Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

How John Krasinski Went From Waiting Tables To One Of Time's Most Influential People

From his skillful comedic timing to his unforgettable gestures and facial expressions, it's pretty easy to feel like John Krasinski was born for the silver screen. But of course, fame and fortune aren't the kind of things that you can order with a single click on Amazon Prime, especially in the often brutal, cutthroat world of Hollywood. They're earned with years of diligence, hard work, and self-improvement, with a few good connections tossed in for good measure.

No two success stories are ever the same, and Krasinski is no exception. It might seem like he's had ten careers in the last decade alone, and during that time his work ethic and endless creativity and passion have delivered a host of already classic entertainment in his wake. From his career as a rising actor to his many roles as a producer and a director, this Massachusetts native and Red Sox fan has had one of the busiest lives imaginable...and he's still just getting started. Let's take a look back at how his path to stardom began.

Krasinski and Novak: The Early Years

John Burke Krasinski was born in Newton, Massachusetts in 1979. Krasinski, who would grow up to be a whopping 6' 3" tall, was the runt of the family, coming in at a roughly half a foot shorter than his two older brothers. He attended Newton South High School, after which he took a brief hiatus to spend six months in Costa Rica working on his Spanish and teaching English. He also flashed a bit of his future action-hero persona when he saved a woman from drowning in a riptide.

Action hero moments aside, though, probably the most incredible coincidence of this early chapter in his pre-fame life came through his childhood friendship with his future co-star B.J. Novak. That's right, the two fellas actually went to the same school and even played little league together. And as if that wasn't enough, it was during their time in high school that Novak approached Krasinski (who up to that point had only acted as Daddy Warbucks in a middle school production of Annie) and coaxed him into acting in a stage play he was putting together. They were both pleasantly surprised when they independently found their way onto the set of The Office several years later.

The day jobs

When he got back from Costa Rica, Krasinski resumed his education with gusto. He kicked things off by attending Brown University, where he studied theater arts and graduated as a playwright. From there he went on to train at the National Theater Institute in Waterford, Connecticut, following that up with bouts spent studying at none other than the Royal Shakespeare Company in merry old England, as well as the Actors Center in New York City.

With this rather illustrious training behind him, Krasinski then set up shop in New York City, where he launched his acting career in earnest. Of course, this does not mean that his next role was as the enormously popular Jim Halpert. Not in the least. He started off, as so many actors do, by picking up work as a waiter and using that as a launching point to land a handful of smaller roles on television and some off-Broadway plays. He also landed a gig in 2000 as an intern on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, during which part of his job was literally to field many of Conan's jokes before he went on stage.

The audition

As we all know, Krasinski's big break was when he landed the role of Jim Halpert on the smash television series The Office. But, despite being a fan of the original British version of the show, he wasn't exactly sure what he was getting himself into. In fact, rather than set himself up for success, he managed to make things as hard as possible to land the role.

According to Krasinski himself, he was the last of seven people to audition. Just before his turn came, the casting director announced that they were going to take a lunch break, during which one of the team sat and began asking Krasinski how he felt about the impending interview. The actor played it off as if he wasn't too worried about his own performance, though he genuinely was concerned that the remake would ruin the British show's legacy if they didn't handle the American version correctly. After having thoroughly expressed his mistrust of the new show, his confidant revealed himself to be none other than Greg Daniels, the show's executive producer.

Things could have taken a very different turn after that, but as it turned out, the knowledge (known by both Krasinski and the entire casting crew) that he had already more or less "thrown the audition" created a relaxed atmosphere that facilitated Krasinski's performance. The next thing he knew, he was in L.A. reading lines with Jenna Fischer, and the rest was history.

The Office

Krasinski dove into his role on The Office in whatever way he could, acting, producing, and even directing some episodes as time went on. In his excitement over getting the part of Jim, he traveled to the show's real-life setting of Scranton, Pennsylvania, camcorder in hand. Upon his return, he offered his footage to Greg Daniels, thinking it might make helpful research material. To Krasinski's surprise, Daniels asked if they could use some of it in the show's opener. That's right, Krasinski had inadvertently helped film that iconic, piano-driven intro that we all love so dearly.

Another major factor that boosted Krasinski's career during his time on The Office was his on-screen chemistry with Jenna Fischer. The two played the love-struck Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly, who we all watched fall in love, hook up, get engaged (who couldn't forget that gas station proposal in the rain?), get married, and start a family. For nine years, the world seemed to live vicariously through the romantic adventures of Jim and Pam, which had the added benefit of cementing Krasinski's new identity as a rising star in the minds the show's numerous fans. The easily recognizable, lanky heartthrob with perpetually tousled hair wasn't going anywhere but up.

Side roles

While Krasinski's career absolutely blew up thanks to his years on The Office, Jim Halpert wasn't the only role that the ambitious young actor took on during his time at Dunder Mifflin Paper. Krasinski quickly began to pick up other acting gigs on the side. This not only continued to build his portfolio, but it brought him into close proximity with some major A-list Hollywood personalities in the process.

Among a host of other appearances, in 2007 Krasinski starred opposite Robin Williams and Mandy Moore in License to Wed. Two years later, he appeared on screen with Maya Rudolph as the two played the couple Burt and Verona in Sam Mendes' Away We Go. He also began to pop up as a narrator and actor in a variety of large-scale commercials for companies like Apple, Pepsi, and Carnival Cruise. And to top it all off, he came tantalizingly close to being cast as Captain America, but alas, Krasinski wielding that star-studded shield in a red, white, and blue superhero uniform is something we'll most likely never get to see.

Blunt love

It's no surprise that Krasinski's skill and charisma on screen helped him move easily into the cinema world. But while his career was obviously off to a very successful start, his personal life was by no means languishing in the shadows. When Krasinski met Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) in 2008, it was love at first sight, as Blunt later recalled.

