John Krasinski and Mandy Moore discuss what it was like being under the watchful eye of Robin Williams
Robin Williams, Mandy Moore and John Krasinski star in the new comedy License to Wed.
Newly engaged, Ben Murphy (John Krasinski) and Sadie Jones (Mandy Moore) can't wait to start their life together and live happily ever after. The problem is that Sadie's family church, St. Augustine's, is run by Reverend Frank (Robin Williams), who won't bless Ben and Sadie's union until they pass his patented, foolproof marriage prep course. Consisting of outrageous classes, outlandish homework assignments and some outright invasion of privacy, Reverend Frank's rigorous curriculum puts Ben and Sadie's relationship to the test.
Forget happily ever after -- do they even have what it takes to make it to the altar?
John and Mandy recently sat down with us in Santa Monica to discuss his role in the film. Here is that conversation:
This movie has you two engaged and ready to get married. You're both single in real life. Have you ever been engaged and what do you think of the institution of marriage?
John Krasinski: Good Morning! It is morning, right?
Mandy Moore: We're just jumping right in!
John Krasinski: I usually save these answers for my Barbara Walters special but she didn't call so I have never been engaged, despite popular belief. I have people printing that I have. Never been engaged. As far as what I think of marriage, I think it's great. I think I'd like to be married some day but I'll start with love. Why don't we try falling in love first and then I'll see what happens after that. I think the one thing about this movie that was really interesting was finding out how much is really involved in that. I know I'm guilty of it and I think a lot of people are guilty of sort of getting starry-eyed with love and sort of looking over the bad things and keep going and in that same vein you don't really prepare for how much work marriage really is. When I look at my parents I'm like "This is easy. Staying together for 35 years? How hard is that?" They're like "Very hard. You should know the ins and outs." So it was nice to see a little bit of background. Mandy?
Mandy Moore: Wow, that was such a thorough answer. I've never been engaged. I definitely believe in the institution of marriage but I'm 23 so it's not something that is in the forefront of my mind right now.
You started your career as a singer, Mandy and you John as a writer and you are finding success as actors. How do you feel about acting vs. what you originally intended?
Mandy Moore: For me, I feel like they go hand-in-hand. I feel lucky to do a little bit of both and that people have been accepting of me in both roles. I don't ever feel overwhelmed by it. I feel like anybody else who has a lot on their plate. It's about prioritizing. I feel like they are such different creative entities and being on stage and getting to perform in front of an audience and that rush of adrenalin and that connection with an audience is very, very different from making a film and the teamwork aspect of everything. So, I just feel lucky and fulfilled differently by doing a little bit of both.
John Krasinski: I think it's about doing things that you are excited about. I don't think I ever planned on being an actor and I definitely didn't plan on being a writer either. I planned on being an English teacher and I don't know where that is but I think that it's really fun to have an outlet. For me, it's really just an outlet, writing and putting together this movie was a passion project for sure but really nothing more than that because I'm not trying to be the triple threat guy. I'm still working on this one threat, acting, but it's easy to be intimidated by somebody who does music, to me, because working with Mandy and having her developing the album as we went was incredible to watch. I was very envious because doing that and also doing music, that is very different from what you [Mandy] did before, I wish I could do something as cool as that. So, we'll see if it happens in the movies but I doubt it.
You were working on your album?
Mandy Moore: I was writing, yeah. I was writing definitely while we were doing it.
John Krasinski: I was playing guitar.
Mandy Moore: We were collaborating.
John Krasinski: I was on the keys sometimes but the trailer doesn't fit a whole piano.
What would you say is the secret to a good relationship?
John Krasinski: I'd say the key to a good relationship is probably communication which I think, at the end of the day, our characters didn't have for a really long time in the movie, bringing it full circle. I always think about the simplest things in a relationship that have frustrated me. It always sort of comes down to communication. Even something as simple as the worst possible thing that can happen [which] is "Where do you want to go to dinner?" "I dunno." "Well where do you want to go to dinner?" "I dunno." That might be the worst thing in the world. So being honest... Not the worst thing in the world. Don't write that down.
Mandy Moore: They're typing.
John Krasinski: Worst thing in the world? John is completely out of it. Good luck, ladies. He's a freak!
