Rainn Wilson, best known for playing Dwight Schrute in The Office, joined Boston Public radio to talk about his new memoir The Bassoon King, his website Soulpancake, and of course The Office.
Questions are paraphrased, and responses are edited where noted [...].
Do you resent still being identified as Dwight?
"I think it would be a dreadful mistake for any actor who’s really known by one principle role that kind of put them on the map to escape the severe identification with that role because...I wouldn’t have a career if it wasn’t for Dwight. I owe so much, so many doors have opened from doing it. I loved being part one of the the great American Comedies and playing such a beloved character and I love it. At the same time, it is a little bit of a struggle as an actor, to be honest, to kind of get known, you know I was doing lots of different characters before I was playing Dwight."
How has religion played a role in your life?
"It is a big part of my life. It wasn’t always. I left it for a long time, that’s a big part of the book. I turned my back on all things having to do with faith. I became an atheist and wanted nothing to do with religion, and kind of my journey back to faith is a big part of the story."
Why did you chose to play the Bassoon?
"I actually got coerced. I was a clarinet player and I wanted to switch to saxophone, and the band teacher was like, ‘we have to many saxophone players,’ he really conned me. He did a con on a 13-year-old. He was like, ‘hey you know what’s a really unique instrument, you know what would be really be special and cool and awesome?’ ‘What, what would be so special and cool and awesome,’ and he’s like, ‘ the bassoon.’ I was like 'great sign me up.' So I spent five years playing the Bassoon in band. I call it in my book, my nerd crucifix."
When did you know the office was going to be huge hit?
We were on the verge of cancelation so many different times. We barely hung on by the skin of our teeth. It was crazy. Our first season was only six episodes long and then the second season they ordered five more, and then like three more, and then like two more, and we were just inching by, inching by. I think when we knew was, there were a number of different factors, but there was a big poster hung up outside of NBC of our show and we were like oh, that’s something. That was the same time that itunes started selling TV shows and they had video ipods… and all of a sudden we were number one. Why is that? Young people were flocking to our show and they realized they had a really avid young audience for our show, which really surprised us because we thought we were making a show for people that had experience working in offices. What is with the fact that 16 year-olds love The Office. It’s smart, subtle, wry humor, uncomfortable humor about people in the work place, and yet teenagers and college kids were our number one audience.
Listen to the interview with Rainn Wilson above.