EXCLUSIVE: My, there has been a flurry of pre-holiday material sales. In the latest, Warner Bros has acquired an action-adventure spec script written by John Krasinski and Oren Uziel. Krasinski and his Sunday Night banner will team with Pearl …
Ari Karpel is an AwardsLine contributor.
Matt Damon and John Krasinski are well aware that Promised Land is facing what Damon deems “an uphill climb.” The film, about a community confronting the rock-and-hard-place decision of whether to frack or not to frack—that is, whether to allow a major corporation to come in and drill for natural gas in exchange for millions of dollars and, potentially, the townspeople’s physical health—faces a marketing challenge that teeters on the same fine line Damon and Krasinski walked while writing its screenplay.
And yet that hardly compares to the ups and downs he and Krasinski faced in getting the movie off the ground.
It all started with Krasinski, who wanted to write a screenplay about “some sort of abuse of power in…the green energy movement.” The actor, best known as Jim Halpert on The Office, had previously written and directed 2009’s Brief Interviews With Hideous Men and starred in Away We Go, written by Dave Eggers, who also consulted on the film. “I brought it to Dave because these are issues close to his heart, too,” Krasinski says. They hashed out characters and a story, set against the backdrop of the wind-farming industry. (Eggers has a “story by” credit.)
Fleming Q&A’s Matt Damon/John Krasinski: ‘Promised Land’; A Bat Stamp On ‘Bourne 4’; Ending ‘The Office’; Cheating On Affleck
EXCLUSIVE: Even before Focus Features made Promised Land a late Oscar entry, the film’s writer-stars Matt Damon and John Krasinski came under fire from the energy industry. Their film deals with “fracking,” which mixes chemicals, sand, water and drilling to loosen underground shale deposits to harvest natural energy. Damon and Fran McDormand play gas company reps using the lure of potential riches to convince struggling farmers to allow fracking on their lands, despite the risks for their crops and livestock. Krasinski plays a grassroots activist fighting the reps as the town prepares to vote. Promised Land reunites Damon with Gus Van Sant, who directed Good Will Hunting, which brought Oscars and fame to Boston neophyte scribes Damon and Ben Affleck. Damon and Krasinski are fun guys, the type who’d be a blast to invite over to watch football…as long as you aren’t a fan of the New York Giants and the two Super Bowls they won over the New England Patriots.
DEADLINE: Matt, you’ve said recently that the Bourne Legacy spinoff didn’t make it any easier for Jason Bourne to return. What has to happen for us to see your signature character back onscreen?
DAMON: Just a couple things, really. Paul Greengrass has to want to do it, and secondly and equally important, it comes down to Paul and I knowing what the hell we want to do. We just don’t have a story, and we haven’t had one. I quietly went to Jonah Nolan, because he and his brother Chris did such a brilliant job on Batman and that whole mythology. I just said, can you put your brain on this? I can’t figure it out. And he took a run at it and he couldn’t crack it either. Paul and I have been talking about it for years. And we can’t quite see what the movie would be. If we could get line of sight on that…
DEADLINE: We are force-fed so many unnecessary sequels, and here is a smart thriller that we actually want to see more of…
DAMON: Neither of us is against it. I would love to do another one. I love that character. To me, the reason to make that movie is because people want to see it. Paul and I have said that to each other. We don’t take for granted the fact that we’ve built an audience for Bourne, that’s a real privilege. But our part of that bargain is that the movie is good and belongs with the other three. Until we can deliver that, we just can’t make it.
DEADLINE: I watched last week as Brad Pitt’s bankability got questioned after Killing Them Softly tanked. How much do stars like you and Brad worry about taking on projects like that or Promised Land? You see them as specialty pictures made at a price, but if they fail, they go down in the loss column.
DAMON: Some actors don’t make these movies for exactly that reason. I couldn’t bear to have a career like that. These are exactly the kind of movies I like to go see. That might put me in the minority of the movie-going public, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t make them. In writing Promised Land, John and I talked a lot about films like Local Hero and The Verdict, a movie I absolutely love. I don’t know what that movie would do today, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to be in The Verdict.
DEADLINE: How helpful then are hits like Bourne?