When the two met in 2008, Krasinski was still a rather new face on the acting scene and only "blurrily familiar" to the already established veteran of the silver screen — who was also a big fan of the British Office, by the way. Their first encounter occurred at a restaurant, where they arrived separately with friends. A friend of Blunt's knew Krasinski, and when The Office star came over to say hi, he "just stood there and made [Blunt] laugh." The couple instantly hit it off, soon going on their first date was to a shooting range, and were engaged the following year. In 2010, they were married in a private ceremony in none other than George Clooney's personal house in Como, Italy. Um, jealous much?

Since then, the couple is still going strong together and have two daughters, Hazel and Violet. They have also worked together in their professional lives quite a bit, but we'll get into that a little later.

From the screen to the stage

The Office wrapped up in 2013, and Krasinski bid a fond farewell to the show that had launched his career. But, unlike so many other sitcom stars over the years, untethering from the initial source of his fame did not mean he was about to drift out to sea where a few small cameos and otherwise irrelevant roles would be his fate. The man was built to succeed. Even with the star power of The Office in the rear view mirror, everything he touched continued to turn to gold.

One interesting, off-beat thing he did in the aftermath of The Office was to jump off of the film set and onto the stage, starring in the off-Broadway production Dry Powder in 2016. The play was set in the world of high finance and dealt with current issues like income inequality. This wasn't a complete career change for Krasinski, though. It was just a quick detour — and a star-studded one at that. The play also cast Claire Danes and Hank Azaria in leading roles and was directed by Hamilton's Thomas Kail. When it wrapped up its run in May 2016, Krasinski put a stamp on his foray into stage acting and slipped right back into the Hollywood scene.

The action hero

Another major development in Krasinski's life as his time on The Office came to a close — did this guy ever slow down? — was a move towards the action scene. Whipping his famously tall and lanky frame into superhero shape, Krasinski flawlessly stepped into the world of blockbuster movies, and didn't feel out of place for a second.

In 2016, he played a lead role in 13 Hours, a film that traced the events of the 2012 attack on the U.S. Ambassador to Libya. Though that was a fairly good start, he quickly showed that he wasn't done with the new action star persona. Two years later, he produced and starred in the Amazon Prime original Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan, where he played the iconic terrorist-fighting analyst who had previously been portrayed by the likes of Chris Pine, Ben Affleck, Harrison Ford, and Alec Baldwin. Keeping this long history in mind, Krasinski and the show's producers set out to bring a fresh take to the character. With the newly-minted action star not even forty years old yet, who knows what other explosive performances are still in his future?

Producer and director

While Jim Halpert and his myriad of other acting gigs have defined our perception of the man, the other quite prolific side to Krasinski's career coin has been his work behind the camera. Remember, this guy has a degree as a playwright and studied at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Add to that his seemingly boundless energy and the fact that he seems to ooze creativity one hundred percent of the time and, hey presto, you get John Krasinski the producer and director.

Krasinski's first big project was 2009's Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, which he both produced and directed. After that, he was off to the races. While his directing repertoire is a bit scantier than the production end of things, he directed some of the later episodes of The Office as well as 2016's The Hollars.

When it comes to production, the list grows by leaps and bounds. Along with several episodes of The Office and all of the movies he's directed thus far, Krasinski has produced Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan and Adult Swim's Dream Corp, LLC. The enormously popular musical competition Lip Sync Battle, which began as a segment on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in 2013, was also developed by Krasinski's production company Sunday Night. As if all of that wasn't enough, Krasinski, along with Matt Damon, was one of the driving forces behind the idea for Manchester by the Sea, a film that won an Academy Award for best original screenplay.

An old-school thriller for the ages

Very recently, Krasinski's rising star achieved new levels of height from a genre that he had not significantly touched up to this point: horror. In 2018, Krasinski and Blunt finally teamed up for a full-blown movie project together when they produced, directed, and starred in the immensely successful thriller A Quiet Place. Though Krasinski was initially nervous about entering this unfamiliar territory, the flick was a phenomenon that electrified the audience without any need for the continual stream of flashy, raucous, gut-rending horror sequences that so many modern chillers rely on.

It was instantly a success on paper, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars and maintaining an impressive Rotten Tomatoes score. However, the movie had a second, subtler effect apart from successfully terrorizing its viewers with reticence and poise. Coming out the same year that Krasinski donned the action persona of Jack Ryan, the film marked a turning point in his career. 

Where people once saw nothing more than Jim Halpert, the world has officially come to see Krasinski as himself. He can truly claim to be one of the few actors out there that entered the scene as a nobody, became deeply associated with an iconic character from a cult television show, and then successfully shed that persona to move on to bigger and better things. While it may just look like another title on his already impressive list of filmography, A Quiet Place was a crossroads in Krasinski's multi-talented career.


There can be no doubt that John Krasinski has had a wild ride in his rise to stardom. He's transformed from a reluctant actor in B.J. Novak's high school play to a world-renowned celebrity with an exceedingly accomplished portfolio as an actor, producer, and director. And the best part is that he didn't just "hit it big" and then rest on his laurels. The man has been building on his success as The Office's most lovable heartthrob ever since he first set foot on the set.

All of this is worthy of recognition, and fortunately Krasinski is starting to get it. In 2018 the man — can we say legend yet? —  made it onto Time's list of the 100 Most Influential People of 2018. If that isn't a mark of global recognition, we don't know what is. You can see the Time write-up by none other than his buddy and fellow superstar Chris Pratt here. In the meantime, we can all wait with baited breath to see what else this Office alumnus, action hero, family man, actor, producer, director, and all-around world-shaker has up his sleeve next.