Directing your spouse in a feature film is already a challenging proposition. And if that feature film happens to be a horror movie, it can be downright terrifying. That’s the situation that John Krasinski confronted when he and his real-life wife, Emily Blunt, decided to play the fictional couple at the center of the chilling new monster movie, A Quiet Place. Opening in theaters on April 6, the Krasinski-directed creature feature takes place in a post-apocalyptic America where much of the population has been consumed by beasts who feed on sound.
The Abbott family—which includes Lee and Evelyn (Krasinski and Blunt), and their two children (Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe)—have so far managed to escape that bloody fate by leading largely silent lives. But with a new baby on the way, they’re only going to be able to remain quiet for so long; over the course of one long day and night, we watch as their carefully maintained existence breaks down…and the creatures they’ve kept at bay come calling.
As the director, it was Krasinski’s task to put his cast through the physical and emotional wringer to heighten A Quiet Place‘s fear factor. That meant that no one received special treatment, including his beloved bride. In fact, Blunt is front and center in one of the movie’s scariest set-pieces: an extended sequence where Evelyn goes into labor in a bathtub as one of the monsters hovers outside the door. “I think the hardest thing for me was to torture her like that—meaning having her go multiple takes,” Krasinski tells Yahoo Entertainment about that scene, which was filmed over the course of one very long, very intense week. “But I left it up to her; she’s a rip-the-Band-Aid off kind of performer, so she said, ‘Let’s do it, let’s go in one week.'”
Both Krasinski and Blunt point to the bathtub sequence as being a case where their off-screen relationship only enhanced the finished film. “I’ve watched her go through [birth] in real life,” the former star of The Office says of his wife, with whom he has two young daughters. “I’d seen the incredible strength it took for her to have our girls. I think it would have been even weirder to have a stranger go through that!” Meanwhile, Blunt credits her husband’s background as an actor for making the scene less painful to shoot. “He’s really supportive, and knows that you’ve got to give people space. He just set the camera down and was like, ‘Do whatever you want.'”
Another example of the couples’ real life colliding with their reel life comes earlier in the movie when Evelyn and Lee slow-dance to Neil Young’s 1992 favorite, “Harvest Moon,” while sharing a pair of earbuds to keep the volume low. “It’s a really personal song for us,” Krasinski reveals. “Our two dear friends got married to that song. It’s one of my favorite scenes in the movie, and a great example of a scene where no dialogue is so helpful. I could never have written lines that wouldn’t have sounded clunky. If the guy looked at the girl and said, ‘I love you,’ or ‘I’m scared,’ it would have been the worst scene ever. So thank god we didn’t have dialogue!”