Krasinski swaps The Office for shootout in Libya

Actor makes ‘big change’ from sitcom to film role as CIA tough guy

In the first moments of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, a bearded and buff John Krasinski steps into an SUV and is immediately handed a SIG Sauer pistol, which he cracks open to check that it is loaded.

It is a clear signal that we are very far from Krasinski’s beloved character Jim Halpert, who smirked his way through 187 episodes of petty politics and paper cuts in TV’s The Office.

Even for Krasinski, 36, his 13 Hours role as former Navy SEAL Jack Silva is a jolt to the system. “When people hear that Jim from The Office was cast in this role, they have a certain sense of wondering how that’s going to be,” Krasinski said. “And they are probably going to be a little confused.

“I’m not going to deny it’s a big change — it’s a big change for me. But I always follow a good story.”

13 Hours is just that, the boots-on-the-ground account of the 2012 terrorist attack at the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, in which U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed.

Krasinski’s Silva (a real person with a changed name) was part of a security team of CIA contractors who defended the compound during the attack.

When Krasinski heard about the role, he knew that he would be a long shot. He had to audition hard and was told that director and co-producer Michael Bay might not even watch his tape.

“The likelihood of me getting the role then was very low. [Bay] was talking about other actors from the beginning,” Krasinski said. “I heard that when my name was brought up to certain people higher up, they thought it was interesting, but not necessarily the right thing.”

The next thing the father of one knew (he has a toddler,  Hazel, with wife Emily Blunt), he went from having no chance to landing the role of the conflicted soldier with two daughters at home. Krasinski was charged with capturing Silva’s human side and the fighter.

“People are going to be so shocked and surprised by this performance,” said James Badge Dale, who stars as an ex Navy SEAL working with Silva.
Krasinski transformed to a shredded warrior with the same personal trainer who put Bradley Cooper into fighting shape for American Sniper.

Ten weeks of twice-a-day workouts paid off with a realistic buffness, not to mention the cover of Men’s Health. “I got out of the shower one day and said: ‘Who the hell is this handsome guy trying to rob us?’ ” Krasinski said.

Military training helped him realistically portray firing and carrying his SIG and M4 firearms. Krasinski said he aimed to explore the heroics of those on the ground, without delving into the overt politics of the post-attack fallout.

“Jack was a true gentlemen who told me: ‘Ask any questions, because I want to get this story out, and I want it told right,’ “ Krasinski said. “That was a powerful engine.”    

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