Fact: Rainn Wilson is nothing like his character, Dwight Schrute, from NBC’s hit television series “The Office”. In fact, until Rainn puts on Dwight’s calculator watch and glasses that rival coke bottles, he is as normal as you and I. Rainn has no problem leaving Dwight Schrute at “The Office”.
Born in Seattle, Washington, Rainn Wilson was raised by a yoga instructing actress and a business consulting writer (how’s that for comedy!?!) Rainn’s theatre background flourished at Tufts University and the University of Washington, where he also taught acting classes before making it big in Hollywood.
These days Rainn Wilson’s acting credits include: starring as Dwight Schrute on “The Office”; appearances on several top rated TV shows; hosting SNL; lead roles in the films Almost Famous, America’s Sweethearts, Galaxy Quest, House of 1000 Corpses, Sahara, The Last Mimzy and Juno just to name a few. Rainn’s next film “The Rocker” is due out this summer and promises not to disappoint.
We were able to delve into the life of Rainn Wilson and find out more about this multi-talented, bassoon playing office worker who we all know as Dwight Schrute.
1) Have you ever worked in an office – even if only as a temp when the acting work got thin? And if so, what kind of office worker were you? Were you a Dwight or a Jim, or a Ryan, or what?
RW: Well kind of – I’ve worked in many offices before in my New York days of being a starving actor. I worked for a major New York charity as Assistant Office Manager and Special Events Coordinator. And then I was also a Receptionist from the Pam Beesly mold at Kirshenbaum, Bond & Partners, an advertising agency in New York.
2) So you were the office Pam?
RW: I was Pam. So I’ve done a lot of those things. I guess I was most like a Jim because my heart really wasn’t into it. But I was also very capable, which is a lot like Jim. And I was pretty decent in my office work, too. I was not very good at Marine Supply delivery which I did for about eight months at (Ballard Marine Supply & Hardware). I got in a couple car accidents and kept losing stuff.
3) I find a lot of creative people who go slightly mad when they’re in office or corporate jobs. What is your opinion about that or from your own personal experiences?
RW: That’s a great question. Yeah. You know, we all go a little bit mad even in the office setting, about eight hours into sitting under those fluorescent lights on the set of The Office. And surfing the web, and there’s only so many times you can check CNN.com to see if a bomb has gone off somewhere. We start to go a little bit stir crazy and things start to get out of hand. So I think that is true.
4) Can you talk a little bit about how you spent your break during the writer’s strike and what the first day back was like?
RW: I did a little bit of picketing. I played a lot with my three and a half year old son, which was good. I think the strike was terribly painful for the working families of Los Angeles, but it was also great for them. And I went to Israel and I did some writing. And I worked on my backhand with my Zen tennis coach.
5) And what was the first day back like?
RW: You know, it’s been – it has been a huge love fest. It’s like – it’s kind of crazy. It doesn’t make for great print journalism, but I will say that our other family got together. And it’s like a big family reunion and it’s been really, really fun. And we’ve had a blast these first two weeks. It is great to see everyone again and batteries were definitely recharged.
6) I know you go through it every summer, but is it tough after a break to get back into being Dwight?
RW: You know there’s like ten minutes when it’s like “okay, wait, who is this guy again?” And then, you know, I just put on the calculator watch and the glasses, and just be all, you know, inappropriate. And then it just works out fine. You go right back in the flow.
7) So, Dwight, your former lady love — Angela — is now pregnant and very much showing. How is she going to deal with that when the show returns?
Angela is like – it’s like a little person that swallowed a watermelon. And everything about her looks exactly the same except she has this enormous tummy. And I think all of her scenes from here on out are going to be staged with her behind the copy machine.
8) You have a three and a half year old son, and I was actually wondering what he thinks of The Office.
RW: Yeah, you know, occasionally I’ll be up on the TV screen for whatever reason – if I’m like watching myself from some talk show appearance or an episode of The Office is playing, or something like that. And he says, “that’s dada”. And then he goes back to whatever it was that he was doing.
There’s also a Dwight bobblehead up on the shelf, which he used to really be into. Now he just – he couldn’t care less about it.
9) Can you tell us about your movie that is coming out soon “The Rocker”? And also, do you have a musical background yourself?
RW: Oh, gosh. Well thanks for asking about my movie. The Rocker stars George Clooney as a heavy metal singer. No it doesn’t. I don’t have George Clooney in my movie.
The Rocker is a very funny movie. I saw it and it’s where I play a former heavy metal drummer from an up and coming heavy metal band. And I get kicked out of the heavy metal band right before they make it really big.
And then 20 years later, my life has kind of gone nowhere and I get a second shot at fame by joining my high school nephew’s garage rock band. So I wear a nice heavy metal wig and I reveal a lot of my butt crack and my torso.
And we rock out and I actually learned to play the drums for the movie. I do have a musical background. I played a lot of musical instruments in high school and in college – and still do.
And – but I really enjoyed learning and playing the drums. And it’s a really sweet – if there’s such a thing as a sweet family rock and roll comedy, this is it. It’s kind of like School of Rock with teenagers.
10) And what were those instruments that you grew up playing?
RW: Well I started on piano and then clarinet. And then saxophone and bassoon. Then xylophone or bells and baritone in the pep band. And then guitar. Every clown instrument, I learned – anything having to do with getting a laugh.
Catch Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute every Thursday at 9/8c on NBC. For more info on Rainn Wilson, go to www.nbc.com.