Mandy Moore: Yeah. I think communication is key too. You're answering all the questions. Thank you. I'll just sit back here.
Mandy, is there anything else besides communication?
Mandy Moore: That's important? Hygiene? I don't know. Communication is key.
John Krasinski: You just became the freak.
Mandy Moore: I took over that role?
John Krasinski: Yeah.
Is there anything from your personal experience that you brought to this role?
Mandy Moore: I'm slightly controlling. I'm an Aries and I like things to have an order and I get slightly distressed and flustered if things go awry but I think Sadie kind of skipped a couple of steps in terms of calling off the marriage. I feel there were a couple of things that could have been worked out before calling it quits.
John Krasinski: A slight negotiation would have been nice.
Mandy Moore: Exactly, but I related to the ambitious, sort of controlling streak she had in her.
John Krasinski: What did I relate to in my character? I don't know. I think he's a pretty laid back guy and I definitely would have had the idea to like "go to the Caribbean and get married" and so I would have been taken aback probably if somebody had said 'I want to get married here with this sort of regimented thing'. It wouldn't have derailed me but it would have been definitely a surprise. I think I'm spontaneous and not as controlling. Sort of willing for things to go whatever way they go so we were perfect for each other.
How was working with Robin Williams in this and did either of you have a Robin moment?
Mandy Moore: Robin, he's pretty dynamic. I had a lot of fun but I also felt like there was no onus on me to be funny. I think I enjoyed witnessing John and Robin play off each other really well, even just joking around in between takes and stuff. I just got to stand back with the crew and be entertained and watch the show in front of me. I think I found it really difficult though to keep a straight face when we were actually working and I wasn't supposed to be laughing. I was always the first one to break. I'll admit it. I couldn't keep a straight face.
John Krasinski: Really? I don't know if that's true.
Mandy Moore: I did. I did.
John Krasinski: Great. Well, I'll let you have that.
Mandy Moore: I was unprofessional.
John Krasinski: Perfect. Yeah, working with Robin Williams, what can you say? He's the best of the best. What I really liked watching was, not only is he incredible funny, probably the funniest person on Earth which is a tough award to give out, but to see what it really takes to be a huge star is way beyond a good partner 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 because, if he's there committing and not complaining, there is nothing you can say about it. You have to do as good a work. So that was really fun to see and I definitely learned a lot from him.
Mandy, can you compare and contrast doing music and acting? Do you flex the same muscles?
Mandy Moore: I think you're flexing the same muscles doing the music stuff and the film stuff. You are trying to convey your emotions in lyrics across to an audience when you've written a song three years ago and it doesn't really hit you the same anymore. There's a little acting in that and obviously, when you're relaxing or trying to get in character, sometimes you'll listen to music. They do go hand-in-hand.
When you were a little girl, did you have a fantasy about what kind of wedding you'd want some day?
John Krasinski: You wanted a fake wedding.
Mandy Moore: I wanted a fake wedding in Jamaica. No! In terms of the fantasy wedding thing, I can kind of cross off the island beach thing. Maybe at sunset or something but we were shooting during the heat of the day and it was unbelievably hot and humid and sticky and just yuk, no fun. As a little girl I thought yes, I'd like to get married on the beach. But I'm not the quintessential girl who had these sort of fantasies about that stuff.
John, didn't you work with Conan O'Brien?
John Krasinski: Yeah. I was his intern. That, I think, I can attribute as one of the most surreal experiences and there's been a lot of them but that was one of the most surreal things, to be his intern. In 1999 when I was in college, pretty much watching his show was my life. That was the best part of my day and then to go back as a guest, I think I blacked out for like 35 seconds. I don't remember much from the curtain to the seat but he reassured me that everything would be fine and so to now have him say that he's a fan of my show, it just doesn't make any sense. I don't think I'll ever compute that.
How do you compare Robin's style to his or Carell's or yours?
John Krasinski: I'm equally as funny. I'm as talented as Conan O'Brien... no. I don't know how you match, they're just so dynamic and specific. To me, with Robin and Conan and Steve too, their willingness to go all the way with a joke and commit and find the humor in everything and keep it real -- I mean that is what's really fun about all those guys. Even Conan with how ridiculous he is, he's still that guy that you knew in high school. His realness is what makes him so funny because you can totally relate to him.
