Having won the hearts of America as the lovable Jim Halpert on The Office, John Krasinski was once considered for the major role of Captain America in Marvel’s blossoming cinematic world. It wasn’t meant to be, but Krasinski is now showing the MCU what they’re missing. Newly ripped, the affable leading man has turned action star, fantastically fronting Michael Bay’s spectacle-packed movie (is there any other kind?), 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.
This mesmerizing action movie is based on the account of the men who survived it. Krasinski stars as Jack Da Silva, a former military man working for the CIA as a private security contractor. Da Silva signed on for 60 days of duty, not knowing what hell one night would bring when militants in Libya attacked an understaffed temporary diplomatic outpost, threatening the life of the U.S. ambassador and putting a target on the back of every American in Benghazi.
Screen Rant traveled to Miami to meet with Krasinski in person to discuss this harrowing true story, the responsibility of bringing it to the big screen, and what he’d say to Marvel if they came back begging.
This is a completely different role from what people are expecting from The Office. Was that part of the draw for you?
John Krasinski: Probably. I mean not really the main draw. It’s something that…it may be an ancillary benefit, but I actually came from a huge military family. So I have aunts, and uncles, and cousins who have served and are currently serving. So I’ve always wanted to do something like this. And this story in particular was so important because, I have to admit, I was the one who was embarrassed to say I didn’t know anything about it. And I think a lot of people are going to be feeling that way, because I thought I knew everything there was to know about Benghazi. I watch the news. I read the newspapers.
So when I read the book and hadn’t heard anything about it this, it was shocking. And I think that there’s something wrong there that everybody believes, or most people believe, that the story of Benghazi is political, and that this is actually what happened the night of.
So, for me there was an emotional connection there. Yeah, so that’s why I did the movie. But I love when people say it’s very surprising to see me in the role. I take it as a compliment. But for me it’s not about comedy or drama. It’s about where is the good story?
Yeah. I also feel like you guys have done a smart move where, like, the Men’s Health cover really kinda defined…
John Krasinski: Yeah, yeah. Change!
Yeah, because you don’t know. I feel like the people at Marvel are probably being like, “Awwww….”
John Krasinski: “We missed him!”
He could have been our Captain America!
John Krasinski: Yes. But I’ll be like dark Captain America or something. In YouTube videos.
So if MCU comes back and is like, “So, John, you and Emily busy?”
John Krasinski: Yeah. Let’s do it. That’d be great!
What was the most difficult part of shooting this film?
John Krasinski: It’s interesting. Everybody says was it getting in shape or was it the action scenes? To me it was the responsibility of knowing that we were telling this true story, the responsibility of getting it right. It actually weighed heavily on us every single day because not only were a lot of the real guys on set with us, so they were there to watch you if you screwed it up, but for me personally, the highest priority was getting meet the real Jack Silva, the guy I play. And he was gracious enough to let me meet him and was so generous. Within five minutes of knowing him just said, “Ask me anything, because we really need this story to be told, but we need it to be told right.”
Right there he placed the responsibility in our hands to do it right. So that’s how we felt the whole time.
Well, especially because he has declined to be a part of the movie’s promotional process. So, basically, you are being entrusted almost entirely with representing him. So that must have been really intense.
John Krasinski: It’s huge, yeah. And not only from the military standpoint about what they went through that night, but also to represent him as a man. I got to know his family. I got to know his kids. I saw what an incredible husband and father he was. That’s also what I wanted to portray there. There’s a lot of facets to it that, yeah, I will be the only representation that people have of him. Yeah, it’s a lot of pressure. I hope I did it justice.
I think so. I was really blown away…
John Krasinski: Oh, great.
Watching it I felt like I was in that place. Which, yeah, it’s informative and terrifying, frankly. I’m curious, was there like a day on set that was the most…what was kind of the most complicated day on set for you?
John Krasinski: Probably the consulate being on fire, when we walked into that fire. I certainly have never done anything like that. That building was legitimately on fire. And so, it’s a trust level that you had with Michael and with Badge that we were all going to do this and we were all going to do it safely, but it’s real fire. So, complicated I think because I had never expected that, in my life, I would walk into a burning building. So that was pretty crazy.
Yeah. That’s not something they go over with you in acting school.
John Krasinski: [laughs] Exactly. Yeah, “This is how to go into a burning building. Don’t get burned.”
Yeah, right? “Here’s the technique: don’t die in a fire.”
John Krasinski: Right, right. [laughs]
[James Badge Dale] actually said that the scene on top of the roof with you and he discussing kind of that downtime in between scenes was what really drew him to the script. Was that a moment to you that was particularly of interest?
John Krasinski: 100%. It’s actually what connected me most to the movie, because, obviously, like I said, I didn’t know the story. And I think I’m one of many. What it was, was hearing about a guy who is talking about his kids. and having just had a child myself, she was about 1 when we went to go shoot, I could connect immediately to a man who was conflicted about whether or not to go into battle and to go into these high risk situations at the risk of losing himself and leaving his family alone.
So those became extremely powerful scenes for me. also, I think those are the scenes, and I’m sure Badge agrees, those are the scenes that give the movie the heart that it needs, not from a storytelling perspective, but actually from telling these guys’ perspective. Because one of the best things about the movie for me is these guys aren’t superheroes. And that’s what’s so special about them. They are not superpower. Bullets don’t bounce off of them. They are normal people just like you and me who have chosen to dedicate themselves, who choose to lay their lives on the line, every single time they go into something like this, for us. That’s what makes them extraordinary. And so, to show both sides of it, that they are incredibly heroic but also incredibly sensitive people who have families, that’s the beauty of what we need to get out there.
From director Michael Bay, “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” is the gripping true story of six elite ex-military operators assigned to protect the CIA who fought back against overwhelming odds when terrorists attacked a U.S. diplomatic compound on September 11, 2012. When everything went wrong, six men had the courage to do what was right. Based on the nonfiction book “13 Hours” by New York Times bestselling author Mitchell Zuckoff and Members of the Annex Security Team.
The film stars James Badge Dale, John Krasinski, Max Martini, Pablo Schreiber, Toby Stephens, Dominic Fumusa, Matt Letscher, and David Denman.
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi opens in theaters January 15, 2016