John Krasinski, the American actor famously known for his role Jim Halpert from The Office, is finally breaking out of his character at Dunder-Mifflin. The nine seasons of Jim’s antics with Dwight, romance with Pam and daily struggles with boss Michael, came to a close in 2013, and Krasinski has officially said goodbye.
Acting since 2000 in supporting roles in TV and in smaller film, Krasinski has been in countless shows and movies like The Holiday and It’s Complicated. He is also involved in the independent film industry by starring, producing and directing films like Nobody Walks, The Prophet, Smiley Face and The Hollars. All of his work in Hollywood has gone under the radar until his “breakout” film in the industry: 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.
The Michael Bay film starred Krasinski as Jack Silva, navy seal. Before the exhibition of 13 Hours, Krasinski had to transform his body for the character and change his performance from Jim. While Krasinski has proved himself a more versatile actor, audiences have kept him attached to Jim, thus limiting him from access to other roles in Hollywood.
Many other white, average males have become huge names in Hollywood – Chris Pratt is the most common comparison to Krasinski these days. On paper both men are very similar, so why has John Krasinski struggled to breakout of Jim from The Office and Chris Pratt is now considered Oscar-worthy? Lets find out.
Both white, average males on sitcoms.
Both John Krasinski and Chris Pratt began their sitcom careers in an office. Both Pratt and Krasinski carried the average body (by hegemonic standards) and both were comedic relief in the show. Both starred in a weekly televised comedy where audiences connected their names with their characters. Until recently, no one had heard of them as anything but Jim Halpert or Andy Dwyer.
Both were typecast in their characters.
Typing is a method of people categorizing groups of people to make sense of the world. We do this in our day-to-day life, to our friends and acquaintances, but we also type stars. Typing turns to typecasting, in the context of the film industry, and Krasinski has been typecast as the “nice-guy.”
“The character of Jim doesn’t really bleed ‘I will take you out of this bar and we will go to the nicest hotel and have a night that you won’t forget!’ He plays more like [shrugs], ‘I wear a messenger bag. And my hair’s weird. I’m your buddy.’ Not very threatening.”
– Krasinski, interview with Entertainment Weekly
Jim is known for his ordinariness. He has an office job and a somewhat stable relationship, and a goofy laugh. He’s normal nice guy.
In Hollywood, the “nice-guy” type is seen as a more feminine, sensitive version of masculinity. It plays into the dichotomy within masculinity: hyper-masculine womanizer vs. the sensitive pansy. The “womanizer” is the more masculine man, while the sensitive man is more of a feminine role. Historically females and feminine roles have been portrayed as less complex and simplistic. Wearing a messenger bad, having messy hair and being your buddy all plays into the opposite of the “womanizer.” While there is nothing inherently wrong with being a nice, sensitive, desk-job guy, the “nice-guy” type doesn’t allow Krasinski to explore other types of characters and show his versatility as an actor. Although fans love his ordinariness (seen through articles like “34 Times John Krasinski Was The Most Perfect Man Alive”;
but some dislike him for it as well) there is much more to Krasinski than Jim.
Similar to Krasinski, Pratt was typecast as the “bad-boyfriend.”
“Typically, I was getting typecast as the bad boyfriend. The boyfriend of the girl who you hope ends up with the guy you like. That was my bread and butter for a long time.”
– Pratt, interview with Daily Actor
In Parks & Rec, Pratt was typecast as the “bad-boyfriend” type – one that is an asshole to the girlfriend everyone wants. However, what differs between them is Pratt has shied away from his typecast through other roles in Moneyball and Zero Dark Thirty. Krasinski, on the other hand, has been stuck in The Office character despite his many other films during and after the series. (1)
Both of their first films into Hollywood were american war hero movies.
Krasinski’s 13 Hours was his first lead in a Hollywood blockbuster. Although Pratt is known for Guardians and Jurassic World, his first transformative role in a major film was Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty – another American war movie that critiqued the government. I think there is something to be said about their first large films being patriotic military films and both men had to completely transform their lifestyles to fit the physicality of their characters. Both were complete opposites to their old characters’ office life.
