physical transformation for 13 Hours [to play a former Navy SEAL] and once you’ve done something like that, I felt like I would be a moron to give that up.
“Maintaining that physicality was something I wanted to do just for me, so when this came up it was a lot easier to slip back into the action stuff I love. Jack Ryan isn’t Jason Bourne; he doesn’t have that superhero level of martial arts. When he [Ryan] gets into a fight, he just wants it to end,” Krasinski states.
“I don’t see myself as a heart-throb!” he exclaims. “It was Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt when I was growing up, and those are heart-throbs. Being married with kids means I’m oblivious to how ‘sexy’ people think I am.”
Having done both film and TV, Krasinski is in no doubt about the cinematic feel of his new show. “You can really feel that someone like Amazon is behind this. They had to go big or go home, and they did. You have to compete with the big movies but still find the balance. We need the intellect of the character as well as the action.”
Krasinski clearly admires his character but is keen to explain why this version of Ryan isn’t the same as the ones we’ve seen before.
“Jack isn’t one note. He is just a guy with a tight moral compass, but we show him in a new world where it isn’t always easy to do the right thing. There are complex decisions that need to be made, doing the right thing becomes almost impossible.”
A second series has already been announced and, although Krasinski has no plans to get behind the camera on this particular project, he’s certainly eager to continue developing his writing and directing skills elsewhere.
“There is so much more fun in my career since I started writing and producing. It seems like the days of actors just sitting around and waiting for the phone to ring to be cast in something are over.”
Paramount, the studio behind A Quiet Place, has said a sequel to the movie will be released in May 2020. Krasinski will be onboard but is still mulling over which direction to take for the follow-up.
“As insane as it might sound, A Quiet Place is a love letter to my kids. If I can come up with a story for A Quiet Place that connects to me in that way, I’d love to do it. The audience that loved this movie were so nice that I just don’t want to let them down. I have to take that into consideration.”
Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is available on Amazon Prime from August 31.