Like you, John Krasinski is a fan of The Office. As the beloved sitcom shoots its ninth and final season, the 33-year-old Boston-born actor is promoting his biggest Hollywood role yet: as Matt Damon’s co-writer, co-star and co-producer on Promised Land, set in a farm town where a huge natural-gas company rolls in to buy up real estate and tempt struggling families with big payoffs. Damon is the corporate hotshot who’s eager to cut checks; Krasinski plays a canny, too-good-to-be-true environmentalist, a cross between Jim Halpert and Rachel Carson. But Krasinski’s growing Hollywood stature doesn’t mean he’s happy to say goodbye to The Office.
You’ve spent a lot of time with Matt Damon recently. Is there something you’re better at than he is?
Nothing. I don’t even need time to think about it – nothing at all. He’s smart and nice and good-hearted. I wish I could say he’s secretly a murderer. As of now, I haven’t found anything, but you can never rule it out.
Would you say Promised Land has a liberal take on the issue of tracking?
It’s definitely going to have liberal tendencies to it. There’s been a small backlash from certain energy groups, who aren’t happy that our movie says fracking is bad. Anybody who leans right on the issue of energy probably isn’t psyched about this movie.
Once you had the title for the movie, did you talk about trying to license Bruce Springsteen‘s song “The Promised Land”?
We did. And when we played the song, it was almost a little too on the nose. But we were hoping to get “Dancing in the Dark” for the karaoke scene, so we reached out to Bruce and got his blessing. I don’t know if he knew that I was going to butcher the song.
Were you deliberately singing badly in that scene?
I’m not a good singer. In the stage directions to the script, we wrote, “This character is terrible at karaoke.” I had a great time because I could point to the script and say, “No, I’m supposed to be this bad.”
Damon had originally planned to direct Promised Land, and when he dropped out and Gus Van Sant signed up, I heard that you cried. Do you cry a lot?
I have a very intimate relationship with my emotions. I’m fine with that. Unless I start crying right now – then I’ve got to rethink everything.
How far along are you in wrapping the final season of The Office?
We shoot until the middle of March. Just saying that out loud is pretty jarring. That will make me cry. If it’s anything like when Steve [Carell] left, I won’t have it under control at all.
What happened when Steve left?
On the last day of shooting, people were crying all over the place. I was like, “Guys, it’s not a big deal; we’ll see him again.” The last scene of the day was my character saying goodbye to his character. As soon as they called “action,” nothing came out but moaning. Two men had a complete emotional breakdown on camera. For the first four takes, I don’t think anything was usable.
Do you ever find Jim annoying?
Yeah. Jim has this idea that everything is going to be OK in his world, and that can be frustrating to people, especially his wife, when he makes snap decisions and thinks it’ll be fine in the end. He’s the underdog – he’s not the captain of the football team, or the most handsome guy in the world. He’s content where he is, with the potential to be better, and goes completely on what he’s feeling most of the time.
Tell me one indiscreet thing about the final season.
You will get to see the documentary crew. You’ll start finding out who is shooting, and why.
Great. Will you tell me another indiscreet thing?
No! Come on, that’s pretty big.
You went to Brown University and never took drugs. Does that show the degree of focus you had?
No, it speaks to the fact that I was terrified of ending up in a deep hole and being that guy in the corner of the room who you have to take home, and then he yells, “Doritos!” I don’t know if not taking drugs makes me unique or makes me an after-school special. Either way, I’m glad I didn’t.
Let’s imagine the future: It’s the day after The Office has wrapped. Where are you, and what are you doing?
I’m probably on the floor of some bar. I’ve been drinking something with an umbrella in it, sadly. It will take me 45 minutes to figure out where I am, and with any luck, my wife is there to help me home. Either I had the best night ever, or I made everybody around me cry.
This story is from the January 31st, 2013 issue of Rolling Stone.