Mandy Moore: Yeah, but don't be modest because you keep up with them. That's why it's so much fun watching you and Robin together because...
John Krasinski: I taught him improv. We had improv classes and I was like "No!." It was fun. There was one moment in re-shoots where I get hit by a baseball in the face and it was funny because I could see him looking at me like "Alright, let's see what he does with this." Because I think people have been hit in the face before. And I did a couple of takes and he laughed every time and you can hear on film him laughing. I'm pretty sure they dubbed that out but he said later, "Wow, that's one of the funniest things I've seen on film" and he walked away and I had a nosebleed and passed out for five days because that was like the best compliment I've ever gotten. I was like "What? You think I'm funny?" It was really exciting. It was fun to work with him. But I'm in no way as funny as they are.
Do you still keep in touch with Conan?
John Krasinski: Yeah.. You're wearing a Red Sox hat. Thank God. Now I feel like I'm home.
I saw you on Conan and you addressed something incredibly important to the city of Los Angeles, the lack of Dunkin' Donuts.
John Krasinski: Yes!
So what are you willing to do to get it out here?
John Krasinski: I'm willing to be CEO of that company. Let's do this! I'll expand. I want to buy jets that say "Dunkin' Donuts" and we're just going to go all over the place. What am I willing to do? I've actually e-mailed the CEO. No, I did. I emailed him and I even told him a perfect location, where they shut down Tower Records on both sides of the street. Come on! Have a little drive through and a sit-down, talk to people across the way.
Did they contact you based on that?
John Krasinski: They did contact me and I have bags and bags and bags of coffee to prove it.
Mandy Moore: So, that's what it takes to get free Dunkin' Donuts coffee? Okay.
John Krasinski: Yup, or you can say "I like Porsches" and they send you a lot. Basically, what happened is I told them I would love to get together with a bunch of people and I've talked to a lot of people about it and it's looking like now, all for naught but I have been going around to people and saying "Hey, would you open a Dunkin' Donuts with me?" Ben Affleck and Conan O'Brien and Steve, all these people want to come and open a Dunkin' Donuts in L.A. and in his e-mail he was like "That's great!" Okay, sounds good I guess. I guess it's coming. I don't know. I'm trying to do it. My entrepreneur skills as far as starting a huge company are not very good so far.
What was it like working with the two robo-babies in this film? They were pretty creepy. Were they heavy?
Mandy Moore: They were like fifteen pounds each, right?
John Krasinski: I think more than that. I was carrying them the whole time. They were really heavy but they smelled so bad!
Mandy Moore: Really bad!
John Krasinski: Ooooh, God.
Mandy Moore: I can't even begin to describe it.
John Krasinski: It felt like a locker room made of rubber. It was really gross. It was disgusting.
Mandy Moore: Sweaty rubber, yuk, gross.
John Krasinski: It definitely went against that old saying "all babies are cute." Having James Cagney as a baby is not my ideal dream. It was fun to work with them because they were so hideous and really hard to hold and all that so it really made those scenes a lot easier to do, especially smashing it against the glass. I was happy to do that.
Speaking of babies, how many kids do each of you want to have?
John Krasinski: Seventeen.
Mandy Moore: I haven't thought about that too much.
John Krasinski: Two? Isn't that a good answer? One in each hand.
Mandy, you said four in the movie.
Mandy Moore: No, not four.
John Krasinski: Two or seventeen. She's got a choice.
You two seem to get along well. Anything happen between you on set?
Mandy Moore: No.
John Krasinski: Oh my God, are you having a baby? If you want to announce it, announce it here.
Robin said here that he wanted to work with you.
John Krasinski: He just did. We did a movie together. He forgets so quickly.
Ken Kwapis compared you to Jimmy Stewart or a young Gary Cooper. How do you stay grounded with all the hype?
