After the massive success of 2018’s “A Quiet Place,” distributor Paramount Pictures quickly and understandably began developing a sequel. But John Krasinski — who co-wrote, directed, produced and starred in the film — had reservations.
“Basically, the studio asked to do a sequel and I very quickly said no,” Krasinski said in an interview with The Daily Californian. “I wanted no part of doing a sequel because I never thought that I could match the experience that I had on the first one or … articulate (the same kind of) organic storytelling.”
But Krasinski soon changed his mind, signing on to write and direct a second installment which releases later this month. “A Quiet Place Part II” follows the remaining members of the Abbott family — Evelyn (Emily Blunt), Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Evelyn’s newborn baby — as they leave their now-destroyed home and venture out into the world, encountering other survivors who also live in fear of the first film’s chilling, sound-sensitive alien creatures.
Krasinski’s choice to return to the world of “A Quiet Place” was inspired by the thematic potential that a sequel could carry.
“I had this small idea, which was to have Millie be the lead of our movie, and the idea there started branching into all the things I loved about the first movie,” Krasinski explained. “And so I realized that I can make this (movie) … a further expansion of the metaphor that I was going for in the first one, which was parenthood.”
This theme is a weighty one for Krasinski, who frames both “A Quiet Place” and “A Quiet Place Part II” as addresses to his own children.
“As a parent who cries at everything, I cried every day writing the script,” Krasinski said. “I just thought about, you know, that imprint you hope you leave on your kids. If the first movie was a love letter to my kids about what I see … parenting being encapsulated as, I would say the second movie is a letter that I wrote to them about all my hopes and dreams (about) what they could be. And I hope … in these dark, dark times, that they would be the brave ones to light a candle in the middle of all that darkness.”
The visual storytelling of “A Quiet Place Part II” expands alongside its thematic heft. Staging the Abbotts’ journey beyond their farmhouse necessitated scoping out a much larger roster of filming locations. For Krasinski, however, this didn’t mean forfeiting the personalized, creative approach that characterized the first film.
“I actually wrote a large part of the movie to be taking place at a steel mill,” Krasinski explained, noting how he shot portions of “A Quiet Place Part II” at a dilapidated Bethlehem Steel plant in Lackawanna, New York. “My grandfather and my dad lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and they were a part of a steel mill community (that) not only (worked the) steel mill every day, but more importantly, (they) would always tell me when I was little about the community that they grew up in … and (in) this movie, my big metaphor I was playing with was community.”
These locations, especially Bethlehem Steel, turned out to be fruitful ones, and Krasinski fondly recalled the experience of shooting in settings with rich cinematic history.
“These buildings have their own stories,” Krasinski said. “Not to sound super corny, but I’m that kind of geek. They were telling their stories in every shot, so all I (had) to do (was) point the camera.”
Alongside these new locations came a number of daytime sequences — including a heart-stopping opening flashback composed of one-takes, seen in the film’s trailer — that posed new creative and logistical challenges for Krasinski and the film’s crew.
“Almost half the movie is in daytime this time,” Krasinski explained. “Turns out shooting in the dark is way easier because you can control the light very quickly and very easily. There are stupid things in life called clouds and sunbeams and they don’t like movies very much because they like to change, and so there’s no continuity. … But you have to just give in to it and just hope that it all breaks your way at the moment.”
The increase in daytime settings also impacted the design of the film’s central antagonist — the aliens.
“It’s the first time our creature has ever been seen in the light, so … we really had to focus on (the) skin color, all the textures and all these things that are usually really moody,” Krasinski said.
It’s clear that Krasinski found joy in tackling such challenges, and in expanding the narrative and cinematic scope of “A Quiet Place Part II.” But for the writer and director, this all remained secondary to telling the audience an affecting story.
“I was terrified to do a second one because I knew there was a lot of pressure and I knew people would want scarier and bigger. And I thought, ‘Why don’t I just start by telling a story that I care about?’ ” Krasinski mused. “Once (I) wrote what’s true and what’s organic to the characters, all the rest of it kind of just fell in line. It was like a big magic trick for me.”