The first thing you have to wonder as Rainn Wilson — aka The Office's Dwight Schrute — disappears into his big-screen role as The Rocker (in theaters today), is whether he boasts a wealth of experience as a music man. "I got to thankfully live through the shortest-lived high school band ever, Collected Moss," he shares. "We played two gigs. One was for a batch of 11-year-olds, and the other was for a battle of the bands which we didn't even get into."
"That," he emphasizes, "is how bad we were."
Nonetheless, Wilson says it just took two sticks and a kit to find his rhythm as Robert "Fish" Fishman, an almost-very famous drummer who begrudgingly joins his teenaged nephew's band. "The first thing I started to do was take drum lessons, and that totally opened my mind to who this guy was," says Wilson. "When you drum, you're just loud and you're just pounding away. It's all about putting on the big show, and when you get in that mindset — the sweat, the drumming, the ugly face — Fish became clear to me."
Comparing his feature film character to his NBC sitcom goof, he says that while both guys like rock music, "Dwight listens to metal purely as a motivational tool, to increase the blood flow to his brain. Fish just wants to have a good time. They both have a love of metal, unflattering haircuts and not the best wardrobes, but they're pretty different characters."
There's also the matter that, save for The Office's most recent season finale, Dwight is usually clothed, whereas a pivotal moment finds Fish splashed across the Internet, doing his thing while not wearing a thing. That viral infamy as "The Naked Drummer" catapults the high-school band into national fame. "You can see the Naked Drummer footage on YouTube. My a-- crack is all over the airwaves," Wilson admits. Asked how it felt to go au natural on behalf of his craft, he answers: "It felt very sticky. But whatever. I'll take my clothes off right now! It's just a body."