John Krasinski, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Christian Black

Lately, there has been one thing on the minds of John Krasinski fans and one thing only: His new bod.

The magazine covers, the talk-show appearances, the junket interviews—they've all been obsessing over it. "John Krasinski Got Jacked" and "Pack on 25 Pounds of Muscle: Try This Guy's Workout" read the headlines. "How did you do it?" and "What does your wife think?" ask the talk show hosts. 

But behind the admittedly justified probes and fanfare lies a movie role that marks the real change for Krasinski. The actor formerly known as Jim Halpert packed on the pounds (and grew a very impressive beard) for his part in this Friday's war hero flick 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, which is his chance to prove that he's way more than the soft-spoken, dryly hilarious romantic lead.

For years the world has known him as, for lack of a better description, a loveable giant. Whether he was Scranton's best husband (that's The Office for the newbies) or the voice of reason in an almost parody-level crazy family in It's Complicated, he was the guy that made you go aww. On-screen and off, he's the guy smart women want to have a great conversation with—not so much the guy they expect to be running through a shootout with a flak jacket. 

This rings especially true when you look at who Hollywood has deemed to be the typical war movie star: It's the Joel Edgertons (Zero Dark Thirty), the Mark Wahlbergs (Lone Survivor), the Jeremy Renners (The Hurt Locker). Men who pump iron in wife beaters by day and sling automatic weapons by night. (Onscreen, of course).

But now John Krasinski has joined that club, and it might take some getting used to. His role in 13 Hours is your typical soldier fare. He plays a member of a security team tasked with protecting the American outpost in Benghazi, Libya during the controversial terrorist attack. The attack itself is famous by now, and the movie sets out to tell the story from the soldiers' point of view. Krasinski is tasked with leading that story, and it's easy to see that he's put a lot of work into embodying a solider (and not just in the gym). 

His very first scene involves a roadside confrontation; two American security officials versus a whole gaggle of local militia. Can John look scary and serious? Check. Can he handle a gun? Check. Can he grow a wartime beard? Check plus

John Krasinski, 13 Hours

Facial hair-growing skills aside (as impressive as they are), J.Krans (can we call him that?) takes every opportunity possible to show off his newfound physicality—and to remind viewers that he's a buff soldier-playing dude now. And works. He works out at the CIA gym alongside his rougher (and more war movie-like) costars. He nails his stunts, heavy artillery and bulky battle uniforms and all. He hits his signature Michael Bay one-liners with the perfect blend of urgency and humor ("It's just another night in Benghazi!"). And perhaps most importantly, he rouses from his barracks bed, shirtless and covered in sweat and desert-y dirt, one of the few actors in the movie to achieve such a level of clothes less-ness, in case the constant beard stroking and bicep-bulging wasn't enough of a reminder of his new persona. 

But in a true example of irony, the biggest reason audiences will be able to get on board with Serious John (again, six-pack aside), is the fact that he somehow doesn't lose that much-loved sensitive side. His character (one of the few soldiers in the Benghazi attack who has chosen to remain anonymous) is the only one who is given a true backstory in 13 Hours. He FaceTimes with his family in between operations and gives an emotional speech during the siege about what his life as a soldier has done to them.

These emotions aren't new to wartime movies, but they're somehow more believable coming from John Krasinski than, say, Mark Wahlberg. It's both jarring and endearing to see our secret crush saying goodbye to his fallen comrades on a Libyan tarmac, but it's a reaction we'd like to have more of. Do we miss the sarcasm we're used to seeing from him? Sure. But then we remember the image of him screaming, nostrils flared, at a stubborn CIA station chief to "Get in the f--king car" and we don't care.

It's up to John and John alone whether this turn in 13 Hours marks a new era in his career, but it is worth mentioning that he's been really into this new body ("Now that I'm here, I can't give up on it"). Chris Pratt's role in Zero Dark Thirty marked a turning point, even if it took his Guardians of the Galaxy weight loss for fans to realize it, and Krasinski could be poised for the same trajectory.

If it means more John Krasinski in any capacity, we're on board. 

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