John Krasinski: I hadn't heard the Gary Cooper thing so I'm not grounded now. I feel pretty good. That's incredibly nice. When I met Robin at the read-through, I remember when he came in, I was so nervous meeting him for the first time is incredible because I did actually write him a letter when I was a kid, and told him he was my favorite actor. The first time I ever cried in a movie was in "Dead Poet's Society" and I had my fingers like this, like windshield wipers and I was like "What is going on?" And he wrote back and he was "it" for me. So getting to meet him and hearing that he liked my work is totally unbelievable. That's just something that I can't compute. You can't take a compliment like that. It doesn't make any sense. As far as Ken Kwapis saying all those things, I think he just really wanted me in the movie so he probably told Warner Brothers, "Don't worry, Jimmy Stewart? Gary Cooper? Who else do you like?" If they'd said they were huge Chris Farley fans, he's like "He can do that too. He's a huge physical comedian." But no, that's really nice to hear. As for staying grounded, I've got a great family and honestly I attribute a lot of it to that. Really, what makes this fun, because it's always surreal and exciting, but what makes it really fun is having special people to share it with and my family's the best so to call and say "I'm in a movie with Robin Williams" and they're like "That's ridiculous." And I'm like "Good, as long as you think that too" because as soon as you say "I deserve this," it's over.
Aren't they on the East Coast?
John Krasinski: They are on the East Coast, another reason why I stay grounded. When you're from the East Coast, they tend to keep you grounded. Boston is one of those places as I'm sure you know.
Can you talk about upcoming projects. In particular I'm interested in "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men." Are you a huge David Foster Wallace fan?
John Krasinski: I am in that everything he writes is pretty much the best stuff I've read so that makes me a fan I guess. I don't understand all of it. I try. I got through "Infinite Jest" with three bottles of Advil. I mean I was extremely lucky to get this project. It was one of those things that I worked on in college. A friend of mine asked me to do a stage reading of that book and I was just completely blown away because, at that point, I was like "acting's having fun with your friends and making people laugh." Not the case. And then you do something that makes you actually feel important and that's a big moment. It's a big thing to feel like you're doing something that's actually affecting people so I fell in love with the book and I've always wanted to do something with it and then fought to get the rights which was pretty fun and an incredible experience in itself, and then writing and directing just sort of fell into my lap. We were looking to collaborate with someone on both those fronts and it ended up just being me so, at this point, it's the epitome of a passion project and I just hope people like it and you being a fan terrifies me because I'm sure you know the book so well. I hope I did a good enough job. I'll finish editing this summer and then, I don't know, maybe some festivals.
John Krasinski: Sure, that would be great. Are you saying that I'm in? Oh my God! That's huge.
Are you still doing Leatherheads?
John Krasinski: We just finished like three weeks ago.
How was it working with George Clooney?
John Krasinski: That was okay. One of these days I'll work with a good director. No, it was incredible. You can make jokes but he's everything that anyone's ever said about him. To be that big of a star and that grounded and that classy, I'm mean he was a true mentor for me and, as a director, he's incredible. He knows exactly what he wants and so he knows that you've done a good job before you do so after three takes, he's like "We got it" and I'm still thinking "I'm just getting used to this. I shouldn't have done it in a Russian accent." No he's great. He's a good guy.
Mandy, what's in your future?
Mandy Moore: I have a record coming out on Tuesday.
John Krasinski: No big deal. In the business we say it's "dropping" on Tuesday.
You wrote more of the songs on this than you usually do?
Mandy Moore: Yeah, I co-wrote the whole record.
Is there a theme?
Mandy Moore: It's just sort of what my life has been for the last two, two and a half years. I was adamant about writing and being a part of the creative process and I kind of stood my ground and left two record labels to make this record exactly what I wanted it to be and working with the caliber of people that I got to. I'm a huge singer/songwriter fan and a fan of independent music and I got to collaborate with a lot of my favorite artists and a fantastic producer and so it's something personally that is really exciting for me and that I feel invested in and I'm excited that people can finally hear it. It's called "Wild Hope."
John Krasinski: And my blog had the exclusive. I got to break it.
Are you going on tour, Mandy?
Mandy Moore:Y es. I'm going on tour at the end of this summer.
Can you talk about your chemistry together? Did you have any embarrassing moments while shooting?
