Why Narrating 'Born in China' Made John Krasinski So Emotional

Why Narrating 'Born in China' Made John Krasinski So Emotional

John Krasinski has always been a guy who gets emotional watching nature documentaries — but narrating the Disneynature film Born in China, shortly after having his second child with wife Emily Blunt, took things to a whole new level. “I was weeping very openly,” Krasinksi tells Yahoo Movies of his experience working on the documentary (in theaters April 21), which he describes as “the entire process of parenthood in 76 minutes.” That is to say, the film’s rare footage of panda, leopard, and monkey families, as ably narrated by Krasinski, is at once hilarious, heartbreaking, adorable, and awe-inspiring, in a way that most parents will find familiar. Of course, Disneynature’s younger audience (including Krasinski’s older daughter, who, at 3 years old, is new to the moviegoing experience) will just want to see the baby panda and funny monkeys. Yahoo Movies spoke to Krasinski from the set of Amazon’s spy-thriller series Jack Ryan (he’s playing the title character) to talk about crying over animal babies, his nature doc obsession, and the art of telling a Disneynature story.

David Attenborough</a>?</strong>” data-reactid=”23″>Yahoo: Is doing this narration this a bucket list item for you? Do you have ambitions of being David Attenborough?

John Krasinski: Oh, my God, no! No one can be David Attenborough. There’s only one. But certainly the programs like his are the inspiration for why I’ve always been into nature programs, or even YouTube clips of baby pandas — I’m a sucker for all of it. But truly for me, the Disneynature movies have been a step above all of it. I’ve seen every single one of them, and I’ve gone to all of them on opening weekend. I’m that much of a nerd for them, because not only are they so beautiful and so much fun to watch, but they’re so emotional. And I think they’re as good as any narrative out there that’s scripted.

Do you take your kids? I guess they’re a little young still.

My older daughter is animal-obsessed, and we did our first movie recently, so I think our second movie theater experience might have to be this one. She’ll probably not like the person narrating, but she’ll like the images.

Like you, I had a baby last year, and I found myself relating very strongly to the panda mom in the movie.

Oh my God, right? It doesn’t take much for me to cry, but with this movie I was a mess. It’s the entire process of parenthood in 76 minutes.

Born in China pandas Ya Ya and Mei Mei. (Photo: Ben Wallis, Disney)

Did you see the footage for the first time while you were narrating?

content=”They pretty much had the finished movie for me to watch, which was amazing and obviously extremely helpful. … But I think the coolest thing for me was how seriously they take it. You know, I would have totally leaned into the adorable nature of the images that you’re seeing and probably read this a much different way. But instead, they really push you to feel the reality and the drama and the intensity of these stories — you know, really take it seriously and respect the landscape and the environment that you’re talking about, which was so great, because of course, that’s how you get moved and that’s how you learn something. You know, they’re fully aware that they have baby pandas in their movie<em>. [Laughs.]</em> But the baby pandas are part of a larger structure. And that’s what makes these movies so good and so moving.” data-reactid=”41″>They pretty much had the finished movie for me to watch, which was amazing and obviously extremely helpful. … But I think the coolest thing for me was how seriously they take it. You know, I would have totally leaned into the adorable nature of the images that you’re seeing and probably read this a much different way. But instead, they really push you to feel the reality and the drama and the intensity of these stories — you know, really take it seriously and respect the landscape and the environment that you’re talking about, which was so great, because of course, that’s how you get moved and that’s how you learn something. You know, they’re fully aware that they have baby pandas in their movie. [Laughs.] But the baby pandas are part of a larger structure. And that’s what makes these movies so good and so moving.

What were the kinds of directions they gave you for your narration?

They really want you to communicate to the audience the gravity of what’s going on. Just outside of China, with all these cities and industries and people, is this whole different world, a whole different planet, for lack of a better term. I think they really want you to frame the story in that way. So right from the beginning, talking about the crane being a symbol in China of taking the souls of people who recently passed and bringing them to the other side, there’s such beautiful imagery and such beautiful poetry. They don’t want it to just be, “Aw shucks, look at that baby panda.”

There are some serious moments of drama, too — more than I expected.

It really sneaks up on you. And I don’t know if you were like me — I was weeping very openly.

I was noting in the narration that you have to pivot relatively quickly from “Look at me, I’m a silly monkey!” to “There is a force stronger than love, and that force is nature, and it’s tearing them apart.” I’m paraphrasing a bit, but that’s a big range.

What you’re saying is it’s my best performance yet. I appreciate it. Thank you. [Laughs.]

John Krasinski and wife Emily Blunt on Jan. 29. (Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

Is there an animal you found yourself relating most strongly too?

I think most people would think I related to the monkey the most, but we had recently had our second daughter when I had gone in to record this, and so the snow leopard story really just completely gutted me. It’s inspiring to know that this sort of love and commitment to your kids at all costs is inside each and every one of us. In human terms, everyone’s heard the story of the mother picking up a car to save her child. And to know that that’s in us is really inspiring. So seeing her go through that whole adventure with these beautiful, adorable cubs, but also this incredibly treacherous and intense situation, was really moving and powerful to me.

It’s been 24 hours since I saw the film, and I can’t stop wondering what happened to the cubs.

They’re fine, don’t worry. They’re fine. Look away!

How did working on this film affect you? Have you booked your ticket to China?

I have not booked my ticket to China. I was offered by the Disneynature folks to go over there, and sadly I couldn’t because I was starting Jack Ryan, but I would love to at some point for sure. But like I said, I really am first in line to see these movies because I find them so inspiring. It’s very rare these days to leave a movie theater and feel better coming out than you did going in. We live in a very digital, insulated world, and so there is something very expanding about seeing all this stuff and knowing that it’s right there — if you wanted to go, you could go! — and that these animals are existing like this every single day.

Well, thanks for taking the time out of your intense Jack Ryan schedule to talk to me about pandas.

Hey, it’s always nice to talk about pandas.

Watch the trailer for Born in China:

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Published at Thu, 20 Apr 2017 19:19:44 +0000