Both changed their physique to the hegemonic, desirable male body.
Out of shape and ready to lift, both had to drastically change their body image for hyper-masculine roles.
Both mens’ change in their build caught Hollywood and audience attention since they were placed on “Men’s Health” Magazine. Interestingly though, Pratt’s Instagram post on his muscular body almost broke the internet – as fans were fascinated at the former Parks & Rec star’s new bod. The circulation of his selfie invites audiences into the private sphere of Pratt’s world, where the staged Men’s Health magazine does not.
Krasinski gained much attention for his change in body; however, it was not the same in comparison to Pratt’s 104K likes on Instagram and countless gossip articles.
“Now the hilarious high jinks of putting all of Dwight’s belongings in Jell-O seem worlds away from his new role in “13 Hours,” where he plays ex-Navy SEAL Jack Silva, complete with newfound biceps, triceps, glutes, abs and any other muscle you can think of. Jim Halpert couldn’t hurt a fly, but now he’s equipped to take on an army.” (2)
Krasinski’s transformation in one way did help him break away from Jim Halpert, but in other ways, audiences are still bringing him back to Dunder-Miflin.
Both had been discredited from being anything but Jim or Andy.
Pratt was rejected from Avatar and Star Trek because he didn’t have the “It” factor. But, now he is nothing but the ‘It’ factor. Guardians director James Gunn “admitted he originally said ‘no way’ to the “Parks and Recreation” actor. Somebody first suggested him to me, I thought, you got to be kidding me. This chubby guy from ‘Parks and Rec’?” Gunn said. “There’s no way I’m going to make that guy the star of my movie.” But he added, “I knew within 20 seconds of his audition this is absolutely the guy. And the truth is, Chris Pratt is the biggest movie star in the world. It’s just people don’t know it yet.” (3)
Krasinski auditioned for the role of Steve Rogers in Marvel’s Captain America. Although he was a top contender, the role eventually went to Chris Evans.
“I think many have a tough time buying Krasinski outside of his character’s trademark attributes and goofy facial expressions from the hit NBC series The Office and like me, have difficulty picturing him leading Iron Man and Thor into battle.”
– Rob Keyes, ScreenRant on Krasinski
The discourse around Pratt is much different than Krasinski despite the fact that they are very similar by Hollywood standards. While the decision on not picking Krasinski has been swept under the rug, there has been speculation on why ‘Jim’ didn’t turn into ‘Steve Rogers.’ The theory is that fans of Captain America weren’t keen on having “Jim from The Office” lead anyone into battle.
“There’s no dartboard, but if they want me to play a villain that will fight Chris [Evans], I’m totally game.”
– John Krasinski on playing a villain.
Most recently, Krasinski has been cast as the 5th Jack Ryan for a new Jack Ryan series on Amazon. Entertainment media consistently believes that Krasinski was chosen for this role because of his 13 Hours hyper-masculine character Jack Silva.
“John Krasinski has abs. You can give him bigger roles now”
– Shelbie Lynn Bosted on Krasinski’s transformations.
Like Bosted said, Krasinki’s change in physical appearance should lead him to bigger roles and arguably enough – it did.
It may look like Krasinski is following in the footsteps of Pratt, but here are some reasons why the two have moved from TV to film a bit differently.
Jim Halpert is more popular of than Andy Dwyer.
Parks & Rec had seven seasons while The Office had nine. Krasinski had much screen time, especially after Carell departed from the series.
Andy Dwyer was originally a guest character, but turned into a main character later in the series. Dwyer is one the main characters but never takes on a lead role like Leslie Knope or Ron Swanson. The Office’s plot line largely focuses on Jim’s character and his relationship with Pam (Jenna Fischer).
Guardians and Jurassic World had a fanbase before Pratt joined the cast.
