How Steve Carell Made Former ‘Office’ Costar John Krasinski Cry (Exclusive)

Steve Carell is known for his perfect comedic timing, but he’s quite good at tugging at heartstrings too.

Just ask John Krasinski, his former costar on NBC’s The Office. He tells PEOPLE Carell made him cry when they reunited to work on IF, the new family movie about imaginary friends that Krasinski wrote and directed. 

“When he came in, I thought I would have the best time ever, and I did,” explains Krasinski, 44. “But the first thing he did was make me cry, which sounds sad but it was amazing.” 

The two worked together on the Emmy-winning comedy series from 2005 to 2011, the year Carell, 61, who played bumbling paper company manager Michael Scott, left the series. Krasinski, a.k.a. sweet sales rep Jim Halpert, remained until the series ended in 2013.

Though they have stayed in touch, Carell and Krasinski hadn’t seen each other for a few years until Carell came to do voiceover work for Blue, IF’s main imaginary friend.

Steve Carell and John Krasinski at the May 13 premiere of ‘IF’.

Nina Westervelt/Variety via Getty


“I wrote the part for him and had no idea that he could do it, whether scheduling-wise or whatever,” says Krasinski, who has enjoyed success and acclaim as a writer and director thanks to his A Quiet Place franchise.

“For him to sign on was a huge boost. It felt [like] that stamp of approval from family,” explains Krasinski.

Steve Carell voices Blue in ‘IF,’ costarring Cailey Fleming.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures


When they embraced on set after years apart, Carell gave his friend “the greatest brother speech about how proud he was of me and how much he loved the script,” says Krasinski, who shares two daughters, Hazel, 10, and Violet, 7, with his wife Emily Blunt, 41.  

“He said, ‘I knew you’d go on to be a writer-director.’ I said, ‘I didn’t even know that.’ He just said, ‘I’m so proud of you and keep going, and I’ve watched everything and [I’m] cheering you on from the sidelines,’ ” recalls Krasinski. “So I wept at the beginning of our VO session, and then luckily he jumped into being Blue and cheered me up. It was great.”

Steve Carell and John Krasinski in ‘The Office’.

Ron Tom/NBC/Courtesy Everett


IF tells the story of 12-year-old Bea (Cailey Fleming), whose widowed father (Krasinski) is hospitalized with health issues. His daughter moves in with her grandmother (Fiona Shaw) in a Brooklyn brownstone where she meets a neighbor, Cal (Ryan Reynolds), who, like Bea, can see the IFs (imaginary friends) — animated characters voiced by a cavalcade of stars including Blunt, Carell, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper and Matt Damon.

He says getting everyone on board was as simple as picking up the phone. 

“I had finished the script, I was sitting with my producing partner and we just stuck all these drawings up on the wall and we said, ‘All right, dream cast, let’s just go for it.’ And I will say, I’ve never gotten more yeses in my career or faster yeses in my career,” says Krasinski. “I got every single person I asked. It was actually too fast. So now I’m spoiled.”

For more on John Krasinski, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE.

IF is in theaters May 17.

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