Most sidekicks on half hour network comedy TV shows finish their run, pack up their bags, count their modest cash and the next time you see them they’re pulling off an owl head on the premiere of FOX’s The Masked Singer.
But John Krasinski? Not him.
Krasinski learned early from his time on The Office and from starring alongside other prolific producers like George Clooney, that if you want a long term career in Hollywood, you gotta get into the Producing business. And not only do you have to get into the Producing business, but you gotta own things. You gotta own books, articles, twitter threads, Instagram stories, blog posts, ideas written on napkins and much much more.
Krasinski also learned that before you are a Producer with those things, you gotta get some experience and credits producing some projects. And then and only then, when one or two of them get some juice and awards love, can you parlay that into the next big opportunity.
Take Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, the 2009 film that Krasinski wrote and directed, based on optioning a story collection from David Foster Wallace. Not only did Krasinski leverage his own appearance in the film to help generate financing, but he also marshaled some of the other talent he was friends with like Will Forte, Bobby Cannavale, Timothy Hutton, Chris Messina and Chris Meloni. The film barely made $40k, but it was released by IFC films in a day-and-date release pattern that made it available on digital and in some limited theatrical release locations at the same time.
It was the Trojan horse to Krasinski’s next two big moves.
Next, Krasinski got involved as a Director and Actor in The Hollars, another indie but with a much larger budget ($3.8m) that was eventually released by Sony Pictures Classics. Despite only doing $1m+ in theaters, the film had a great ensemble cast including John, Anna Kendrick, Richard Jenkins, Charlie Day and Mary Kay Place and would go on to be a solid performer on the digital and home entertainment platforms. It also came with some solid festival play that put John as “Director” in the driver’s seat, speaking in public about his craft, and positioning himself as more than just an actor.
As most learn, but few put into action, Krasinski knew that he had to leverage his contacts through acting, his relationships with talent and his proactive attitude to drive projects forward even if he wasn’t starring in them. Such was the case with Manchester By the Sea — which was an idea Krasinski and Matt Damon had come up with together and pitched writer Kenneth Lonergan years after the two had starred in a play written by the scribe over a decade prior. Lonergan loved the idea, went off and wrote the movie, and despite neither of the two starring in the film, it netted both of them (but especially Krasinski) an Executive Producer credit on the award-nominated, box-office juggernaut of indie proportions.
Krasinski had shown he knew what he was doing.
Then the script for A Quiet Place came across his desk. All roads had been leading up to this. Krasinski had proven his ability as an actor, a writer and a Director and had award-nominated films and box office performers lining up behind him. He had distanced himself significantly from The Office (except on Netflix where that’s all anyone was watching) and had enough power behind him to agree to star in the film as long as he could rewrite the script and be attached as Director. Krasinski knew that if he could get them to say yes, he could redefine himself again in a new genre and potentially change the next decade of his career in a significant way.
A Quiet Place went on to generate over $340 million dollars globally, establish Krasinski as a blockbuster talent in front of and behind the camera, and prove that he was not a one trick sitcom pony. Not only did it revive Paramount the year it came out, but it opened up a new Chapter for Krasinski thanks to his risk taking, strategy-focused career defining moves. It was no surprise that A Quiet Place 2 would quickly be put into development with John K. at the helm.
Since then, Krasinski has more than half a dozen projects in development and production; attached as writer, director and actor (in some scenarios). He’s Executive Produced and Directed television shows, streaming shows, starred in two seasons of Prime Video’s Jack Ryan and participated in his family unit, co-starring none other than Emily Blunt. They’re a powerhouse family with smarts, instinct and an amazing work ethic.
So let this be a lesson to all of you fat cat sitcom-starring celebrities wondering what you’re going to do when that show gets cancelled just shy of it’s third streaming season, or just prior to the Network cancelling it for yet another masked singer show. Follow in the footsteps of one John Krasinski, who took a mildly popular role on a kick-ass sitcom and leveraged it for a career that will be looked back on as one of the most successful ones to date.
And the dude can do a mean Boston accent, too.