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Krasinski '02 tells students of life in "The Office"

Web Update posted April 29
On Saturday afternoon, John Krasinski '02 of NBC's Emmy-winning comedy "The Office" faced a crowd that filled List 120 and spilled into the aisles, the List lobby and even the outdoor terrace.

It wasn't Krasinski's first time on that stage. As a Brown student, he often performed in List as a member of the sketch comedy group Out of Bounds.

Krasinski told The Herald he remembered feeling "terrified" before performing his first and favorite Out of Bounds sketch, called "Titani," which was about a young boy who loved to reenact the sinking of the Titanic.

But yesterday, after a screening of an episode of "The Office" in which Krasinski's character pretends to be a vampire, Krasinski was more than comfortable taking the podium. As students enthusiastically applauded and several squealed in excitement, Krasinski greeted them with a wave and a smile.

"It's so weird to be back," Krasinski told the audience. He spoke briefly about the episode - which he said represented the show's attempt to "make something that's just a little bit different" - and then fielded questions from attendees.

One student asked what Krasinski remembered from his time at Brown. Krasinski recalled living in Wayland House and making friends with the Sharpe Refectory staff. Theater performances often prevented him from experiencing a full Spring Weekend, but Krasinski said he always enjoyed Dave Binder's concert.

"My parents are here, so don't say anything bad," Krasinski said when a student asked him to elaborate.

Calling his years at Brown an "explosive time," Krasinski stressed how important Out of Bounds was for him as a performer. Krasinski told The Herald he felt self-conscious auditioning for the group because the veteran members sported "edgy" clothing, and he was wearing a baseball cap. But once he began performing with them, he developed the confidence that would later lead to his success.

"I really did have the whole coming-of-age experience here," Krasinski told the crowd. Aside from Out of Bounds, Krasinski performed in many plays, including an adaptation of David Foster Wallace's "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men."

"It was the most important thing I did at Brown acting-wise," Krasinski said. After graduating, he struggled to get the movie rights to Wallace's text and eventually succeeded by flying to Los Angeles and arguing his case in person. Krasinski's film adaptation of the story, which he directed and starred in, is currently in post-production.

But Krasinski's career did not take off immediately after he left Brown. After studying for a semester at the O'Neill National Theater Institute, Krasinski moved to New York City and worked short-term jobs as a waiter or bartender, auditioning for acting jobs on the side.

In 2004, Krasinski's manager got him an audition for the role of Jim Halpert on "The Office," and after a series of auditions and screen tests in New York and Los Angeles, Krasinski nailed the part.

Krasinski, who said he was fan of the British show "The Office," recalled his initial on-screen chemistry with Rainn Wilson, who plays the wacky, neurotic Dwight Schrute to Krasinski's "normal guy" character Jim.

"It's really like doing theater every day," Krasinski said of working on the show, explaining that "The Office" set does not have a typical "network-y" atmosphere.

Though the show's writers, including Krasinski's co-star and high school friend B.J. Novak, encourage collaboration, Krasinski said he is usually content to "sit back in awe" of their talent.

Currently, Krasinski is filming "Leatherheads," a football movie set in the 1920s, working with a particularly well-known Hollywood talent - George Clooney, who is directing and starring in the movie.

"I promised myself one day I'd work for someone good, but for now I'll settle for him," Krasinski joked. Working with Clooney and co-star Renee Zellweger is "incredible," Krasinski said, but he admitted that working with such big names is "still a little bit surreal."

"I still pinch myself in the morning when I wake up," Krasinski said. Also surreal, he said, was being listed by "People" magazine in its "Sexiest Men Alive 2006" issue. Krasinki's budding star appeal showed after the lecture as students surrounded him on the stage, asking for hugs and autographs.

"I don't know how you go about being a sex symbol," Krasinski said. "But I'm doing everything I can."


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