Rainn Wilson is an actor best known for his role as the egomaniacal Dwight Schrute in the NBC sitcom "The Office." He grew up in Seattle, Wash., as a member of the Baha'i faith, and attended NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. He is the founder of the Web site Soul Pancake (and the recently published book of the same name).
Question: What is one of the strangest real-world interactions that have resulted from your role as Dwight on "The Office?"
Rainn Wilson: One of my favorite memories of Dwight was being in the Detroit Airport and this really overweight, crazy-looking bedraggled baggage handler comes running up to me and he is like, “Yo, Dwight, Dwight, yo, yo.” And he is like running from a long distance and he is holding out his phone and I was like okay he is going to ask to take his picture and he holds up his phone right to my face and on it, it says, “I can and do cut my own hair.” And it says like, “From Katy.” And he goes, “You don’t understand. My daughter and I...” I don’t know why he talks like this. He is from Detroit. I don’t know why. Maybe he was from the Bronx or originally or it’s just my characterization. And he goes: “My daughter and I, we exchange Dwight texts all day long. It’s awesome. You’re awesome. You bring us together.” And that is what I think about is I think that doing comedy and playing Dwight is a service. Not to get grandiose about it, but I have a talent for playing oddball characters and I can make people laugh and that can help bring families together and people will really enjoy it and it puts a smile on their face and I think that is a really great thing. I try and remember that.
Question: Is it hard to play the same character for seven years in a row?
Rainn Wilson: Yeah, it’s an interesting challenge. We’ve done 139 episodes at this point or something like that and you have to remember at the beginning of each new episode this is fresh. This is... you’re discovering these moments for the first time. You can’t phone it in. You can’t clock it in. You need to keep things scintillating and in the moment and really listen and really kind of like tap back into those instincts of like what would Dwight do, how would Dwight look at this. You have to think as Dwight, see the world through Dwight’s eyes and it does definitely take a little focus and concentration to keep sustaining that.
Recorded November 11, 2010
Interviewed by David Hirschman
Directed & Produced by Jonathan Fowler