John Krasinski: It wasn't my first kiss but when you have to kiss someone... I think doing a movie about getting married, for me I was extremely nervous because you need a partner that's really willing to go there and be silly. It was also fun because we were really getting to know each other as our characters were really getting to know each other. I think that's the real premise of the movie. You never really know someone until things go badly for you. So it was fun to get to know Mandy in all these tests and I can say that working with someone that has so much more experience than you do and yet is still extremely invigorated and youthful and fun. I just took her lead as far as what I needed to do on set and just tried to make it okay. The kiss I tried to not make look terrible.
Mandy Moore: I think when you get along with someone, it's just natural and it comes across on screen and it's easy to have good chemistry. We appreciate each other and respect each other.
John Krasinski: It would have been bad to hate each other. Put it that way. That would have been upsetting.
What was your favorite scene to shoot? Which one was the most fun?
John Krasinski: I don't know about my favorite scene but the first scene that we shot was us breaking up, her leaving the church which I thought was pretty insane.
Mandy Moore: It was intense.
John Krasinski: From an acting perspective and from the movie perspective, that was really exciting to shoot this scene where all this stuff supposedly happens.
Mandy Moore: Before you've established anything.
John Krasinski: Yeah. "Hi, Mandy. I'm John and you're about to break up with me." 'That was basically how it happened. That was really exciting and a fun way to go about it.
Mandy Moore: I liked all the stuff we shot in Jamaica. It was fun to travel.
John Krasinski :You're spoiled.
Mandy Moore: It was fun. The experience making this movie was such a blast, like a little family, a summer camp experience. Being able to go away was definitely exciting too.
The Office has a really big following and I wanted to know what your view was, John, on the fan base of the relationship between Pam and Jim. You have such a big following on the internet. How do you feel about that?
John Krasinski: It's incredible. It's slightly overwhelming because you don't think that anything you do....having anybody enjoy what you do is such a treat and so 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. I love that people are watching just because it's fun to have people watching but our fans are so dedicated, so smart and so cool for the most part. We don't have these fans that overwhelm you if they see you on the street. They're like "love the show," or "what an idiot. You should have said something to her last week." I'm like "I know." Keeping it real is the key and I don't know how they've done that week after week and kept the relationship. I think the key is that everybody can sort of empathize with it. It's that long lost love and we can all empathize. My favorite scene on the show is on the booze cruise when I finally get the moment to talk to her and tell her and I react exactly how I would react by saying nothing. I would have nothing to say in that situation. So like these strings, violins coming in and having some amazing speech, it just didn't happen for me.
Have you gotten any reaction regarding the season finale?
John Krasinski: Yeah. They've all been great which is really awesome. We were really nervous about it because last year was a pretty huge moment, really fun to shoot, and then this year was very circumstantial. So, if you were a fan of the show, I think this finale would make more sense to you and you'd love it more because you know that that moment's been coming for a while so the sort of anti-ending was really brave to do, for the writers, not for us. It was pretty easy to just get the script and do it. But, yeah it was really nice. We're extremely lucky.
Did you do any acting when you were in school at all?
John Krasinski: The first acting thing I ever did was my senior year I decided not to play a sport in the Spring and, in that Spring B.J. Novak who went to school with me, asked if I'd be in this show that was a parody of all the teachers in the school, "Sure!" That was the first acting thing I did. He offered me the lead which I'm pretty sure he was insane for doing. We knew each other but we didn't know each other long enough for him to cast me in anything. He was like "I just think you're right for this role." I was like "What does that mean?" So that was my introduction to acting, other than doing Daddy Warbucks in sixth grade which was smashing.
Did it come easy though, that time in high school?
John Krasinski: Yeah, because it was so much fun. I think that's the same principal working on "The Office" or working on this movie. It's like when you've got a good script and something that's fun to do and a premise that everybody can be a part of and get into, it's so easy, because if you're having fun, it really shows. That's really the key and I had a blast on this.
Mandy, what keeps you grounded because we hear about young celebrities getting in trouble all the time?
Mandy Moore: I think I have a similar answer to John. It's a testament to my family; the way that I was raised. I don't like to pat myself on the back or anything but I feel like innately, it's just who I am. I don't like to subscribe to the crazy party lifestyle. It's just not who I am. I'm a little boring and lazy. I take my jobs seriously but at the end of the day, I just want to go home and live a simple, quiet life I guess.
Is it hard to do that?