While his first Hollywood role in Zero Dark Thirty could be considered his breakout role, Pratt became a household name from Guardians and Jurassic. Krasinski gained his household name from The Office (obviously, or my point would have no basis).
Both ZDT and 13 Hours were controversial during the time of their releases; however Pratt escaped much of the controversy and his career wasn’t affected as because he held a supporting role. Krasinski, on the other hand, was one of the stars of the film and was pitted in the middle of political controversy surrounding it.
13 Hours held a poor exposition at the box-office of $52+ million (domestically)—compared to ZDT’s $95+ million (domestically). (You can find my analysis on 13 Hours here). Lower box-office results in turn results in less people watching Krasinski as someone other than Jim. A very small demographic saw 13 Hours and they probably aren’t the audience calling him Jim anyway.
To follow, both of Pratt’s Guardians and Jurassic World did phenomenal at the box-office (Guardians making $333+ million domestically and Jurassic making $652+ million domestically). Could Pratt’s popularity be because both films already had a large nostalgic audience of comic book readers and fans of the Jurassic Park series? Those audiences are global. Preexisting literary source material of both Marvel and Jurassic Park cast long shadows that Pratt has exploited to become the most popular and loved actor in 2014.
There is also something to be said about how Michael Bay films and Marvel films are perceived differently by audiences. While Marvel is seen as a very popular universe of superhero movies – they are generally liked by most audiences. Michael Bay, on the other hand, is continually critiqued by the industry and audiences alike.
Interesting fact: Bay was set to direct Zero Dark Thirty but was discouraged to do so by a undisclosed government agency. (4) Would ZTD have gone under the radar as much if it would have been directed by Bay?
Overall I think Krasinski’s breakout role is 13 Hours set him up at a much slower transition into Hollywood than Pratt’s literal sky-rocket into Hollywood as Star-Lord Peter Quill.
But, Krasinski hasn’t given up on his attempt to transition to more hyper-masculine action roles in the industry.
Krasinski’s next gigs: Jack Ryan and God Particle.
After hitting Hollywood, Krasinski is heading back to television for the time being in his upcoming Amazon series of Jack Ryan. The news was announced earlier this month that Krasinski was chosen to be the 5th Jack Ryan character in a new series by (director). Industry leaders are saying that Krasinski’s masculine role in 13 Hours helped him become a legitimate candidate for the role. His transition from “nice-guy” to action hero is becoming more apparent to audiences.
“John Krasinski was, for a while, best known as the lovable Jim Halpert on The Office. Lately though, Krasinski 2.0 has been rebranded as an action star…And now that he’s teamed with Bay to star in Amazon’s Jack Ryan series, Krasinski is literally no more Mr. Nice Guy.”
– Devon Ivie on Krasinski’s new role.
Ivie brings light to Krasinski’s transition from the “nice-guy” to the hyper-masculine action hero. His roles as Jack Silva, navy seal in 13 Hours, is a nice transition from the sensitive man to the hyper-masculine hero because Silva is both a family man but tough and gritty, running past bombs, at the same time. His new role as Jack Ryan may be another hyper-masculine role that will legitimate himself as an action star even further. He has also been cast as one of the astronauts in Julius Onah’s God Particle (a J.J. Abrams production) set to be in theaters early next year. (5)
Pratt’s steps into Hollywood’s eye give a potential ‘how-to’ for Krasinski and other average-white male stars trying to make a name for themselves. But, will Krasinski successfully get to be where Pratt is today? The way Pratt transformed from Andy Dwyer to Star-Lord is “a good sign for Krasinski and his six pack…[he is] well on his way to being a legit action hero, with the doors to the world of explosions and gunfire opening wide to welcome him. It might not exactly be a guarantee of critical acclaim, but it’s potentially a way to box-office success for Krasinski and the future action-packed roles he might land.” (6)
Overall I think Krasinski has proved to audiences and Hollywood what he is capable of performing. Now it’s time for audiences to believe that John Krasinski is much more than Jim Halpert from Scranton, Pennsylvania.