Emily Blunt and John Krasinski give a front-seat look behind A Quiet Place 2's chaotic opening scene
“I wasn’t sure if that was going to be the selling point or the breaking point,” says Krasinski.
John Krasinski had a kernel of an idea that would blossom into the story for A Quiet Place Part II. He just didn't know at the time whether "that was going to be the selling point or the breaking point" for his wife, Emily Blunt, he tells EW.
The film, in theaters now, largely picks up after the events of the first movie, which introduced the Abbott family defending their rural home from vicious alien creatures that hunt through sound. But the original concept for the sequel started with what became the film's opening sequence: a typical all-American day of Little League comes apart at the seams when these monsters arrive on earth and immediately lay siege to the Abbott's quiet (pun intended) small town. Amidst the chaos of this flashback, parents Evelyn (Blunt) and Lee (Krasinski) frantically race to save their children, leading to a chaotic vehicular mosh-pit.
Speaking with EW in an interview that took place in 2020, months before the film would be delayed in theaters for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Krasinski recalls his sense of unease to relay this sequence to Blunt. "To tell someone [you love] that you're going to get into a car and it's all real and you're going to have a bus come at you at 40 miles an hour," he says. "I promise. I still love you."
Funny enough, Blunt saw the scene as a selling point to do the sequel. Krasinski always had planned to keep the first film open-ended, but then the studio set its sights on a follow-up after the unexpected worldwide success of the original movie. Both he and Blunt were "on the fence," she says, about returning for another outing — until she read that opening.
"I was shooting in Hawaii on Jungle Cruise, but [Krasinski] started to form this idea that I thought was undeniable," she says. "Then it became very apparent that we'd be idiots not to do it."
Looking back on that now in 2021, weeks before Part II finally makes it to the big screen, she adds of reading the script, "I wanted to be in that sequence and in this movie."
"I think it's quite a bold opening," she adds, "because you're just asking people to go along with the idea that this is a flashback, that you're really seeing the beginnings of this whole thing. What the opening sequence does is it grounds [the film]. It also is that nostalgic memory of how life was — the all-American town. It re-centers you to look at what this family was before this happened. I think that was important because we meet the Abbott's in the first [movie] in the midst of it all, but it's nice to see who they were before day 1. That was always really interesting to me."
The phrase "controlled chaos" comes to mind as Blunt and Krasinski explain the preparation that went into pulling off this scene, which involves a tracking shot of Evelyn driving a car in reverse to avoid a careening bus. (Watch the clip above.)
The production took over the town of Akron in northern Buffalo, N.Y. It felt to Blunt like a "breath of fresh air" in the sense that "we're all cleaned up and I'm not wearing the bedraggled green dress" — the same wardrobe she wore throughout the bulk of the first movie and into the second. "It was just a happy day, almost like an alternate reality," she adds. "And then, of course, there's the invasion and the town gets completely destroyed."
Lauren Shaw, the actress' stunt double in both A Quiet Place Part II and Jungle Cruise, filmed her portions of the sequence for about two weeks, Blunt recalls, before it was time for her to hop in the driver's seat herself. She hadn't practiced for it much, but everyone around her had marching orders.
"They had choreographed everything down to a fine art if anything went wrong," Blunt explains. "The bus driver knew at this moment, if you cross this line, you pull over or you break. My stunt driver is on top of the car and knew when the bus hits, you got to go."
For an added element of claustrophobia, Krasinski wanted the camera to be in the car with the actors as they played off their surroundings. Blunt says there was "a very special piece of camera equipment that came in through the roof of the car that I think was ordered from Germany or something."
Krasinski was inspired by the tracking shot in Children of Men, in which characters played by Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and more are crammed into a car when they are ambushed on a country road. He wanted to do something similar and shoot it in a single take.
"He comes in like, 'You got to be in this moment and not cut away,'" Blunt remembers. "He was bullish about it, and I think production was concerned that he wouldn't be able to do it. So, when it came time to shoot it, that stuff was done in a day. [The whole sequence] just wrapped in about two weeks."
"The script started from me in the beginning of the movie and trying to give the audience a small taste of how this all started," Krasinski says. "Something I loved about being a fan of the movie as much as being the director is that what I was seeing from fans were the same things I cared about."
With strong early box-office numbers for Thursday preview screenings, it looks like fans are already satisfied.
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