Mandy Moore: No. It's just my choice. It's what I'm choosing to do.
But looking back when you're 15 or 16 or 17, that's a whole different thing than being a college graduate out in the world and facing the craziness of show business. To do it when you're a teenager like that, don't you think in a way that what you managed to do was kind of remarkable?
Mandy Moore: No, not really. I don't feel like I'm an anomaly. I feel just like any other regular person who's had a fantastic opportunity to do all of this.
John Krasinski: I think we all feel like you're an anomaly. I was shocked.
Mandy Moore: It's the most asked question right now and I'm like "Why do I feel weird about just living my life in a very normal way?"
John Krasinski: Think about how I feel being a young girl in Hollywood.
Robin Williams steps into the room for a minute...
John Krasinski: Oh no!
Robin Williams: I just want to say I picked that dress.
John Krasinski: Pucci?
Robin Williams: Very Pucci. I'm glad you pronounced that right. Say it wrong and you get a room full of pissed off women. You'll have to go out the side way. We talked, right?
John Krasinski: We did.
Robin Williams: I say that in a way that I can as a designer and as someone who appreciates you [talking to Mandy]. Don't you go to rehab because I don't want to be there. You'll be coming out the revolving door saying "I'm having a birthday party sponsored by Stolichnaya." If you go to jail, I'm going to be your pen pal [loud laughter]. I'm not going to be your bitch, that's crazy! [talking to John] You have that job!
Robin leave the room...
Who do you go to for romantic advice?
Mandy Moore: I would probably go to my best girlfriends, sure.
John Krasinski: I go right to The View.They get it right.
Do you listen to your friends or give them advice?
Mandy Moore: Yeah, absolutely. It's a reciprocal relationship, sure.
What were your expectations of each other?
John Krasinski: I do think that she's an anomaly. I was so impressed at the way she carried herself. Not in a bad way but I think I was expecting something totally different. I don't know what I was expecting but I think when you read on paper what the stats are that she's been doing this for so long and been successful for so long and beloved by everybody for so long, you sort of expect that to go to someone's head. I know it will mine as soon as I get reviews like that. But, the fact that she was so grounded and so intelligent, you wouldn't know that she's missed anything throughout her life and I'm sure she's missed so many big moments and sacrificed for her career and you wouldn't know it for a moment. She was just extremely fun to have around and I loved it. It was great.
Mandy, do you feel that you've sacrificed things for your career?
Mandy Moore: Yeah, sure. I didn't have the normal, average high school experience and the social aspect of high school or going to college but I don't feel bad because of it. I may have missed out on stuff but it doesn't really bother me. I just know the life that I've led and I kind of believe, everything for a reason and this is just the path I'm supposed to take.
John Krasinski: We're going to do Spring weekend in Jamaica. Let's do it.
Mandy Moore: Spring break.
John Krasinski: Let's catch you up.
John, have you had a chance to check in with Jenna after her accident?
John Krasinski: I have, yeah. I was shooting the movie when it happened so I was unfortunately busy, but we talked a little bit. Then, when I got to New York as soon as we wrapped, I went to visit her at the hotel. It's kind of crazy how well she's doing for what happened. When I was sitting talking to her, I forgot that she broke her back. You hear those words and you're like "Oh, man. She won't walk for years" and here she is up and walking around with a huge smile on her face. I definitely wouldn't take it as well.
This movie seems to take on the cultural baggage we have about marriage. As members of the next generation, what are your feelings about the institution of marriage?
Mandy Moore: Wow, that's a serious question for right at the end. Nothing fluffy? I like the fluffy questions. I think I'm still sort of figuring out what my definition of marriage really is. I'm 23 years old and it's not something that is at the forefront of my mind right now.
John Krasinski: I'm 27. I think this is a time when I'm still figuring out how to do all this myself so I'd say that what we were getting to about communication and all that, especially with all these debates on who can get married and why. It's just so funny to me because, at the end of the day, marriage shouldn't be the next logical step. It shouldn't be something that everybody has to do. It should be something that's really romantic and just comes out of being happy with someone. I feel like anybody can do that. As the next generation I'd say it would be great if we could all find someone that actually made us happy and if marriage is the next step, that's fine.
License to Wed opens in theaters on July 4th.