DAMON: It’s always nice when one hits. It buys you relevance in the industry for a couple years and gives you cover to do these other things. But I would never just protect my beach head. That would be a career built out of fear and I won’t live that way. I want to challenge myself in different genres, playing different characters, and I don’t want to get pigeonholed and forced to do the same things. If Promised Land does not do a lot of business, it’s not going to end my career. But I am mindful like we all are that you don’t get to keep doing this if your movies don’t perform at the box office.
DEADLINE: John, how hard is it for you to end your long run on The Office?
KRASINSKI: It’s as hard as it gets, to be honest. This is so much more for me than just ending a television series. I was a waiter when I got the job. No one would know my name if it wasn’t for this job and I certainly wouldn’t have gotten the career opportunities. To be part of something special enough to have a final season rather than just getting canned is an honor. The show is everything to me. By the end of whatever career I have, there’s a part of me that will always be defined by this show and I’m supremely honored that is the case. I got this job when I was 23 and now I’m 33 and that’s a pretty important decade to spend on one project with one group of people. This is the most important thing I’ve ever done, the proudest thing I have. I will never forget a minute of it nor would I take back a second of it.
EXCLUSIVE: All is well when it ends well. I’ve learned that after lengthy negotiations, The Office stars Ed Helms, John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer have reached an agreement in principal to return to the veteran NBC series next season and are inches away from signing on the dotted line. I hear the fourth original Office cast member whose deal is up, B.J. Novak, has not started discussions, but he has a dual role on the series as an actor and writer/executive producer.
EXCLUSIVE: Rosemarie DeWitt will play the female lead in Promised Land, the Focus Features/Participant Media film that Gus Van Sant will direct with Matt Damon and John Krasinski starring. Damon and Krasinski wrote the script. The film, which got …
UPDATE: I’m told the film has a new title: Promised Land.
EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that Focus Features and Participant Media won a bidding battle for the untitled film that Gus Van Sant will direct with Matt Damon and John Krasinski starring, from the script those actors co-wrote. Focus and Participant are tying down the details. You’ll recall that Damon planned to make his directing debut on the film, but when his schedule made that impossible, he and producer Chris Moore brought it to their Good Will Hunting director Van Sant, who signed on. The film, which got a first draft from Dave Eggers when its title was Gold Mist, is a Capraesque tale in which Damon and Krasinski play rival corporate executives. Damon plays a sales executive who arrives in a small town only to have his whole life called into question. Moore, Damon and Krasinski will produce and production begins in April.
EXCLUSIVE: The Chateau Marmont, which for the past 80 years has served as the backdrop of major events in Hollywood history and the lives of its famous inhabitants, will now take front stage in a miniseries from The Office star John Krasinski and Aaron Sorkin. Oscar winner Sorkin will write the mini, now in early development, which will be based on the book Life At The Marmont by former Chateau Marmont co-owner Raymond R. Sarlot and Fred Basten. Krasinski, who has been the driving force behind the project, and Sorkin will executive produce with Chateau Marmont’s current owner Andre Balazs and his daughter Alessandra. Krasinski is also expected to play a role in the as-yet-untitled miniseries, which will tell the interconnected stories of the people who frequented the famed Hollywood landmark over several generations. Since the 1930s, the building, originally built as an apartment complex in the late 1920s and then converted into a hotel, has been the epicenter of Hollywood, attracting film and television actors, literary greats and rock stars. Its guest list through the years has included Jean Harlow, Bette Davis, Erol Flynn, Stan Laurel, John Wayne, Vivien Leigh, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Sharon Tate, Hunter S. Thompson, Heath Ledger, Keanu Reeves and Lindsay Lohan. Greta Garbo attended parties there during her movie star days and later stayed at the hotel during her seclusion period, James Dean auditioned for Rebel Without a Cause there, Howard Hughes stayed in the attic and spied on women at the pool, F. Scott Fitzgerald had a heart attack at the hotel, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis recorded and Lily Allen wrote a song there, and Sofia Coppola set and filmed Somewhere at the Chateau Marmont. And then there is the event the hotel is most closely associated with: John Belushi’s 1982 death of a drug overdose in one of the garden bungalows.
Speaking of Alec Baldwin, he and The Office’s John Krasinski are among a group who’ve shot trash-talking baseball rivalry spots that are about to begin airing. The spots are directed by Bryan Buckley. Here’s the one that Baldwin and Krasinski shot: