Five Favorite Films with John Krasinski

The Away We Go and Office star reveals his beloved list of movies.

John Krasinski

John Krasinski's character on The Office, paper salesman Jim Halpert, is one of pop culture's most unlikely icons, a hero for nice (if mischievous and self-assured) guys to model after and for girls of more quirky, sophisticated tastes to daydream over. Krasinski's film roles have been thoughtful variations on Jim, including Burt Farlander of his new film, Away We Go. Directed by Sam Mendes and written by power literary couple Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, Burt is an aimless, devoted husband who travels the nation looking for a new home for his equally aimless wife (played by Maya Rudolph). On the cusp of Away We Go's Friday limited release, RT spoke with Krasinski about his Five Favorite Films.

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979, 88% Tomatometer)
Kramer vs. KramerI was one of those kids who had never seen an indie film before I got to college. If it wasn't a big, huge tentpole movie, or if it wasn't on the radio, I hadn't experienced it. Then in college I started getting into independent movies, which led me to classic movies, which led me to all this different stuff. The 1970s movies, for me, were only discovered, unfortunately, as little as six or seven years ago.

So Kramer vs. Kramer. Some of the greatest writing I've ever seen, some of the gutsiest performances. It's just so quintessential of what the 1970s were for me. There's just this unfiltered, raw energy, and despite how beautiful that movie is -- and obviously, it's a well done movie -- the fact [is] that they're not making movies like that anymore. [Kramer vs. Kramer is about] a horrible relationship. It's a really tough situation for the father to be in, and yet [for] everyone who went and saw the movie, there was this weird understanding or commiseration with anger. I think people might have been angrier, or willing to see angry movies.

Ordinary People (1980, 91% Tomatometer)
Ordinary PeopleTimothy Hutton turns in one of the best male performances I've ever seen. And that family dynamic was so subtle in what could have been a really angsty movie. Everything from the way it was shot to the way it was acted. John Bailey was actually the DP on my movie that I directed (Brief Interviews with Hideous Men) and he was saying that when they shot the psychiatrist scenes he started out with the camera right over their shoulders, and then he moved the camera back slowly and changed the lighting, because he said that if you'd been going to therapy for months, then the lighting would be different every time of the same day. And I thought, "That's insane that someone thought of that." And then he moved the camera back 100 feet so that they were compressed on each other so it was a much more intimate scene. I was like, "Wait, wait, wait, this is insane!"

The Verdict (1982, 96% Tomatometer)
The VerdictI think it's probably one of the most inspirational movies for me because of Paul Newman's performance. I think that is, to me, some of the best, [most] controlled acting in a movie. I think that he has this incredible likability. Even though he's a drunk, washed-up lawyer, you're still rooting for him from the very beginning.

I'm that sort of weird guy who will watch a movie almost every day if I can. It's harder when you're working on the show. I buy a lot of movies on used DVD so I can have certain scenes. I was really looking for things to inspire me. When I got out of college I was waiting tables professionally [and] couldn't afford to go the theater [every] night. I think those great movies can actually make you feel a certain way. Not only emotionally, but if you're in this business, it's one of those things where you see someone do something that good and it buys you a year of energy. That's what I was really looking for. It sounds so cliché,[but I wanted] to bask in the glow some of these amazing performances, like [those of] Dustin Hoffman and Marlon Brando. But it was also fun. To get back to what I was saying before, that 1970s raw energy, it's almost frustrating now that people aren't making more movies like that because people won't go see them.

Even Away We Go is, in a way, a tribute to the 1970s movies, too, but more of the Hal Ashby thing. Again, I don't think people are making movies like this, so for Sam to do it is incredibly cool. And the fact that my name's on the poster is totally surreal.

On the Waterfront (1954, 100% Tomatometer)
On the WaterfrontThat movie for me was my Marlon Brando experience before The Godfather, before Streetcar. It's weird to be living in a modern world where acting has changed. Movies have changed so much, and yet you can still see what defined [Brando] and his performance. If I told you that so-and-so was the first person to do something 30 years ago, you'd be like, "Well, I don't care, because people do it now all the time." There's still nobody doing what he does in that movie. And so that really changed everything for me. Also, there was something really exciting and sad about the whole political aspect of that movie. The whole blacklisting thing.

The Godfather (1972, 100% Tomatometer)
The GodfatherOnly because it's everybody's number one choice. I kinda feel, in this day and age -- not to be sounding bad in any way -- we live in a culture where something's good, and some people will say it's awesome, and they may not have even seen it or they didn't like it. But they want to agree with the cultural zeitgeist. I feel like that movie has stood up to time [and] criticism, and yet everybody can find the exact same reasons as to why it's awesome. I mean, it's so well-written. It's a slow movie that you're still riveted by. It's [got] character development unlike anything I've ever seen before. And of course, the performances are wild.

Did you use any particular scenes from these movies for your performance in Away We Go?

No. When we were shooting in Connecticut, I stayed in New York a bunch of the time, and I had all those DVDs there. I did watch Kramer vs. Kramer again for no particular reason, because [Away We Go's] not about a dysfunctional relationship. Again, just to get into that particular mindset. I don't know, it's like when you see something in the theater that just blows you away, it moves you in a different way for a couple of days. I remember when I saw Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I wanted to go out and direct a movie right there on the streets of Manhattan. Unfortunately, you can't without permits. Or so they tell me. [Laughs] But that's the thing; if you see some magic show on television, you're like, "I'm gonna go buy a deck of cards!" Whoa, just settle down there, guy. So that's basically what I do with these movies. I try to see that to just push me to think I wanna rush in and do the scene the next day.

Catch John Krasinski's Away We Go in theaters this week. For more Five Favorite Films, visit our archive.


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