Most people know John Krasinski best as the actor who played affable paper salesman Jim Halpert on The Office. However, A Quiet Place, which premiered on April 6 in the United States, is Krasinski's directorial debut, and the film is already making waves: it led the box office with a gross of $50 million on its opening weekend, and has enjoyed positive reviews from critics and audiences alike (it has a 97% Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes).
When he was in the process of casting his first feature film, Krasinski had more than a good story in mind—he was also very conscious of accurate representation in his casting. In the film, Krasinski's character's daughter is deaf, and the director insisted she be played by a deaf actress.
During the casting process, Krasinski pushed for deaf actress Millicent Simmonds.
Simmonds made her debut in 2017's Wonderstruck, which was also acclaimed by critics. Though only 14 years old, she's already an advocate for the deaf community. In October 2017, she told People:
I want to see more deaf people have the opportunity to become actors. And I want [hearing people] to know that it's okay to learn ASL. 98, maybe 99% of deaf children with hearing parents, their parents do not learn sign language and the children are forced to speak and lip-read. At my school, I see all the deaf children who are frustrated because their parents don't sign and they don't communicate with them well. The oral approach to lip read and speak is very anti-sign language and I want to say, learn sign language first. It's very easy for everyone to learn. No one is judging you and it'll be an amazing experience.
Scott Beck, one of the film's writers, told Huffpost what it was like having Millicent on board.
We always had a deaf character in the script, but John really pushed for them to hire Millicent. She came to set and taught everyone sign language. It was really amazing and brought an extra depth to the film.
In A Quiet Place, monsters roam a post-apocalyptic world and hunt anything that makes even the quietest sound. Simmonds plays the daughter of Emily Blunt and John Krasinski (who happen to be married in real life), who must raise their two children in complete silence while also preparing for the birth of a third.