How to Listen Like
How to listen like John Krasinski
July 6, 2021
July 6, 2021
Silence is not enough. That’s the tagline of director John Krasinski’s new horror movie A Quiet Place Part II. It’s the sequel to 2018’s smash hit A Quiet Place in which a family must live in silence to avoid mysterious creatures that hunt by sound. Krasinski continues the tale of terror and the family now ventures into the outside world in their fight for survival.
A Quiet Place is 90 minutes long yet only has about 90 lines of dialogue. Communication is done almost entirely by sign language and facial expressions. In addition to casting his real-life wife, Emily Blunt, in both movies, Krasinski also cast deaf actress Millicent Simmonds as the daughter. Simmonds taught Krasinski sign language as they practiced their lines together with an ASL mentor. “In the movie, we’ve been signing together for years and years. So it should look fluent,” she said.”
Krasinski listened and learned from the young actress. He recalled, “I’ve never had someone take in all of me when I’m speaking, so to have someone take in your gestures and your face and really feel your essence, it’s really a beautiful thing. So she helped us get there a lot faster than we would have on our own.”
Being quiet during a conversation is one of the keys to being an active listener. Focusing your energy on listening rather than talking allows you to understand more fully what is being said and comprehend it. It also may help you avoid the monsters if you somehow find yourself in A Quiet Place!
Being a good film director means paying attention to every detail and that includes being a good listener. Krasinski recalled directing A Quiet Place in upstate New York. On one of the first days of filming, “… I’ll never forget, you know, “Quiet on set” is on every movie, but way more important on this one, and I remember the crew saying, “Wow, the forest sounds so cool.” And you realize, man, we don’t take any time to listen to our environments anymore. That was a cool day.”
Learning to be quiet on the set of A Quiet Place took some getting used to. The cast and crew learned together just how quiet they needed to be. Krasinski said, “Like, no, you literally can’t move because we need the room tone, we need the breeze through the trees, we need the corn, we need the barn. It wasn’t like, yeah, I’ll put in ‘barn’ later. And instead of the crew being gruff about not being able to live a normal life on set, they really embraced it. They thought, we’re making something special here.”
In 2005, Krasinski auditioned for The Office and was up against some big names for the role. The casting director said they were going to break for lunch. A guy sat down to eat next to Krasinski and asked him if he was nervous about his audition. Krasinski replied, “Oh no, you either get these things, or you don't. What I'm really nervous about is them screwing up a perfect show. The Americans always have the ability to screw up these amazing British shows and I'm afraid this is going to be another one of them."
To Krasinski’s dismay, that guy turned out to be Greg Daniels, the executive producer. The faux pas ended up working in Krasinski’s favor and he got the part of paper salesman Jim Halpert. Daniels later said, "Honesty is the best policy. It's the reason you got the role." Maybe Krasinski didn’t listen very well to what the others in the room were saying but his honesty is what got him the part. Honesty is a big part of listening since it helps with the attributes of credibility and empathy.
Krasinski grew up in Massachusetts with his parents Ronald and Mary Claire Krasinski. To Krasinski’s delight, when he told his parents he wanted to move to New York City and be an actor his mother replied without hesitation, “Great. Just promise me one thing: That in 2 1/2, three years, if you don't have a bite, if there's not that idea that maybe something's coming, you have to pull yourself out of it, because the only thing you can't ask me to do as your mom is tell her son to give up on his dreams."
Two-and-a-half years were filled with a few commercials and some off- off- off-Broadway plays. Krasinski was ready to acknowledge that it was time to go in another direction -- until he listened to his mother. He spoke with her in September and she said, "Oh, it's September, just finish out the year!" And three weeks later Krasinski got the part in The Office.
Hollywood couple Krasinski and actress Emily Blunt have been married for 10 years. They met through a mutual friend at a Los Angeles restaurant in November 2008. Blunt was having dinner with a friend and Krasinski was there with actor Justin Theroux. Blunt recalled, “He was sitting with our friend Justin Theroux, and he abandoned Justin and came over to us. He just stood there and made me laugh. I kind of [knew right away.]." And that meeting led to their first date.
It’s not always nice to stop listening to your dinner companion and ditch them to speak with someone else. But for Krasinski, we’re sure Justin was probably forgiving since he was there to witness the ‘meet-cute.’ Krasinski and Blunt would go on to marry in Lake Como, Italy, and have two children. Blunt fondly revealed, “Meeting John really changed my life. When I feel the support that I have from him, I feel invincible. There’s someone behind you on your good days and someone in front of you on your bad days." So while Krasinski may not listen as a dinner companion, he certainly does as a loving and supportive husband.
So, were you truly listening while you were watching A Quiet Place? Maybe you were more focused on listening to your screams! You may have caught the cute Easter egg scene that was a throwback to Krasinski’s days on The Office.
In A Quiet Place, Krasinski's character shares a romantic dance to a Neil Young song with co-star Emily Blunt. Blunt is wearing headphones and sweetly pulls her husband away from a project he's working on and takes out one of her earbuds so he can listen to the song as well.
That move is reminiscent of a memorable scene in The Office when Krasinski's character, Jim Halpert, falls for Pam Beesly. They share a remarkably similar and tender moment with a headphone exchange in a season two episode.
Go have a listen to that Neil Young song “Harvest Moon” -- quietly, with headphones of course.
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