In the modern horror thriller A Quiet Place, a family of four must navigate their lives in silence after mysterious creatures that hunt by sound threatens their survival. If they hear you, they hunt you.
When John Krasinski first read an early draft of the script for A Quiet Place by screenwriting duo Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, the terrifying premise hit home especially hard. Krasinski’s wife, Emily Blunt, had just given birth to their second daughter and he was already spending his nights in the whispering quietude and anxiety of new parenthood.
Early on, Krasinski gave his wife Emily Blunt his draft of the script for A Quiet Place. As soon as she read it, she suggested that they play the roles of Lee and Evelyn Abbott together, adding a layer of stark realism and candid tenderness that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.
“What I fell in love with in the screenplay is that I felt it touched on some of my deepest fears as a mother of not being able to protect your children. The stakes are so sky-high in this story I was racing to read to the end,” recalls Blunt. “Ironically, before I read the script, I had suggested to John that a friend of mine might be right for the role of Evelyn. But as I read, I thought, ‘never mind that, I need to play this role.’ I just loved the depth and beauty of the story, which goes beyond the horror movie atmosphere. And John and I have never worked together so that was exciting.”
Krasinski was thrilled by his wife’s reaction, but also a little daunted by the prospect of their very first professional partnership of the film. “We were about to live through our biggest fears as parents together on-screen, which is a bit crazy,” he admits.
Yet, even though it was what Krasinski describes as “a very intense experience,” both found it to be a revelation. “Working with my wife will go down as probably the best time I’ve ever had in my career,” says Krasinski. “We usually keep our careers completely separate, but we’re each other’s biggest fans. We have our own process and we weren’t sure how they would intermingle, but it turned out to be absolutely the most fun I’ve had. Emily is a tremendous and sensitive actress, and it’s been amazing for me to work so closely with someone I admire so much.”
Once it was agreed that Blunt would play Evelyn, she and Krasinski couldn’t stop talking about the Abbott family — about who Lee and Evelyn were before everything changed and how the catastrophic times they were facing has changed them.
“It’s a very weighty world but they try to stay focused on raising their family together,” emphasizes Blunt. “They are constantly afraid. And they’re also a family dealing with a lot of grief and guilt. What I find fascinating is that there’s such an urgent need for them to communicate, yet communicating is so hard in a word where any sound is dangerous.”
It definitely felt risky for Blunt to conjure up so many high-anxiety emotions while raising her own two young children, but it also gave her precious insight into Evelyn. She understood why Lee and Evelyn don’t need words to reach one another at this time when everything else is in doubt.” The timing meant John and I were able to approach these roles with great vulnerability,” says Blunt. “We talked a lot about the distinct roles Lee and Evelyn have in the family. Lee is the one who feels responsible for their survival, no matter what it takes. But Evelyn wants to do more than survive: she wants to teach her kids to thrive in this.
She continues: “With Lee, you have someone who just very, very old school kind of guy, which I don’t think John is necessarily. John’s much more open than Lee. Lee is the kind of man who shuts down emotionally, who turns his focus towards the need to protect and provide rather than dealing with his anguish. He’s a character who is in pain, but that is true of each of the four characters. Each is trying to overcome something, which makes it even more intense as they try to stay alive.”
As for Evelyn, Blunt wanted to explore her as a kind of unwavering maternal force. “I see her as just spectacularly loving and nurturing,” Blunt describes. “She has this drive to make sure she still raises good children. So she perseveres with school lessons, with making jokes with her kids in any way she can, with loving them and holding them, sometimes just drinking them in, yet wanting then also to have the room to become who they are.”
Krasinski notes that long before Blunt came abroad, he couldn’t help but think of his wife while writing the character who tried to hold her family together, facing the unknown with such grit and grace. “When you are writing something as intimate as a family going through the scariest time in their lives, the only person I could think of was of course Emily. But I always felt if she wanted to play Evelyn, it had to happen organically. So I didn’t ever say anything to her about taking the role, even if I quietly hoped that she might come to it on her own.”
It was also a leap into the great unknown for Blunt and Krasinski, taking on these roles having never worked together professionally before. Both found that it only strengthened their bond.
“I felt so valued by John creatively,” sums up Blunt. “I’ve always felt valued as his wife and mother of his kids, but this was about discovering that we could be on the same creative page. We were definitely nervous about it and it was a bit scary, but it turned out to be amazing.”
A Quiet Place will release in theaters on April 6th.