How John Krasinski Pays Tribute to Tina Turner — and His Mom — in His Movie “IF” (Exclusive)

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The actor-director says his mother Mary is a big fan of the late singer

<p>Mike Coppola/Getty; Christian Charisius/picture alliance via Getty</p> John Krasinski and Tina Turner

Mike Coppola/Getty; Christian Charisius/picture alliance via Getty

John Krasinski and Tina Turner

John Krasinki thinks Tina Turner is, well, simply the best.

The actor, writer and director, 44, features the late icon’s 1984 hit “Better Be Good to Me” in multiple scenes of his new movie IF, a fantastical tale about 12-year-old girl (Cailey Fleming) who can see other kids’ imaginary friends.

The combination live-action and animated movie stars Krasinski and Ryan Reynolds and features the voice work of George Clooney, Steve Carell, Emily Blunt, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Matt Damon and many others.

Krasinski tells PEOPLE he wanted to use the music of Turner, who died last year on May 24 at age 83, to honor the singer as well as nod to his mother Mary, who remains a big fan of her music.

“Tina Turner was one of my mom's favorites, still is one of her favorites,” says Krasinski, who grew up in Massachusetts. “My mom has got a great sense of music, and we always used to listen to a bunch of different things, but I remember vividly dancing in the kitchen to Tina Turner.”

<p>Getty</p> Tina Turner in 1997


Tina Turner in 1997

Related: John Krasinski Shares How His Kids’ Imaginary Friends Inspired the Family Movie IF (Exclusive)

“I just remember Tina Turner being such a big deal for me. I was a big Tina Turner fan, so I thought, ‘I should put that in for my mom,’ ” he continues.

In the film, a younger version of the character Bea (Audrey Hoffman) dances around in her house to the song, a scene which Krasinski calls “beautiful.” Later, Bea joins a slew of imaginary friends for an elaborate dance sequence along with actress Ari Groover playing Tina Turner herself.

<p>Courtesy of Paramount Pictures</p> Cailey Fleming and the imaginary friends in 'IF' dancing to Tina Turner

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Cailey Fleming and the imaginary friends in 'IF' dancing to Tina Turner

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Krasinski says Groover, who portrayed Turner in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical on Broadway, was a complete pro who knew what to do without any instruction.

"It was one of those things where I had all these directions of what I wanted to do, and as soon as we started, I went, ‘So you got this? It looks like you got this,’” he says.

He adds that Turner’s estate has been “so supportive” regarding giving permission to use her music.

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“I can only dream of how tricky it must be to lend your music,” he says. “But they have been so sweet about what a celebration this is of her music and her being a celebration of imagination.”

Krasinski, who shares daughters Hazel, 10, and Violet, 7, with wife Blunt, 41, says the movie is based, in part, on watching his own girls play with imaginary friends and  “disappear into a magical world that we, as parents, aren’t allowed into.”

IF is in theaters now.

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