As paper-pushing prankster Jim Halpert on NBC’s Emmy-winning comedy The Office, now in its fourth season, John Krasinski won our hearts as he awkwardly romanced Pam the receptionist. Punching in for his first chat with gay media to promote his new football comedy Leatherheads — he thanked me afterward “for being so gentle” — the 28-year-old holiday Gap model opened up about costar George Clooney’s irresistible superpowers and his own sex-symbol status.
By Brandon Voss
The Advocate: So this is your first gay press interview?
John Krasinski: Wow, now that I think about, it is. There’s so much pressure! But I’m very excited.
Which burning question do you think the gays want answered?
Oh, my God. My imagination’s running wild.
Were you aware that you had a gay following?
Oh, is that why everyone in West Hollywood’s so nice? I thought they were just big Jim/Pam fans, but you’ve totally decoded it for me. No, I was not aware that I had a gay following, but I think it’s great. I mean, I live right in West Hollywood, so I’m constantly walking through the neighborhood, seeing how enthusiastic and extremely fun everybody is down there, so those are the fans to have behind you — the people who can make a party out of anything.
How did growing up Catholic in Newton, Mass., influence your views on homosexuality?
Luckily, I have two of the coolest parents around. They’re so open about having any and all experiences, so they never hindered us in any way by categorizing or judging anything. Having people be that open was actually incredibly wild, because I was always a little confused when I heard anybody have issues with anything like homosexuality. It was very foreign to me. But I probably never gave it too much thought until I went to Brown, where I had a whole lot of friends who were gay. They talked about the fantastic parts of it and the really difficult parts of it, and that’s when I fully realized the scope of the experience, rather than the classification of being gay as having some weird romantic idea.
Who’s the most important gay person in your life?
One of my acting teachers from Brown, who’s probably one of the most important people in my life, period. He was the guy who basically helped me transform from someone who just wanted to get a laugh, and who used humor as a way to distract people from being insecure in acting class. He really got me to face a lot of different stuff, like who I was and who I wanted to be.
How does it feel when, for example, gay blogger Perez Hilton tags a photo of you and pal Milo Ventimiglia at an L.A. Kings hockey game as a naked locker room scene short of one of his “fantasies come true”?
It’s sort of like when I was in People’s Sexiest [Men Alive issue in 2006]. It’s very hard to be comfortable thinking, Yes, that’s exactly what I deserve! But hearing anyone think that I’m any form of sexy or handsome is incredibly flattering.
Did you endure more teasing for People’s honor or for being on the cover of Men’s Health?
I got the most crap when people heard I was going to be on the cover of Men’s Health. I really got to see who my friends were, because they were like, “Wait, you’re on the cover of Men’s Health?” And I was like, “Whoa, easy with being so surprised!” But it was very nice in Men’s Health to hide behind vintage clothing.
Are you uncomfortable being thought of as a sex symbol?
I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable being considered a sex symbol, especially after you work with someone like George Clooney. When you walk down the street with him and everybody starts weeping out of joy, you’re like, Oh right, that’s a sex symbol!
Do you think the gay community will respond to Leatherheads with you and George — even after they realize that it’s not an S/M film?
It’s a very common mistake, and I understand that. It’s a fun movie, and with the whole football thing in the ’20s, I gotta say, I was totally enamored with the period pieces and all the costumes — and I’m usually so oblivious to all that stuff. And, I mean, how many times has George won People’s Sexiest Man? A ton.
Is George threatened by you nipping at his heels on the Sexiest list?
If he was nervous at all, beating me in basketball ended all that. He rightfully reclaimed the throne. For where he’s at, he’s probably the most deserving person in Hollywood. He’s just that charming, that cool, and that kind.
Sounds like someone has a dude-crush.
Wow. Well, I admire him so much, if I was ever going to have a dude-crush, it would be on George Clooney. I mean, I don’t think you can avoid it. It’s like a superpower — he just sucks anybody in around him.
In both Kinsey and Dreamgirls, what was it like working with out writer-director Bill Condon, who displays such a strong gay sensibility in his work?
It never came up in specifics, but I just love him and his sensibility to death. How calming and sweet he is was especially incredible for me since Kinsey was my first movie. I felt so well taken care of. I also feel like that sensitivity, not that it’s necessarily stereotypical, was vital in presenting such edgy material — in Kinsey, I mean. Not Dreamgirls. [Laughs] Dreamgirls isn’t that edgy.
But your brief Dreamgirls role must have given you a juicy Beyoncé story.
The juiciest Beyoncé story I have isn’t juicy at all. I was backstage at Saturday Night Live and she was standing next to Jay-Z, who is probably the person who can intimidate me the most. I’m so very rarely starstruck, and starstruck doesn’t even begin to describe it. Then she looked towards me, and I was sure that she would have no reason to remember who I was, and she was like, “Hey, how you doing? That was such a fun scene!” And that was one of those moments where I was like, That’s cool. That feels like I’ve made it. She was nice to completely BS her way through that moment.
You didn’t think you were on her radar?
No way. Who’s on Beyoncé’s radar? She’s from another planet. I feel like she’s the hardest-working person I’ve ever known. I don’t even know how she has time for us little people.
You also worked with Gregg Araki, a pioneer of the new queer cinema movement, on 2007’s marijuana comedy Smiley Face.
I finally realized what the word fabulous meant when I worked with Gregg. He’s so energetic and laughs a whole lot, which makes it a lot easier to do a scene in a shower when you’re incredibly uncomfortable.
Yes, thanks to that film, Googling you eventually yields screen caps of your character pleasuring himself.
Yep, that’s when you know you’ve arrived — and that’s why I did it.
If nothing else, did 2007’s License to Wed teach you the necessity for legalized gay marriage?
Is that what you took away from it? Amazing. Don’t ever have babies that ugly — that’s what I took away. I still have nightmares about those robotic babies. But it actually did teach me the amount of work that goes into being married, period. It’s such a commitment for anybody, gay or straight, and that level of love should allow anybody to get married.
Are there any gay characters in your upcoming directorial debut, Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, which you adapted from David Foster Wallace’s book — or are only straight men hideous?
Gosh, I would hate to exclude you guys from being hideous. The one interview where the actor, Will Forte, is portraying someone gay, he’s completely bald-faced lying about it. It’s pretty clear in the text of the book that it’s someone who’s trying to desperately claim that he’s not gay, so instead, the entire monologue is him going on and on about how much he loves women.
On The Office, how does Jim really feel about Oscar, Dunder Mifflin’s resident homo?
You know what’s funny — and I’ve joked with Oscar the actor about this a bunch — I feel like Oscar the character is the only person in the office, even more than Pam, who “gets it” just as much as Jim does, but he just keeps his mouth shut.
Let’s discuss Jim’s hair, because not since Friends’ Jennifer Aniston or Felicity’s Keri Russell has a character’s do proved so polarizing.
To be put on that pedestal is the biggest honor so far in my career, so thank you. There’s a magician behind it, Kim, and she should be charging 200 bucks a pop for the Farrah Fawcett for men.
If Jim were gay, who would be his type in the office?
By the laws of opposites, it would have to be Dwight. There would be some secret crush on Dwight for sure. Also, that would be the best fodder for the writers.
I’m not sure I’d want to see that.
Oh God, yeah, you’re right. But I don’t know who we’d want to see!
he Advocate, April 2008; extended online version.