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article imageJohn Krasinski poignantly closes the door to 'The Office' Special

By Earl Dittman     May 10, 2013 in Entertainment
After nine seasons on the hit sitcom, Krasinski admits he is filled with mixed emotions about leaving the series that turned him into a household name. The funny and gracious actor talks about the end of the iconic comedy series.
It was nearly a decade ago, when John Krasinski, a young, unknown actor – and former waiter – began portraying the sardonic but lovable Jim Halpert on the American version of the British television hit The Office. Along with Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, Jenna Fischer, B. J. Novak and Ed Helms, Krasinski would help to propel the comedy into a phenomenally successful sitcom the world over. It would also turn most its cast members into overnight stars and household names – including Krasinski. Now, after nine seasons on the air, John is preparing to big adieu to the character of Jim and his professional family of cast mates on The Office as the series finale draws near.
"It is such a emotional time for me, right now – one hundred percent – and I know you're trying to get tears out of me, but I'm saving my tears for Barbara Walters," John says jokingly, to ease his sadness over the conclusion of The Office. "I don't think there's any way to describe how it feels to leave The Office after so long. I would imagine, it's like a long time back, in the olden days, it's like you had to leave your family behind. You know, whether it was moving somewhere else or going to war or something like that – it's hard.
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"It's a life-changing event and there's just no way to describe it," the always charming and affable actor emphasizes. "It's not like ending college. It's a part of your life that defined you, and to have it go away is so incredibly bittersweet. I think the only thing that helped us all is that we're so proud of the work, and that we're so proud that we got to have a series finale. That's a very rare thing these days. Growing up, I remember the Cheers and M*A*S*H finales. I remember them being very, very important. So, for us to be on a show that even got there is incredible. I think that we're just all so proud of the work. That's, I think, the only thing that prevented the entire cast from just having a complete meltdown."
Steve Carell and John Krasinski on  The Office
Steve Carell and John Krasinski on 'The Office'
NBC
Krasinski is used to emotion-filled goodbyes. When Steve Carell left The Office after Season Seven, John was a mess. "Before we filmed our last scenes together, Emily (Blunt, his actress wife) kept saying, 'You better start planning now for the Kleenex. You know that you'll never hold it together," John confesses. "When Steve left the show it was like getting blindsided by a bus. I kinda thought it was going to be tough. Everyone was crying and I was like, 'Guys, it's just life. He's moving on.' I was acting like it was no big deal. Then, the last shot is my character saying goodbye to Steve's character. The director called, 'Action,' and I started wailing from a place I had never been to emotionally. Spontaneously, I walked up and gave him a huge hug. It was these two grown men holding each other in an emotional breakdown," Krasinski laughingly recalls.
Although there are countless reasons, the 33-year-old, Newton, Massachusetts-born actor explains he remained a cast member of The Office primarily because of the way the writers of the hit show allowed his character, Jim Halpert, to evolve throughout nine seasons. "The thing what I always loved about the show is how real they kept it," John offers. "I would go anywhere those writers sent me. They put me on top of a boat to say 'I love you' to a girl for the first time. They've taken such good care of my character. Also, to me, Jim was the window for the audience into this office that everyone could watch what was happening. They needed someone to tell them that it was okay to laugh at everything, and to see everything as a little bit ridiculous. To me, that was so much fun to play."
For fans of The Office, the longtime, blissful relationship between Jim (Krasinski) and Pam (Fischer) has hit a few rough patches in Season Nine. The normally loving couple have begun to experience marital problems. Krasinski explains that Jim and Pam's turbulent times are a testament to the show's authenticity. "As I mentioned, my favorite thing about the show has always been how – especially with the Jim and Pam story – how real the writers have always been to their relationship. Sure, there have been some incredibly blissful times, but, there's also times where the world around them can stall out and feel like it's not enough or that it is enough, or feel bland or more exciting from time-to-time.
John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer star as Jim and Pam on  The Office
John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer star as Jim and Pam on 'The Office'
NBC
"So, my whole pitch to (executive producer) Greg Daniels was, 'We've done so much with Jim and Pam, and now after marriage and kids there was a bit of a lull there for them about what they wanted to do,'" John continues. "Actually, the idea of Jim's ambition was always one of my favorite things from the early seasons. It seemed like between Australia and trying to being the boss at corporate and NYC contributed to their problems. I think that all those things, for me, were really exciting, because Jim always felt like there was something that he could be doing more of. I wanted to explore that. Actually, the idea of Jim going to another city came from my brother. In his work, at the beginning of his job, he was traveling a lot all over the country for all his different clients, and it was definitely a strain on the family in a very new way. Obviously, not a strain that was as dramatic as what we did on the show, but it was a thing where sort of seemingly simple things like basic spending time with your children and in the same city was becoming more and more difficult, and putting a strain on mentally."
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Krasinski was extremely interested in delving into the effects would have on Jim and Pam's normally concrete union. "For me, it was, 'Can you have this perfect relationship go through a split and keep it the same?' which of course, you can't," he declares. "I said to Greg, 'It would be really interesting to see how that split will affect two people that you know so well.' I think the exciting thing was to know that the audience would sort of take a guess at what Jim would do and what Pam would do. So, to run those numbers on this relationship was really, really interesting to me. Rather than introducing an affair or something like that, Greg and the writers decided to really explore a whole new facet of their relationship. They've never gone the easy route. They've always gone the very realistic route, and I've always really, really admired that."
While John is hesitant about giving away any of the finale's surprises, he's confident ardent followers of The Office will be happy with the way Jim and Pam's relationship is resolved. "I think fans will be happy with the way things turn out, but I don't want to spoil anything by saying too much," he stresses. "I mean, we do want them to be happy. Greg told me, 'We have to give the audience something, as far as trying to see light at the end of the tunnel. I don't think it necessarily answers all the questions as to how they'll solve it. As always with Jim and Pam, there's a romantic hope that everything will be okay at the end of that episode."
