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The following story contains mild spoilers for a scene in Disneynature's documentary Born in China. You have been warned!
Walt Disney Studios never shies away from killing off parents, particularly animals. Bambi's mother, Simba's father... they all met the darkest fate in movies that are aimed at children, so we shouldn't be totally shocked to learn that an animal loses her life in the upcoming documentary Born in China. In a difficult scene to watch, a mother snow leopard dies while hunting to try and feed her starving children. It's a tough scene to watch... and a nearly impossible scene to narrate, from an emotional standpoint, according to John Krasinski.
The former star of NBC's The Office hopped on the phone recently to discuss his role as the narrator of Born in China. And while John Krasinski told me that he knew he could never get to what he calls "the Morgan Freeman status" as a narrator, he tried to make the movie feel as real, as intense and as credible as the situations needed to be. That included the death scene, where Krasinski explained to me:
Oh man, that is brutal. Narrating a death, I have to say, that is really difficult. And we worked on it a few times. ... The best sort of direction that you can get, I think, is from a director who is as confident being wrong as they are being right. And I think that these guys were so cool in leading me down different paths for that moment. And then saying, 'That didn't quite work' or 'Let's try this' and 'That sounded cool, but maybe we can do better.' They just take it so seriously. You're not out in one take. They want to make sure that this feels not only emotional, but respectful. Because these are characters that you actually become really intertwined with and fall in love with. So I think that death scene was very real. It was not facsimile at all.
Earlier in my conversation with John Krasinski, he explained why Disneynature -- who has been making these nature documentaries for years -- avoids giving voices to the animals or turning them into comical creations. It's all about striving to infuse realism into the situations portrayed on screen in movies like Earth, Oceans, Chimpanzee and the new Born in China. You can hear Krasinski's narration in this clip, provided to us by Disneynature: