JOHN KRASINSKI fumbled as a football player in junior high school.
"I played one year organized football . . . and it was only one year because I wasn't very good," says the lanky 28-year-old best known as the sales rep Jim on NBC's "The Office." But that hasn't kept him away from the pigskin. "I have played tackle football with my friends all my life," he adds.
So when George Clooney cast him in his screwball football comedy, "Leatherheads," opening April 4, Krasinski "finally felt like the hero of the backyard game where the clock is ticking down and you are running through the field and you score a touchdown. I thank George for giving me all my childhood fantasies back."
A throwback to the vintage snappy patter comedies of Preston Sturges and Howard Hawks, "Leatherheads" casts Krasinski as Carter Rutherford, a World War I hero and college football star who is recruited to play on a struggling professional football team.
Clooney, who also directs, plays the aging star of the team; Renee Zellweger plays a journalist pursued by both men.
"It's tough to vie for any woman when you are around George Clooney," Krasinski says, laughing. The actor says the comedy in "Leatherheads" is far more frenetic than the dry, low-key humor of "The Office."
"I think it's a different type of comedy than what we have seen in a while in movies," he says. "It sort of breathes this Americana . . . you sort of feel like you were back when all was well and everything was good."
-- Susan King