Having spent over seven years as a member of the cast of the NBC sitcom “The Office,” Rainn Wilson is known almost universally for his role as egomaniac Dwight Schrute. This is why the actor says he felt it was important to get on Twitter—to let people know who he really is.
“I just realized all of the sudden, like, everything thinks I’m Dwight … that I’m this kind of annoying, difficult, nerdy, creepy guy. And they don’t know Rainn Wilson,” he says in his Big Think interview. “Although I’m a little bit nerdy, annoying and creepy, I’m not as much as Dwight Schrute. And it’s a way for them to get to know my sense of humor and my passion projects.”
One of those passion projects is Soul Pancake, a Web site Wilson co-founded to ask big questions and foster creativity. The site grew in part out of his own spiritual journey, which began when he was growing up as a member of the Baha’i faith in Seattle. He talks about how his upbringing influenced the way he sees the world, and about how he lost his spiritual connection while struggling as a young actor in New York—as well as some of the reasons why people get creatively blocked.
Wilson also talks about what it’s like to play Dwight on “The Office,” saying that he considers it “a service” and describing how he was once accosted by a baggage handler at an airport who sent Dwight quotes as text messages to his daughter as a form of communication. He also talks about how Dwight has evolved as a character over the course of the series, and about why the awkward, embarrassing humor of the show is so funny.
“It seems that Ricky Gervais was able to just capitalize almost on a generational shift with an understanding that so much of the comedy is not in the set up, set up, punch line,” says Wilson. “There is very few ‘jokes’ on our show. It really is behavior, characters behaving and the reactions to that behavior.”