John Krasinski and Drew Barrymore talk with us about their latest project, 'Big Miracle', in theaters February 3, 2012.
If you're thinking about catching a movie this weekend, I'm tossing you my recommendation to see 'Big Miracle'. It's based on the true story of an inspiring collaborative effort – spanning two continents – to save a family of whales trapped in the ice near Barrow, Alaska.
I flew out to California last week for an early screening and loved it. I was a teenager when this went down in 1988 and I don't remember much about it. Since MTV was still playing music videos back then, I admit that I wasn't watching the news too often. So, it was nice to see the story unfold at an age where I can now appreciate the magnitude of what these people accomplished together.
John Krasinski and Drew Barrymore sat down with a small group of mom bloggers to share some of their experiences making this movie and their desire to do it justice because not only is it an amazing story, but also because the real people of this whale-saving effort were involved in much of the film's journey to the screen.
Q: Does preparing for a role in a movie that's based on a true story take more work and more research?
John Krasinski: "Yes, you can't get it wrong as much. It's an important thing. Especially this one, the story's so incredible that you want to make sure the movie's as incredible as the story, which is very, very difficult to achieve. I remember reading the script for the first time, and I remember saying to Ken [Director Ken Kwapis] and I'd been friends with Ken for a while, and I said, it's really, really good, I like it, it's very, very sweet, I just think we've got to pull back some of these storylines, nobody's gonna believe them. He said that they're all true. And I was like, okay, Ken. I don't know how long you've been in Hollywood, but that's not possible that all these are true. And he's like, they're all true. And that blew my mind."
John on the collaborative effort to free the whales and how social media can make impact today:
John Krasinski: I thought that there was something really, really special that would bring together these people. And I think in this day and age with the social media, I think it's a great direct correlation.
I personally believe that the time to believe in speaking up and having a voice and what can I do to help and all that is now. One Tweet, one Facebook page, one anything can start an entire movement for your favorite charity. You can get a pothole filled on Main Street. You can do whatever you want. Or, you can go all the way and start a revolution and be out in the streets of New York and start a national campaign, you know?
So, it's an incredibly powerful time to believe in getting together. And I think, innately, people have a goodness inside them that wants to bond with goodness in other people. Whether you believe in the same things or not, you can get together and do great things.
If this were to happen today, given social media, what do you think each of your characters would have done?
John Krasinski: There's an app to save whales. It just goes like that.
Drew Barrymore: If there's not, there should be.
John Krasinski: Exactly.
Drew Barrymore: I think that they're completely connected in the way that it was media that got this story out to begin with. And that was sort of the big catalyst. So, I think that's amazing considering it was such a different time, and now that's exactly the way things are happening. And I think that like Cindy, my character whose name is Rachel in movie, I'm portraying this woman Cindy Lowry, who I spent a lot of time with, I would need to ask her that because that's not something we discussed, how would you respond to social media. I know she's not like tech savvy. She has the really old school cell phone, and she was trying to create this website for herself and Universal's helping her. But, she loved having a voice, and she really did pull out a bullhorn in the middle of an auction to sell off the Bristol Bay Auction. So, she really was that person.
And she's a bit of a bull in a china shop in that way. And I think people who don't know what the boundaries are and sort of do whatever they need to do to get their point across probably would love a social media platform.
How much time did you spend with Cindy?
Drew Barrymore: "Quite a lot. We met up in New York and spent some time. I started interviewing her and putting the microphone down and just recording hours and hours of her talking. And then, she came out to LA and stayed with me, and we stayed together for a while. And then, she came out to Alaska for the whole beginning of filming. We would hike and we would eat and we would wake up and talk, and we just really got to know each other. And definitely, the recording devices went by the wayside because I just really enjoyed being with her, and it just all started to resonate. And I was glad that we really genuinely got along versus that sort of faux connection. I thought, all right, all right, I like you so much, this is gonna be so great. Okay, I want to do this justice. And she's a really feisty woman, too, which I like."
"One of the stories that I really like about her which will give you a little insight into her, at least it gives me a visual, is there was a guy across the way, because it's illegal to hunt wolf from your helicopter, which is something that they like to do, aerial shooting, and it's highly illegal. And she knew this guy was up to something, up to no good across the way.And she used to crouch down at night and peer into these binoculars. And she was trying to gather information to take him to court. And there was just something about that that I thought, you did that? That's creepy and awesome and cool and thorough and must have been cold and dedicated and sneaky, and I just like you. But, that's why she ended up going to Alaska, and then this story happened."
Drew explains how she "uplugged" from technology while they were in Alaska for the shoot:
Drew Barrymore: We all lived on the same floor, so it was very dormitory.
John Krasinski: It did. It felt like camp. It was amazing.
Drew Barrymore: And I got a lot of letters from my friends because I tend to shut down when I'm doing parts as an actor and just want to not email, not be on the cell phone. And it's a great excuse for me to say, “I'll see you in three months.” But, if we want to write letters, here's the address. And it's a full tilt snail mail campaign.
Drew Barrymore: So, it added to the camp element, because it would be dear such-and-such–
John Krasinski: (jokingly) Yes, she made me write letters to her. I couldn't talk to her directly until now, actually.
What was it like working with the automated animatronic whales?& Is it harder to work with kids, puppies or electronic whales?
John Krasinski: [looking at Drew] Or aliens.
Drew Barrymore: I like it all.
John Krasinski: Yes, the animatronic whales were really unbelievable. They were so well done. These guys built them and engineered them and then were working them. And it was kind of insane because you really did not believe that they were robots. It was very overwhelming to see one of these things pop out. And while you were acting, to have these things continuously coming out of the water was phenomenal. It adds a whole other element to the set. Usually, it's a tennis ball coming out and they say, “We're going put the whales in later.” You're like that doesn't really help us when I'm saying goodbye to a tennis ball. Although I have had some great scenes with tennis balls.
Drew Barrymore: And they've put them on these sticks, and sometimes, I've even had someone put a smiley face on it, which makes you get out there and you're like. I feel a little bit silly. I'm not a very good pretender. I like to really just get lost in it and believe in all of it. And I know that sounds like an insane person, but then I guess I'm a little insane.
Q: Do you feel more comfortable with that kind of granola girl image, or now, you're just very glamorous and you look better than ever?
Drew Barrymore: Thank you. Thank you. I like to play dress up, you know? Sometimes, I want to wear all pink and put on a lot of makeup and then, sometimes, it's sweat pants. I don't think there's anything more that I value than my sweatpants. I just like being at home and being cozy.
Q: Do you ever want to do the camera thing from The Office when you're (staring directly into the camera)?
John Krasinski: "Well, it's really funny because Ken [Kwapis] directed the first Office. So, he actually set the tone aesthetically for our entire show. And I remember one of the first takes, I was talking to him and he was standing right next to the camera, and he goes don't you dare. And I was like, what? He's like do not look in that lens. And I was like, how dare you, sir. And then, I did the look, so–yes?
Stay tuned for interview recaps with Ted Danson and Dermott Mulroney later this week!