LOS ANGELES–In the late '80s, around the time he played Daddy Warbucks in Grade 6, nine-year-old John Krasinski wrote a fan letter to Robin Williams to tell him he was his favourite actor. Williams wrote back. Neither one of them could have divined that 18 years later they would be exchanging cantankerous repartee in the romantic comedy License to Wed . The film chronicles the communication glitches experienced by the newly engaged Ben (Krasinski) during unorthodox premarital-counselling sessions advocated by his controlling fiancée (songbird Mandy Moore) and taught by Reverend Frank (Williams). During a press conference to promote the film, it's clear that the opportunity to work with his childhood idol blew Krasinski's mind.
"What can you say? He's the best of the best," said the lanky actor known for playing the gooey Jim Halpert in the American version of The Office .
"To see what it really takes to be a huge star is way beyond a good part or being extremely funny. It goes into being an incredibly classy person and bringing such an enthusiasm to the set where it makes everyone around you do the best they can. That was really fun to see, and I definitely learned a lot from him."
But Krasinski, who interned for Conan O'Brien while at college and graduated from Brown University with plans to be an English teacher, almost didn't get the opportunity to study Williams so closely. Director Ken Kwapis (who also helmed the pilot for The Office and populates License to Wed with others from that show) told reporters that the studio was initially reluctant to cast the actor–who Kwapis said reminds him of Jimmy Stewart and Gary Cooper–because Krasinski possessed no leading-man experience. The reviews are not yet in on his starring turn in License to Wed , which opens in Vancouver next Friday (July 6), but regardless, The Office 's JAM (Jim and Pam) fan base is a fiercely loyal following, something Krasinski describes as incredible.
"I mean, it's slightly overwhelming.”¦Having anybody enjoy what you do is such a treat. I know I've said this a hundred times, but we owe it all to our writers. We have the best writers in the business. And I love that people are watching.”¦Our fans are so dedicated and so smart and so cool, for the most part. If they see you in the street, they're like, 'Love the show.' Or, 'What an idiot. You should have said something to her last week.' And I'm like, 'I know.' I think the key is that everybody can sort of, like, empathize with it."
Krasinki will return to Pam et al. when The Office starts shooting later this summer. In the meantime, he has wrapped shooting on George Clooney's romantic football comedy, Leatherheads , and he is editing the film Brief Interviews With Hideous Men , which he stars in, wrote, and directed.
As for how he stays grounded in the comedic whirl of such high-profile names as Clooney, Carell, Williams, and O'Brien, Krasinski points to his family.
"To call and say, you know, 'Um, I'm in a movie with Robin Williams.' Then they're like, 'That's ridiculous.' And I'm like, ''Kay, good. As long as you think that too.' 'Cause I think as soon as you say, 'I deserve this,' it's over."