John Krasinski, Writer: yay or nay?
I mean, obviously, who doesn’t love Jim on The Office? John Krasinski is cute—so tall!—and he’s adorable with Emily Blunt and he makes us laugh, so yes, of course, I know we all like him, in general. But The Office is ending. Entering its final season, it’s time for the series’ stars to start lining up their next gigs. Mindy Kaling is already off to Fox with her new show The Mindy Project (which I’m not into, but I think I’ll be alone in that) along with BJ Novak, who is executive producing, and he’s also got an acting job in the Walt Disney biopic Saving Mr. Banks. Rainn Wilson will be parlaying Dwight Schrute into the (ill-advised) Office spin-off about Dwight’s family farm. Ed Helms works regularly in movies, and Jenna Fischer, too, is bound for the features (for a while, at least) when the show wraps. So what of Krasinski?
He doesn’t just want to act, he wants to write (as Duana pointed out , Krasinski tends to anticipate his moments. I talk about it a lot—the branding of actors. Sometimes I wonder if Krasinski really knows what his brand is). And this was the topic of debate between Lainey and me: John Krasinski, Writer: yay or nay?
I’m a very conditional “yay”. Lainey pointed out that Krasinski’s first screenplay, and also his directorial debut, 2009’s Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, is intolerable. I don’t argue that Krasinski, as a writer, demonstrates a distressing tendency to navel-gaze. He admires writers like Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace (on whose book Interviews was based). These are jocular, post-millennial POVs that are saturated in a certain kind of “New York maleness”, as Lainey put it. But there’s nothing wrong with liking those writers, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting (wishing?) to write like them.
The problem comes when you’re stifling your own voice because you’re trying to sound like someone else. This is Krasinski’s issue, I think. He’s not a total loss as a writer—nowhere near it. He just needs someone to save him from his own self-indulgence. Enter Matt Damon and Gus Van Sant. Krasinski is co-starring in Promised Land, directed by Van Sant. The story is by Dave Eggers but the script was co-written by Krasinksi and Damon. The trailer is below, and it doesn’t look bad. It looks like a step back from the self-indulgent introspection, and Van Sant is such a sparing director, it’s hard to imagine him getting derailed into the Man-Child Self-Reflection Hour.
I’m intrigued by Krasinski’s prospects as a writer. There’s something there worth our time if it can be channeled correctly. Promised Land seems, well, promising.
Attached – Matt Damon with John Krasinski at the TIFF 2012 premiere of Argo.