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John credits viewer interest – in all the relationships that have been explored throughout the near-decade run of The Office – with the series remaining on the air. "I can honestly say we owe the success of the series to the fans, because our show is so fan-driven in such a specific way, as evidenced by iTunes," he admits. "I mean, I think that when we first came out the only reason, in my opinion, that we made it past the first few seasons pickups is because people actually decided they liked the show so much. It was such a small group at the beginning, but they would pay money to see the show, rather than just wait for it on Tuesday or Thursday, whatever time it was back then. So, we owe everything to the fans."
Loving his character as much as he does, when queried on what the loss of playing Jim is meaning to him now that filming on The Office has wrapped, John is momentary flummoxed. “Wow, I don’t know, because there's so much to miss,” he answers candidly. “Look, I was a waiter before this show, so what I miss most about this character is way too complexly entwined in my real life. To me, The Office was a winning lottery ticket, except with a winning lottery ticket where you don’t get money, but you also get a whole change of your life. Everything about my life has changed and become better, and I feel so lucky to be where I am.
“So, it's hard to separate the two, because I'm so sort of meshed in the experience,” he admits. “But for sure – I don't know if this a good answer or a bad answer – but I will say I think the thing I'll miss most is playing a character that people believe in him so much and attach themselves to Jim in various degrees. There are some people who think they are Jim. There's some people who are looking for a Jim. I think, to me, and I know to Jenna, playing the Jim/Pam relationship and realizing how important it became to so many people was such an incredible honor. For me, there was a small part of my brain that really didn't want to let anyone down every single week. But, that was actually really exciting. I felt like I was given a tremendous responsibility. Honestly, I will really miss that responsibility, because it's just so much fun to play a character that people are watching and rooting for and loving. So, I really appreciate that.”
John Krasinki  Jenna Fischer and Rainn Wilson on  The Office
John Krasinki, Jenna Fischer and Rainn Wilson on 'The Office'
NBC
Krasinski’s ability to bring Jim Halpert to life for so many television viewers across the globe caught the attention of Hollywood early on. During his hiatuses from The Office, John would star in such critically-acclaimed films as Leatherheads, License To Wed, Nobody Walks and Something Borrowed. Last year, he co-wrote and co-starred in the Gus Van Sant-directed Promised Land – with Matt Damon. "Getting to do Promised Land was an such an incredible experience for me," John reveals. "Promised Land is another big milestone in my career.
“But, I wouldn’t have ever gotten to that point of being able to do Promised Land, though, without The Office. I mean, I was an unknown before I got the part on show. I was a struggling actor and a waiter. I have to say that I definitely had fun being a waiter," John remembers fondly. "I can't say for sure that I was a good waiter. I think that I made people have a good time. I probably couldn't tell you what was in any of the plates I was serving, so probably not great for the house. I think I was a lot like any other actor in New York, I had credits because, I'd work lunches during the week, and then on a Wednesday I would be lucky enough to be in a movie like Kinsey. I’d go shoot for a day and come back. So, it was one of those things where I definitely was lucky enough to have a few jobs and few commercials. But, it was not anything that would allow me to claim that I was a working actor and didn't need another job. The Office defined me, as an actor. This show gave me everything, which would be the biggest understatement ever. I mean every single opportunity has come from this show, and people who have watched this show and have given me a chance because of it.”
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While Krasinski confesses he maintains incredibly confusing, mixed emotions about the ending of The Office, ultimately, his time on the sitcom instilled in him a fearlessness to attempt all the things he wants to accomplish in the entertainment industry. “Every sort of creative impulse and desire of trying new things and wanting to experiment with new mediums and writing and things like that, has all come from the show because of the enthusiasm I have for it,” John confesses. “Instead of being some sort of soul crushing job, it was the exact opposite. It was a job that made you just feel like a super hero, and that you were in the one family that's never loved a child more. show. So, while it's been incredibly hard to leave, at the same time, I know in my heart that it's given me everything that I have and has defined me, and hopefully given me every single strength and talent that I have to go on and do other things. I will always use that as a touchstone going forward.”
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Ultimately, did Krasinski have an emotional breakdown on the final day of shooting the two-hour finale? “That’s hard to say, because before it happened, I thought I might black out and have a nosebleed – but I didn’t,” he says with a laugh. “We chose a random theme where everyone's exiting the office for the last shot that we ever did, and I'm so glad we did. It was a very sort of mundane walking out of the office. It wasn't big and dramatic or anything, and I think it was at the beginning of the show or something, so it's not like it's the last shot.
“While we were shooting that day, we were all joking around. I was – as per usual – crying/laughing as we exited. I'm a cryer-laugher, which is a bummer. I was crying/laughing with Craig, and we were all joking around and waiting in the hall every time we exited. Then, one of the times we came back, instead of saying, ‘Going again,’ Greg randomly appeared and just said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, that's the end of The Office.’ I mean, even talking about it now, it was like a gut punch.”
Krasinski pauses for a moment to collect his composure. “I guess I won’t be able to save the tears for Barbara Walters, after all, because it’s too tough not to tear-up over something you’ve loved so much for so long,” he poignantly confesses. “But, all good things must end, and I’m just glad we are doing it our way. I couldn’t be more happy for that. It was a great roller coaster ride, but now it’s time to get off. I just hope everyone else had as much fun as I did.”
The Office one-hour series finale – it’s 200th episode – will air on Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 9:00p.m. EST/8:00CST (Check local listings).
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Universal
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Lionsgate
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CBS/Paramount
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BBC
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Warner Bros
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