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John Krasinski is in some pretty good company.
The writer/actor premiered his new film, Promised Land, in New York on Tuesday night, capping what was truly a cross-country journey. The Focus Features release took its bow on Broadway, is set in a small rural community in Pennsylvania that is faced with the choice of whether to trade the health of its land for potential riches, and was first written in sunny Malibu.
Krasinski wanted to make a film about American identity, based around his grandfather’s farm in Pittsburgh. He first took the idea to author Dave Eggers, who worked with him on Away We Go, and after they hammered out the story, he brought it to fellow Boston native and the film’s eventual leading man, Matt Damon.
“We actually did sit down together, especially for the first couple of drafts,” Krasinski told The Hollywood Reporter of their writing process. “He was actually working on We Bought a Zoo, and he had a house out in Malibu at the time, so I drove to him every single weekend — he wins by default because he has four beautiful girls — and we just sat at the table around breakfast and stayed til dinner on Saturday and Sunday. And the cool thing was because we were moonlighting — I was doing [The Office] — we would have those five days to go over it and see if it really still sat well with us by the time we came back. So by the time we came back, we had the changes that we knew we wanted to make and just jumped right in.”
Damon had nothing but kind words for his co-writer and co-star. He even hearkened back to his most famed partner in crime, with whom he won a screenwriting Oscar.
“We worked really fast. It reminded me of writing with Ben [Affleck], actually,” Damon, who nearly directed the film, said. “It was exciting. Every time we worked, the script would get better and I could objectively see that it was improving. It became clear very early on that we were going to make the movie.”
Hearing that may have been a bit surprising for Krasinski; for a while, he was unsure the partnership was going to work out.
“It was one of those things where I think in a different way than Matt; I get that excitement where I’m like ‘Oh, this idea will work!’ so I run it through the entire movie,” Krasinski remembered with a laugh. “And Matt’s the guy who needs a few minutes to think about it. At first I misread that as he hated my ideas, so after about a month, when I figured out he didn’t hate my ideas, that’s when we really started getting going.”
Despite the pair’s ownership of the film (they were also co-producers), their cast members insist that they weren’t authoritarian on set.
“They valued the actors’ input, obviously because they’re both actors,” Rosemarie DeWitt, who plays a schoolteacher and potential love interest for Damon, told THR. “They go with what the best idea is in the room. Initially I was like, ‘Ohh…’ because I was coming off some movies that are very improv-natured [including the dramedy Your Sister’s Sister], but they weren’t about saying every word perfectly. Yet we did, because the script was super-well crafted.”
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