He loves Count Chocula, can't be relied upon to keep track of the days of the week, claims he can raise (and lower) his cholesterol at will, comes from lineage that produces "very thirsty babies" and likens his dynamic with boss man Michael to "Butch Cassidy and Mozart." That, in a nutshell, is a passing look at The Office's Dwight Schrute, played as if he were born into the role by Rainn Wilson. TVGuide.com spoke with Wilson about his "brothers," Owen and Luke, the NBC comedy's new Thursday time slot and the truth about working with porn stars.
TVGuide.com: What should I watch out for now that The Office's Jenna Fischer (aka Pam) is blogging for TVGuide.com's Insider column? Is she trouble with a capital T, or what?
Rainn Wilson: She is, so look out. You guys got yourself into something there. No, she's lovely. She is such a sweetheart and she's really funny. She'll be great for you.
TVGuide.com: Her first entry got e-mailed in late, but we'll forgive her, if only because she's cute.
Wilson: Oh, good, good. Yeah, she is mighty cute.
TVGuide.com: Are you still shooting the film My Super Ex-Girlfriend?
Wilson: I'm actually back on the set of The Office, having wrapped on My Super Ex-Girlfriend. But the last couple of months I've been flying back and forth.
TVGuide.com: How did that work for you?
Wilson: Oh my god, it was brutal. One night, when we were shooting the "Booze Cruise" episode of The Office a night shoot I got off work at 5:30 in the morning, got on a 7 am plane to New York, and from 5:30 pm New York time I was shooting until 5 in the morning. I then flew back to L.A. and was shooting at 6 am on The Office.
TVGuide.com: Yikes. Are you on a first-name basis with the flight crew?
Wilson: It's funny because I kept flying with this one guy, and the last time I ran into him I was like, "So, do you fly on this for business?" He said, "Shhh..." and he showed me his federal marshal's badge.
TVGuide.com: That's a good person to sit next to! Unless, of course, you're on Lost.
Wilson: Yeah, exactly. But I got to know a marshal.
TVGuide.com: Tell me about My Super Ex-Girlfriend: What's it about, what are you doing in it?
Wilson: It is a comedy with Uma Thurman and Luke Wilson. Luke starts dating Uma and finds out that she is a superhero, and she torments him with her superpowers.
TVGuide.com: What sort of powers does a Super Ex-Girlfriend have?
Wilson: X-ray vision, superbreath, flying... all the basics.
TVGuide.com: It seems like she would have a "Nuclear Guilt Ray."
Wilson: That would be a nice one! I play Luke's best friend and his advisor, the world's worst advisor on anything to do with women. Ivan Reitman, who is like the godfather of American comedy, directed it. It was great working with him.
TVGuide.com: Are you now an unofficial member of the Luke Wilson-Owen Wilson-Ben Stiller-Steve Carell-Will Ferrell comedy posse?
Wilson: Well, I want to be the third Wilson brother now. It can be Luke, Owen and Rainn Wilson.
TVGuide.com: How fun was it channeling a Matt Drudge-type cyberwonk on HBO's Entourage?
Wilson: It was a lot of fun to do, mostly because I got to act with real-life porn stars.
TVGuide.com: Oh yeah, how were Jesse, Devon and Teagan?
Wilson: Wow, you know their names!
TVGuide.com: I looked up their names, only in the interest of professional research.
Wilson: Of course. Porn stars and nothing against those three per se, because they were all very nice look great when they're about 10 feet away, and then you start to get closer and then they don't look quite as hot. But they were very nice and it was fun asking Jesse all sorts of questions about the world of porn. She said Tommy Lee was the best she ever had.
TVGuide.com: Awww. That's rather romantic.
Wilson: Isn't that sweet? [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: When The Office followed My Name Is Earl from Tuesday to Thursday, was it met by the cast with anticipation, high hopes or dread?
Wilson: Well, some of all of those things. As soon as Earl became a hit, we all kind of anticipated that maybe they were going to move, because it was really NBC's only kind of "hit" show. We are really looking forward to it because it's a great time slot, but it's also scary as hell because, well, how many shows do we remember that played regularly at 9:30 on Thursdays? But we came out of the gate strong. It was interesting, because so many news sources were like "Earl a Bust!" while other ones were like "Earl Did Great!" It depends on how you look at it, but our numbers certainly went up a great deal, so it really helped us. I think the show is going to do really well. I think Dancing with the Stars is going to be one of those Who Wants to Be a Millionaire types of fly-by-night shows, so I'm not so worried about that, and I think we have a very different audience than CSI. They're the No. 1 show, god bless them, but younger people that maybe want to see something a little different can tune in to The Office and Earl.
TVGuide.com: In the blogs that B.J. Novak did for our Insider column, he painted a picture of a very collaborative set a lot of funny people, many with writing talent, all working to create as funny a show as possible.
Wilson: It really is like that. You can have ideas for scenes, alternate lines, they let you improvise.... It's really great that way. The director, the director of photography, the producers, everyone puts in their two cents. I'm just so lucky. You hear so many nightmare stories about stars who need to be treated a certain way and you can't be too funny with them around, but Steve Carell is like the sweetest guy on the planet.
TVGuide.com: Let's talk about Steve. I have a possibly controversial opinion: I believe that, post-The 40 Year Old Virgin, The Office is making Michael a little too handsome, not as slicked back and skeevy as he was last year. Will you join me in my conspiracy theory?
Wilson: That's interesting! He certainly lost a lot of weight from the first season to the second, and they definitely changed his hairstyle....
TVGuide.com: Yeah, it's a little "blow-dried" now.
Wilson: A little poofier. Definitely his look was changed a little bit, but I have no idea why that was. It might have been a network directive, because they changed a number of things from the first season. They made our lighting brighter and warmer Season 1 is really drab and the pacing is a little faster, Steve is a little warmed up.... Those all might have been coming from notes from on high.
TVGuide.com: But no drastic changes for Dwight.
Wilson: None whatsoever. Bad haircut, polyester, that's me.
TVGuide.com: What do we know thus far about Dwight's love life?
Wilson: Well, we know that Dwight is a playa. He had a little bit of a flirtation going with Kelly, the Indian girl, but that seems to have subsided. Now, he seems to be in a very secretive relationship with Angela, and the next few episodes are definitely going to be moving forward with that.
TVGuide.com: He's not going to dump her for some Dungeons & Dragons-playing type?
Wilson: Probably. But maybe not until Season 3.
TVGuide.com: How much Rainn Wilson is in Dwight and vice versa?
Wilson: You know, there's a ton of Rainn Wilson in Dwight, but at the same time I have to think I'm nothing like him. I was a total geek in high school at one point in time, I was in the marching band, computer club, chess club and Model United Nations but Dwight is much more than just a nerd. To me, Dwight is someone who has zero sense of humor about himself, and values authority and hierarchy above anything else.
TVGuide.com: Would you call him at all "evil"?
Wilson: No, he's not evil. He's just into rules. He would have made an excellent Nazi.
TVGuide.com: Is that you who actually writes Dwight's blogs for NBC.com?
Wilson: Yeah. It's an interesting puzzle, to try and get into character and think, "What would Dwight write about? How would he write about it? What is his voice like based on what the writers have given me, and how would that translate into him writing his own Internet thing?" It's an interesting challenge, but it is a lot of fun. I love reading the responses people have.
TVGuide.com: Some of the things he writes are so out of left field. Like, he'll interrupt an unrelated thought to say, "I like to think that I make love like an imperial storm trooper."
Wilson: Exactly. [Laughs] I'm going to use that line, by the way.