Rainn Wilson On Acting, Spirituality, Failure And Playing Dwight Schrute

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Rainn Wilson at the WBUR studios. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Rainn Wilson at the WBUR studios. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Actor Rainn Wilson is perhaps best known for playing Dwight Schrute of NBC's "The Office."

Here's how Dwight describes himself in "three words": "Hard working. Alpha male. Jackhammer. Merciless. Insatiable."

But the real Rainn Wilson emerges as a kind of anti-Dwight in his new memoir, "The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith and Idiocy" — a man of faith, spirituality, contemplation and love.


Rainn Wilson, actor and author of "The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith and Idiocy." He tweets @rainnwilson.

Interview Highlights

On a memoir that's an ode to love of all kinds:

Rainn Wilson: "There's a lot of exploration in this. When I pitched the book, I said 'Listen, there's going to be some stuff that's going to be spiritual in here. And I'm going to strive for some profundity, and I've got to share some deep dark truths about my life. Warts and all kind of stuff. And make myself really vulnerable. And there's going to be some big ideas in it.' And the publishers weren't scared so ... I don't know that I succeeded, but I swung for the fences on this one. I wanted it to be really funny, but I also wanted it to be as profound as I could make it."

On the 'mystical experience' he had that inspired him to become an actor:

RW: "I was trying to decide whether to become an actor or not. And really, cause I knew, cause my dad was a failed artist. He wanted to paint, and he wanted to write, and it never worked out for him. I knew that if you wanted to be a professional artist — I didn't know any professional artists — I imagined you would have to devote 10, 15, 20 years to it. That you have to dive in completely, and that was a very scary thing for me at 19 years old. I was trying to decide whether to go to India with my friend, who was going to travel for a year, or to go to acting school, maybe go to New York and really like dive into the whole acting thing. And my decision was kind of made by going to this matinee of a chorus line right here in Boston.

On the valuable perspective he gained writing his own memoir:

RW: "It's an interesting exercise to write one's memoir. I firmly believe everyone should do it. And you look back on my 49 years, and I see these weigh points, these special little hinge moments that without which I wouldn't have the life that I have. It all adds up to something but there are these turning points. Do they feel divine at the time? I don't know, sometimes. They certainly didn't seem as profound as looking back on them I realized they were."


Fast Company: The Rainn Wilson Guide To Success

  • "For someone with such a unique place in the vast celebrity galaxy, Rainn Wilson often operates with what he admits is a rather clichéd approach: "The harder you work, the luckier you get."

The Hollywood Reporter: Rainn Wilson On Art, Faith And Keeping Dwight Schrute Alive (Q&A)

  • "In his new memoir, 'The Bassoon King,' the actor reveals himself to be much more than one of the greatest sidekicks of all time."

Chicago Sun-Times: Rainn Wilson's Memoir Captures Essence Of His Offbeat Humor

  • "When Rainn Wilson started out to write his new memoir, 'The Bassoon King,' there was one thing he definitely did not want to do. 'I’ve read a lot of disappointing celebrity biographies,' the actor from TV’s 'The Office' said in a recent call.'"

This segment aired on November 11, 2015.


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