Next February, take a trip to the movies for an epic, inspirational tale. Big Miracle, starring Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Ted Danson, Dermot Mulroney, and Kristen Bell, follows the lives of several people affected by Operation Breakthrough, a 1998 rescue plan to save three gray whales from pack ice in Point Barrow, Alaska. After trekking to the frosty state and taking a peek at the breathtaking set, I sat down with each of the stars to find out anything and everything about this incredible true story. Here's what Krasinski and Barrymore had to say about their experiences.
How do you handle the weather in Alaska? What are your Alaskan must-haves to stay nice and cozy?
John Krasinski: Must-haves would be these hot packs.
Drew Barrymore: Yeah, the hot packs
JK: We’ve been calling them little hotties.
DB: It’s hard. I’ve got gloves on -- so the best thing for little hotties to do would be to develop little fingers.
JK: We can all split the proceeds.
DB: Call Little Hotties. The fingers and toes are most important. I would also say wind-proof layers are essential -- lots and lots of layers and feet warmers.
JK: I feel like you’re writing a survival guide. Always keep your fingers and toes warm first!
DB: We have been out on that ice for months and I have to say, it was a total trial-and-error thing. When I got here, I had nothing. And I didn’t know what was going to work and what wasn’t. You just start piling on things you like and then get rid of the things that aren’t working.
JK: It was also deceiving when we arrived because it wasn’t that cold. Like the first time I came up, it was about 50 degrees. Coming from L.A., you’re throwing on light sweaters and then winter days hit and you’re asking, “Does anyone have a caribou carcass that I can throw on myself right now?”
When did you guys get here?
JK: (Points to Drew) You got here early. I was going back and forth from work.
DB: He was doing double duty with The Office which is insane, pulling a double shift.
JK: Totally worth it.
DB: It’s really, really hard and he pulled it off beautifully.
So what drew you guys to your respective roles?
JK: For me, the opportunity to play a whale is a once in a lifetime gig. No, seriously, I was immediately drawn to the project first because of Drew. I knew that Drew was going to be a part of it and I have always wanted to work with her in a very, very, very major way. And I think I might have already said yes to it and they were like, “Read the script.” When you do read the script, it’s one of those very unique and special projects where there’s a little bit of romance, a little bit of comedy, a little bit of drama and it doesn’t really fit into any realm that people are used to. And in doing that, it's really special storytelling. And the fact that all of it is true is incredible. It’s wild. I was just blown away by a bunch of people coming together for whales.
DB: I love collective experiences. There aren’t a lot of films that are diverse for a large group of people. We all wanted to be a part of something that makes us believe that good things happen in the world -- that people actually put aside their agendas and came together on something was really extraordinary. And the fact that there is levity to this really cool and weighty message makes it just a beautiful story where incredible things happen. And Ken Kwapis is one of the best directors I have ever worked with in my life. He’s so profoundly smart and insightful about how to approach every single tone in this movie... I knew this was going to be special, and I couldn’t believe I was going to get to be a part of it. Getting to watch it unfold every day- it continues to exceed my expectations.
So your character, Drew, is the go-getter, save-the-world type. What advice would you give to someone that wants to help out a cause?
DB: The woman I’m playing, Cindy Lowery stayed up 24 hours a day to accomplish her goal. Just do it. Nothing comes from just passion alone -- it comes from diligence. From a character perspective, it’s fun to play someone who is so righteous and stubborn and almost humorously petty in a way because she just has to do what she needs to do.
And for you, John, what was it like being on the other side of the industry -- playing a member of the press?
JK: It was actually one of the coolest parts about taking this role- to see the process that the press goes through in a huge story. My whole angle of doing research was the media itself and how much attention was placed on it. There is an extreme power in the knowledge that a certain amount of focus can make a huge, huge difference.
Big Miracle opens in theaters on February 3, 2012.
Additional Reporting by Keertana Sastry