A Quiet Place: Why Parenthood Makes for Better Family Horror

The stars of A Quiet Place, John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, relied on their real life relationship to tell a terrifying family horror.

In front of the camera, A Quiet Place is a story about family. Granted, it’s a family that lives in a world where monsters will eviscerate you if you make too loud of a sound, but it’s a story of family nonetheless. Behind the camera, A Quiet Place is remarkably also a film about family. Despite being accomplished actors and creators in their own right, real-life couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt have never starred in a movie together. Their journey to doing so began when Krasinski decided to take a chance on a project that he initially wasn’t very interested in.

“I’m not good with horror movies. I’m a scaredy cat,” Krasinski said at a recent NYC press conference. “[Producer Andrew Form] called me one day and said, ‘Would you ever do a genre movie,’ and I said ‘I don’t know, man. I’m a scaredy cat and I don’t know if I could do horror movies.’ He said, “Well what if it was a really cool idea?’ I asked what the idea was and he said ‘It’s a family that can’t talk, and you have to figure out why.” I said ‘Damn, that’s a really good one-liner.’”

Krasinski knew he was onboard after he read the screenplay from Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, but he soon realized that he wanted Blunt to make this movie with him. There was just one problem.

“For me, when I was coming up with ideas, I always had Emily in mind for the movie,” Krasinski said. “But I wanted her to somehow be able to arrive at that herself. I’ve seen firsthand the incredible specificity, the incredible dedication, and the incredible taste level… I’ve never known anyone to have the same taste level or be smarter with projects than her.”

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Fearing the worst, Krasinski soon envisioned the worst-case scenarios that would follow him asking Blunt to be in the movie.

“The two ways I saw this going were I asked her if she wanted to do this movie and she just said ‘no,’ that would have been a very awkward dinner,” Krasinski recalled. “If I asked her and she said ‘Yes, I’ll do it for you,’ that would have broken my heart, because I didn’t want anything she did to be for me; I wanted it to be for her. When she read the script and said, ‘You can’t let anyone else play this role,’ I truly felt like she was proposing to me… It was really nice too that we let each other kind of arrive at this alone and separately. It made the experience that much more powerful.”

As for why she was so eager to star in the film alongside her husband, despite never having done so, Blunt says that it was based on the way the film’s script went beyond the nature of their relationship.

“I think it was important that we found something that transcended the idea of us being a married couple,”  Blunt said. “I just never wanted that to be the story of the film. This was super exciting because the concept was so incredible… But it was sort of daunting to take it on because we’ve never worked together before. We had people joke, ‘You’re going to be divorced by the end of this movie,’ but it was actually kind of amazing.”

While A Quiet Place doesn’t rely on the appeal of seeing Blunt and Krasinski onscreen together, it does benefit greatly from the couple’s real-life relationship and parental experiences. In fact, Blunt admits to being attracted to the idea of trying to play someone who she saw as kind of parallel of herself.

Said Blunt, “I normally enjoy playing people who are very dissimilar to me, but this was a character who I understood so profoundly and so immediately. I just admired the character, but I was intimidated to take her on. What she experiences are really my deepest fears as a mother as everyone who has children can attest to. It’s the fear of not being able to protect your children from a rather brutal environment. I would not do well in A Quiet Place.”

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Krasinski shares the parental fears that Blunt brought into this role and also admits that they helped him connect to the script in a meaningful way.

“I just had my second daughter–well, Emily just had our second daughter, just three weeks before reading the script, so I was legitimately in that world of terror and spending every single minute of every single day thinking about protecting my daughter,” Krasinski confessed. “Then this script comes about basically the exact same thing and that immediately connected me to the whole project.”

While neither performer sees their characters as exact versions of who they are in real life, each is able to cite ways in which the couple’s relationship and parental experience shone through in the final version of the movie. 

“I think it was very helpful going into this with our lifetime of memories with our children, and imagining what it was like for this family before this experience,” Blunt said. “There’s actually a shot in the film where you see a grave and there’s a picture of me with our oldest daughter who was a baby at the time. It makes me sad because you realize that this is their life before it all went to shit. We tried to bring what we want for our children into this film.”

Krasinski describes the ability to draw from their experience as parents as “cheating” when it comes to his acting in A Quiet Place, and credits it with helping him understand the value of having children characters that an audience can truly relate to. That’s especially true of young Millicent Simmonds who Krasinski says was instrumental to the vision of the film.

“[I told Millicent] people aren’t ready for how good and honest you are,” Krasinski said. “Tell me how you would feel working with a dad that broke your heart? She had such incredible ideas and I learned so much from her. To be honest, when I signed ‘I love you’ to her in the movie, it was because of her. I saw her sign it to her mom, and I’ve never seen anything more beautiful.”

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further reading: The Best Modern Horror Movies

Noah Jupe, who plays the family’s young son in A Quiet Place, was easily able to summarize what it was like working with John and Emily.

“They’re just such lovely people,” Jupe said. “Having two actors who work amazingly off each other and to have them in the same scene as you is pretty crazy. It’s a once in a lifetime experience.”

Jupe may see it as a once in a lifetime experience, but would Krasinski and Blunt work together again? They both seem open to the possibility, and Blunt knows just where to start if the two are going to become a modern-day Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

“We’re going to become raging alcoholics,” Blunt laughed. “That’s the next step in our journey.”