TODAY | December 03, 2012
>>> throw in the towel as an actor, they say, until coming into the role of nice guy jim halperin on nbc's hit show "the office." john is not acting in his new movie " promised land " and co-wrote the screenplay and is one of the producers. good to see you.
>> good to see you, too.
>> i read this story about this, and you tell me if this is one of the great pr stories, you're having wife with your wife emily and matt damon because they were working on a movie together and you brought up this project and he said i'm instantly in.
>> he was like i'm ready to direct, do you have anything you might want to work on, and i said, yeah, this thing, and i handed it to him.
>> you happened to have it with you?
>> a document, not at dinner, the next morning, writing right away. loved the idea and something he wanted to direct. turning out later he couldn't do it scheduling-wise.
>> a lot to do, taking on producing and co-writing and acting.
>> turns out it is. i thought it would be fine. it's terrifying. no, we went -- he was actually shooting "we bought a zoo" out in california and i drove to his house every weekend. wins by default with four girls so that's a very busy how is that i have to go to him and we wrote with children climbing all over him and he was doing bath time and dinner and everything and still got it done.
>> give people a sense of the plot. you play an visualist and he plays a guy who would love a town to agree to drilling in the town and you clash a bit.
>> he's working for a guy that works for an energy company trying to lease land so they can drill for natural gas and i'm the environmentalist that doesn't think it's a good idea.
>> you go up against each other over the issue of drilling and over the issue of a girl, and are you asking audiences to suspend their belief system. you're fighting for a girl with the former sexiest man in the world
>> i thought were you going to say suspend their disbelief that i couldn't win.
>> exactly, exactly. i've got to not do this anymore, no, yeah. when he -- going up against a sexiest man alive, i don't like the word alive . i think there were other sexy men. it's a real challenge, but i rose to it.
>> matt is here a little later in the week. i don't know whether it's just in the studio here, seems like one of the most absolute normal down-to-earth actors.
>> just on the studio.
>> he's the nicest guy in the world to the point where i don't understand how he leaves a restaurant or walks down the street, only because if anybody says hi to him he'll basically sit down and have a cup of coffee if you have to talk about it.
>> i know that we should talk about the past a little bit, so when matt damon and ben affleck teamed up several years back and co-wrote a project, it ended up in a photo that looked something like this, okay?
>> the academy award , " goodwill hunting ."
>> you brought a picture this morning that i'm asking you to explain. what is it that you wanted to us get from this picture?
>> oh, god, ben's going to love that.
>> is that the way you hope it will turn out in a couple of months?
>> first that picture happens and then i go direct "argo 2" which won't be as successful as the first one but i'll give it a shot.
>> you're in the process of wrapg wrapping up "the office "ninth season. is it true that you were going to call it quits in acting before that role came along?
>> i got out of theater school and said to my mom i'm going to move to new york to be an actor and she said the greatest thing. you know what, great, but if after two and a half, three years, if you don't have a little bit of a bite, not a feeling that it's going to work out, you have to full yourself out of it because as your mom i can't ask you to give up on your dreams, the greatest advice ever and around september, two and a half years later i said i don't think it's going to work out and she said just ride it out, finish the year, you've been doing great and then i got "the office" so i owe my mom 10%.
>> for the young actors who may be looking now, what kept you going during those two and a half years?
>> so cliche, but honestly i had the best time in the world doing the waitering thing and casting director's assistant so i read the other parts with any actor that came in. i loved learning about anything i could with the business, and so that really is the fun stuff that, you know, you go to a bar with your friends, all doing, it too, talk about the struggle and barely paying rent, something romantic about that is correct only for two and a half years.
>> have you thought what might have been your life today had you not gotten that role on "the office?"
>> to the point where it gets scary. i wouldn't have met my life, not been out in l.a. and truly that i say the show has given me everything, it's given me everything.
>> we've enjoyed watching you over the nine seasons and continued success. this movie is called " promised land ," and by the way, matt damon will be here tomorrow, and the movie opens up december 28th . thanks, john.
>> just ahead, meredith viera helps us get ready for the christmas holiday . after your local news.