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John Krasinski: 'I didn't want to play anything that seemed like Jim' from 'The Office'

Lori Galarreta/KPCC

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Actor John Krasinski played the role of Jim Halpert for all nine seasons of NBC's "The Office,"  It's the kind of part that can freeze an actor in people's minds, and not always in a good way.

But Krasinski has been busy since saying goodbye to that popular sitcom. For one, he's got a new film out. It's called "The Hollars" and he produced, directed and stars in it.

The film centers around a dysfunctional family that is forced to come together under tragic circumstances - the protagonist's mother has brain tumor. 

The Hollars Trailer

Krasinski dropped by earlier to talk to Take Two's A Martinez about the film, life after "The Office" and his signature "face acting."

The role of Jim Halpert and "The Office"

It's been three years since "The Office" bid farewell to its viewers, but the shadow of Jim Halpert continues to follow John Krasinski everywhere. So A Martinez started by asking, was the role a blessing or a curse?

"People ask me that all the time, 'Are you bummed that people see you as Jim Halpert?' and I said, not at all. In fact, it's a huge honor to be honest, I mean what that means is that you let me into your house, you let that show into your house, you cared that much about that character," said Krasinski.

"I think what it is for me, it's totally fine and I understand that. I've always been a realist about my career and I understand that people might see me as that," continued Krasinski, "I just think that as long as they're open to seeing me as other things then we're good, which they have been which has been really nice."

Personal re-branding after 'Jim' 

"I didn't rebrand but I definitely made decisions where I got to try new things. I think the only strategy I had was I didn't want to play anything that seemed like Jim. There was interest in me doing things like that. I think strategy can get you in trouble, I think doing what you believe in and what you love is the best way to go and certainly directing this movie was...this is pretty much the first big thing I did since 'The Office'...this was a big transitional phase for me."

Directing "The Hollars"

"The thing that I think is the magic trick of what Jim Strouse, this incredible writer wrote in his script and what we're trying to do in the movie is that some point this family onscreen stops being the family on screen and becomes the projection of your own family," said Krasinski, "I come from a very loving, tight-knit, communicative family, very different from this family and yet when I got done with this script I said 'Oh my God that's my family', there's something in there that I can relate to..."

In addition to loving the script, Krasinski also went on to explain why he thinks movies that center around family stories are necessary:

"You know it's funny, let's be honest, there's a lot of family movies out there and some of them are good, some of them aren't. For me, I had no intention of doing a family movie I had no intention of doing anything derivative and then I read this script by Jim Strouse and I thought, this isn't derivative, this is incredibly well-written. It's the most honest specific take of a family I've seen in a long time, certainly anything that I've read, it's very real. The nuance of it is very interesting and all the small tiny bits of storytelling...I hadn't seen in a script before."

"So I signed on as an actor about six or seven years ago and then four years later the financier at the time as happens with these smaller movies came to me and said, 'I can't get this movie made do you want to buy the script rights off me and you can make it on your own.' And I think I made some joke about, you made the wrong call I'm not George Clooney...thought about it for a second and then decided, I did want to take this on because I do think these movies aren't being made anymore. I think that  I grew up loving earnest, sincere movies about family like 'Terms of Endearment'...I hope people go see it because...not as the director or the actor...I hope everybody goes and sees it because I love these types of movies and I don't think they're being made anymore..."

The "Lip Sync Battle" and his signature "face acting"

Some may or may not know, that in addition to acting, directing and producing, John also created the hit show Lip Sync battle. He shared the story of how the show was created:

"Basically what happened was, Jimmy Fallon called, I was going to do his show the next week and that weekend my wife and I were away with our friends...I always had this idea we could like a '8 Mile' type battle but lip we started trying it out and I was  lipsync battling wife in the car and we were laughing hysterically..."

"We got to Jimmy, I did it, Jimmy thought it would be fun and I think the electricity in the room and how much fun we had doing it...Jimmy said 'This could be something big' and so he asked if I wanted to do a show and we took it to Spike and they've really run with this..."

If people don't know him for creating "Lip Sync Battle", they certainly know him for his signature "face acting," which his "Office" character Jim Halpert is known for. A Martinez asked him his method and if there was any practice involved:

"I don't work on it. I think that would be slightly psychopathic if I stood in the mirror and worked on my face acting. I know I'm a sensitive person, I'm a big cryer, I know that I have a lot of emotion that comes up very fast, but I think for me, I think that's a huge compliment, I don't even know what to say..."

Krasinski went on to gush about Denzel Washington's face acting in the movie "Philadelphia", "I'd never be able to do that, he acted so much emotion and so much specificity without doing anything."

A Martinez was encouraging, "I think you could, though."

"If you're asking if I will have a literal face-off with Denzel Washington, don't even get me started, I won't come close," said Krasinski, "He would destroy me, he's Denzel Washington."

Don't sell yourself short, John.

These answers were edited for clarity

To hear the full interview, click the blue play button above.