20 October 1979, Newton, Massachusetts
After a series of bit parts in films and TV shows, Krasinski landed a key role in the American version of The Office alongside Steve Carrell, and has been a US household name since. UK audiences have had to work harder to notice him, as he’s so far failed to have a breakout cinema hit, starring in panned Robin Williams vehicle License To Wed and George Clooney’s underappreciated comedy Leatherheads.
What’s he up to now?
Playing opposite another small-screen star, Saturday Night Live’s Maya Rudolph, in the road trip comedy/drama Away We Go. It would be a typically ‘under-the-radar’ indie but for the fact that it’s directed by British awards magnet Sam Mendes.
On getting the part
‘I had read the script a little earlier and thought it was amazing, and then when Sam came on I thought “this is the perfect project, maybe when 75 other actors pass on it I might have a shot”. Then Sam gave me a call and told me he didn’t have anybody else in mind but me, and I thought it was George Clooney with a terrible British accent. But it was real! So to be a part of a movie like this in my break … it’s still hard to wrap my head around.’
On balancing comedy and drama
‘It’s always exciting to just play the truth of any moment, whether it’s funny or not. I think that’s what makes this movie so funny; you’ve got an actress like Maggie Gyllenhaal committing to these jokes as if they’re incredibly dramatic scenes, and that’s why you believe in these crazy people.’
On growing a beard for the film
‘Sam said “I need you to grow a full beard”, and I thought “you can’t just ask a guy to go and grow a beard!” I was terrified that it would come out patchy, and I’d have to wear a wig on one side of my face. But luckily, I hit puberty and it all turned out okay.’
Krasinski has written and directed an adaptation of David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, due to be released later this year.
Away We Go is released on Friday 18 Sep. This article originally appeared in The List.