The Office is finally back after a strike-mandated hiatus. At least we get six more new ones before the end of the season. There just wasn’t enough Dwight to get us through the summer. Now we have a little bit more Dwight for you, as Rainn Wilson talks about the remainder of the season and his upcoming movie The Rocker, and improvises a little Dwight-like comedy.
Crave Online: Will Dwight get a new love interest now that Angela has moved on?
Rainn Wilson: I don’t know, that gets into some dangerous territory there. I improvised in the audition for the pilot. We had an improvisation of me and Jenna, and I told her that I had an ex-girlfriend who was stationed in
Crave Online: She’s pregnant in real life. Could that play out on the show?
Rainn Wilson: Angela is like a little person swallowed a watermelon. Everything about her looks exactly the same except she has this enormous tummy. I think all of her scenes from here on out are going to be staged with her behind the copy machine.
Crave Online: Where is Dwight in the dinner party episode?
Rainn Wilson: Well, you have to tune in on April 10 to find out. It’s amazing what happens. It’s going to rock your world.
Crave Online: How did you spend the break during the writer’s strike?
Rainn Wilson: 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 families of
Crave Online: What was the first day back like?
Rainn Wilson: It has been a huge love fest. It’s it’s kind of crazy. It doesn’t make for great print journalism, but I will say that it’s like our other family and our other family got together, like at a big family reunion and it’s been really, really fun. We’ve had a blast these first two weeks. It is great to see everyone again and batteries were definitely recharged.
Crave Online: Is it tough to get back into character as Dwight?
Rainn Wilson: You know, there’s like ten minutes when it’s like okay, wait, who is this guy again, right? And then, I just put on the calculator watch and the glasses, and just be all inappropriate. Then it just works out fine. You go right back in the flow.
Crave Online: Has your three year old seen The Office?
Rainn Wilson: Yeah, 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, playing with a train or a ball or hitting one of our dogs with a golf club. But yes, it’s pretty normal for him. There’s also a Dwight bobblehead up on the shelf, which he used to really be into. Now he couldn’t care less about it.
Crave Online: What does your wife think of Dwight?
Rainn Wilson: We actually play funny sex games of Dwight and she will pretend to be anyone else in The Office pretty much, depending. We have outfits for all of the different characters. No, this is going to be all over the media. Probably the worst thing I could have said. Yeah, I don’t really tend to bring Dwight home with me so much because I would say we’re not too much alike. My wife has a great, absurd sense of humor and she really appreciates me playing weirdoes and oddballs and she is a novelist.
Crave Online: Has she ever expressed interest in like writing for The Office or anything like that?
Rainn Wilson: Yes, she has written a 400-page spec script. It’s very prose-heavy. It’s written from the perspective of Oscar’s boyfriend, Gil. In it he’s suffering from emphysema. It’s very moving. It’s very, very, very sad.
Crave Online: If Dunder Mifflin went on strike, what would Dwight be doing during that time?
Rainn Wilson: Boy, that’s a good question. If Dunder Mifflin went on strike, you know what Dwight would do? Dwight would join the Pinkertons and he would immediately try and bust the strike. And he’d work for management. He’d go to corporate headquarters and figure out a way to bust up the union, maybe kind of join as a secret under a different identity and rabble rouse, and be a counteragent. He would love to join the Pinkertons, wear one of those hats, maybe carry a derringer and be a badass.
Crave Online: What is your movie The Rocker about?
Rainn Wilson: 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. 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.
Crave Online: Did you have a musical background before?
Rainn Wilson: I do have a musical background. I played a lot of musical instruments in high school and in college and still do, but I really enjoyed learning and playing the drums. 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
Crave Online: What did you grow up playing?
Rainn Wilson: 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.
Crave Online: No tuba?
Rainn Wilson: I played a little bit of tuba. We played baritone. But tuba was too hard. Pretty much every comic, every clown instrument, I learned, anything having to do with getting a laugh. Then the recorder, oddly enough, for the show The Office where Dwight plays recorder and guitar whenever they need some musical accompaniment.
Crave Online: What research you did to prepare for your role and how much hair metal was actually in your collection before you took on the role?
Rainn Wilson: I had a lot of hair metal, growing up in the ’80s. It was kind of inescapable, although I was more of a punk and new wave fan than a hair metal. I went to high school at a hair metal high school in Shorecrest, suburban Seattle, and I heard a lot of Ratt and Cinderella, and Whitesnake. My research was we had a drum coach who had been in a hair metal band and when we played the drums, he really had me play in a metal way. He didn’t just teach me the time structures. It was about how a metal drummer sits behind the kit on the throne and how they interact with the crowd, and get the crowd going. And kind of how they used the double bass drum and a lot of specifics that speak to a metal drummer. Then I got to go and saw Rush. They’re not really a hair metal band, but I got to see them on their warm-up for their tour and got to meet Neil Peart who is probably the greatest drummer of all time. He let me sit behind his kit and play it. So I was initiated in the world of drumming.
Crave Online: Looking at all your roles, how do you go from a very quiet mortician to an Eighties metal drummer in The Rocker?
Rainn Wilson: You know, it’s the power of acting. All I’ll say is tha I went to theater acting school where one day you’re playing Hamlet and then the next day you’re doing a very serious contemporary drama and then you’re doing improv. I come from just a school of thought that part of what acting is, is transformation. And you always use yourself, draw on yourself. But you have the ability to transform into characters and that’s what acting has always been about. I like playing extreme characters but I like to think that I could also play a more normal guy if I had to. I mean, if you look at just my TV and film stuff that I’ve done, it’s been a lot of psychos and superheroes and uptight guys. And crazy guys.
Crave Online: Have you ever worked in an office when the acting work got thin?
Rainn Wilson: Well, I’ve worked in many offices before in my
Crave Online: Did it ever drive you mad?
Rainn Wilson: 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. Recently we’ve kept ourselves entertained by doing Brian Baumgartner imitations and coaxing Ed Helms to do all of his imitations. He does an incredible Tom Brokaw and we love to have him say albondigas, the soup albondigas as Tom Brokaw and here’s my imitation of Ed Helms saying albondigas as Tom Brokaw.
Crave Online: Have you ever been to
Rainn Wilson: Really it’s a lovely town. Like there are big old buildings, 100 years old, all over the downtown, big brick buildings that have a really cool industrial look, and a lot of iron work. There’s beautiful hills all around
Crave Online: They’re doing an Office spin-off now. If they did one for Dwight, what would The Dwight Show be?
Rainn Wilson: I think it would be like in the ’70s, what was the one that Dennis Weaver was on a horse and something? McCloud. McCloud was a fish-out-of-water cop in
Crave Online: Say something for us in Schrutinese.
Rainn Wilson: I’m going to confess something that I have passed over the reigns of Schrutespace to one of the staff writers this season. He’s been coming up with some really great stuff so I haven’t caught up with that one yet.
Crave Online: How did you enjoy writing the blogs when you did them?
Rainn Wilson: I loved writing them. As I said, I kind of passed the torch off to one of the writers this year. I just was getting too busy and too much on my plate. There’s a lot more press obligations and I’m working on some screenplays and stuff like that, but it was really fun. I think I was the first person to ever do a blog in character from a TV show. I could be wrong. I don’t want to take credit for something that I don’t deserve. I think the blog was the perfect outlet for Dwight because blogs are probably the first terrible creation of the 21st Century. You know, as people write about what movies they rented and what happened when they went to the drycleaners. I think Dwight would just loves to hold forth with a captive audience so blogging was a perfect extension of the character.