John Krasinski pulls double duty in ‘The Hollars’ as director and actor

There’s a certain kind of authenticity one experiences while sitting down with John Krasinski.

The actor turned director is earnest and genuine to a fault, which co-star Margo Martindale attributed to the environment created by Krasinski on set.

“He’s a dream, and that’s really who he is,” she says. “It’s not an act. It was seamless from director to actor, and the environment was very protected.”

It’s that same quality that exists in their film “The Hollars,” which sees Krasinski pulling double duty as a director and actor.

Focusing on the fabric of family, “The Hollars” out Aug. 26, tells a story of what happens when a man on the precipice of a life transition returns to his hometown to take care of his ailing mother, and all the loose strings he left behind.

amNewYork spoke with Krasinski about the film.

Did you have to get to a certain turning point in your life where you said, “I want to be a director?”

You know what’s funny? I’ve never been that actor who said, “And then one day I’ll direct.” I just really loved the opportunity when I got it on “The Office” to direct. I realized I was living a lottery ticket life by being on “The Office,” and my friends who love and do all the things I do, if they had the opportunity I had, they would do so much more with it, so I’m trying to do so much more with it.

Why did you say yes to this film?

I signed on to this as an actor six or seven years ago, and the financier couldn’t get it made and asked if I would buy the script outright. It’s a huge commitment and I said yes, only because I thought movies like this needed to be made again. In this day and age, you do want to go back to things as strong and simple as family. We’re all from a family, so I thought it was really important.

Like life, “The Hollars” is both funny and dramatic, and there’s not always a separation. How did you find the right tone?

For me, that was the biggest worry. We’ve all seen movies about families, but this is so real and goes back and forth between comedy and drama so well. [Screenwriter] Jim Strouse is a unique writer in that he can write these unique hairpins between emotion and comedy, and that’s how life really is. You don’t get to prepare for the bad or good times. It was easy for the actors to find tone because they were just following his words.

There seems to be certain parallels between this character and yourself. Your character John is about to be a father, and you were a new father. How did that affect the film?

To be honest, if I did this movie five months before I shot it, it would’ve been a completely different movie. My first daughter was 4½ months old when I started shooting, and to say that changed my approach to this movie would be the understatement of the year. It was a huge turn for me to really understand that responsibility. I’ve always wanted to be a father, so it wasn’t about being scared; it was about really investigating yourself. You ask yourself some big questions, like, “Are you a good enough person to be this beautiful thing’s father?“

Men in general take a completely different journey to fatherhood than women do with motherhood, which this film shows.

Absolutely! I noticed my wife was connected to the baby physically from day one, and the fathers are basically on the sidelines while the pregnancy is going on. When the baby comes, the baby is completely connected to the mother, so the father is really just there as a presence. There’s a lot of trying to figure out how you fit in and how you’re going to be important in this person’s life.

There’s a lot of people in this generation struggling to find out who they are, which the film pins down.

Thank you so much for saying that! I know that that is sort of where our generation is at because there’s also a lot of opportunity. There’s this idea of, “You don’t have to be in one job forever. If you don’t like that job, you can switch.” There’s this amorphous lifestyle that our generation has discovered, but I think it is hard. The thing that I love about that conversation is that the investigation is always happening. The earlier generations there didn’t have the support to ask those questions. Hopefully we’re becoming smarter and intimate thinkers.

You’ll be playing the title role in the new Amazon series “Jack Ryan.” TV has shifted so much since you last left.

It has! When I got pitched the “Jack Ryan” series, the showrunner said to me, “It’s not a television show, it’s a long-form movie,” and I thought that was semantics, and he said, “No, if you tell a movie in 10 parts and it’s a mini series, the truth is you actually get to do the books more justice.” Crushing that character into two hours may not serve the books as well as long form storytelling. So I’m really excited to give this a shot and dive into this new form of storytelling.