'Ex-Girlfriend' actor no stranger to dorks
By Susan King
Los Angeles Times
By Susan King
In a few short years, Rainn Wilson has become one of the busiest character actors working on television and film.
The tall, bespectacled Seattle native first came to attention as the eccentric mortuary intern Arthur Martin on HBO's "Six Feet Under" and currently provides a lot of the deadpan laughs in the NBC comedy series "The Office," based on the 2001 BBC hit. His Dwight Schrute, the officious, weasely assistant to the regional manager of a Scranton, Pa., paper-supply company, has spawned his own bobble-head, and Wilson writes Dwight's blog, which appears on www.nbc.com.
No stranger to feature films, Wilson has appeared in "Almost Famous," "Full Frontal" — as the first fired employee — and "Sahara."
In his latest feature film, "My Super Ex-Girlfriend," directed by Ivan Reitman of "Ghostbusters" fame, Wilson plays Vaughn, a loser with the ladies who believes he is a player.
Q. "The Office" isn't a traditional sitcom because the ruse is that a crew is filming a documentary. Does that make it difficult to find the right tone?
A. That actually makes it easier for me. I have never been able to book sitcoms — you know, brightly lit, multicamera standard sitcoms. I am just not so good at delivering funny punch lines. I am much better with character, environment and through-line. I find it much easier to lose yourself in Dwight and allow the cameras to capture that.
Q. I imagine it would be easy to lose yourself in Dwight because so many people working in offices are like him.
A. Oh, yeah. I think offices across this great nation are stocked with people like Dwight Schrute — self-important middle managers with bad haircuts.
Q. Dwight definitely has an odd coif — with the part in the middle and those curls around the bangs. Did you come up with that 'do?
A. I have a huge forehead and I wanted to show it off to the maximum comedic effect. And I definitely stole a little bit from Mackenzie Crook (he played the role in the British version), who also had a ridiculous kind of haircut.
Q. How did you come to write the Schrute-Space blog on the "Office" Web site?
A. They came to me and said, "Do you want to do a behind-the-scenes blog at 'The Office'?" But actually, when I first shot the pilot, I was doing a fake blog, and it was up on my computer screen and a producer saw it and said, "Dwight should have a blog." I think it's perfect for him — he would love to pontificate about boring and inane things.
Q. Your character Vaughn in "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" is another familiar office fixture.
A. Absolutely. There are a lot of guys who fancy themselves players. They are scattered around all of the big cities, and they give out the world's worst advice about women, sex and dating.
Q. What are Reitman's strengths as a comedy director?
A. He knows everything about comedy in terms of timing and how jokes work. He totally lets you improvise off of the script, but at the same time, if you start to get off track from what the scene is about or what the character wants, he very quickly brings you back to trying to make it all about the scene.
I am helping write a script for his production company; right now it's tentatively called "A Girlfriend Experience." It's about an Internet billionaire who hires a prostitute to be his girlfriend. That is for myself to be in.
Q. So you get to play sort of the romantic lead?
A. Maybe the most offbeat romantic lead we have ever seen.
Q. Have you ever played a regular Joe?
A. I guess I am thinking back to "House of 1000 Corpses" ... I am kind of a normal guy there who is brutally hacked to pieces. But you know, I started out in theater and did a ton of roles ... that were pretty normal guys.