The Office Dwight
"I would describe my look as lantern-jawed, rugged, and chiseled... Oh, wait - that's Mark Harmon. I'm gangly and freakish. Put it this way: My looks go hand in hand with the characters I usually play. It's all in the hair." Rainn Wilson
Starting out with The Acting Company and Arena Stage, Emmy-nominated and three-time Screen Actors Guild Award winning actor Rainn Wilson first appeared on TV as Casey Keegan (1997) in the ABC soap opera “One Life to Live.” He would later gained even more recognition while portraying Arthur Martin (2003-2005), the odd mortician intern and the love interest to Francis Conroy's Ruth Fisher, on HBO's “Six Feet Under,” and playing Dwight Schrute, the obnoxious sales rep in NBC’s comedy hit “The Office” (2005-Present).
He also has guest starred in such popular TV series as "Charmed," "Dark Angel," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Monk," "Numb3rs," "Entourage," and hosted a 2007 episode of "Saturday Night Live."
Meanwhile, moviegoers could catch him in the films "Galaxy Quest" (1999), "Almost Famous" (2000), "America's Sweethearts" (2001), "Full Frontal" (2002), "House of 1000 Corpses" (2003), "How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your A**" (2003), "Sahara" (2005), "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" (2006), "The Last Mimzy" (2007) and "Juno" (2007). Next, he will play the lead role in an upcoming comedy movie called "The Rocker."
On a more personal note, the 6' 3½" character actor has been married to fiction writer Holiday Reinhorn since 1995. They have one son born in 2004.
Childhood and Family:
In Seattle, Washington, Rainn Dietrich Wilson was born on January 20, 1968, to Shay Cooper, a yoga teacher and actress, and Robert G. Wilson, a writer and business consultant. Young Wilson went to Kellogg Middle School and Shorecrest High School in Shoreline, Washington. He then transferred and graduated from New Trier H.S. in Winnetka, Illinois, where his family moved. During high school, Wilson played clarinet and bassoon in the school's band.
Wilson attended college at Tufts University and the University of Washington before studying acting at New York University's (NYU) graduate acting program. He received his MFA in acting from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in 1989. He has taught acting classes and was a member of The Acting Company.
Wilson married Holiday Reinhorn, a fiction writer, in 1995. They met in an acting class in college and married on the Kalama River. Their first child, a son named Walter Mckenzie Wilson, was born in 2004. Wilson and his family are members of the Baha'i Faith. They currently reside in Agoura Hills, California.
Wilson is also a lead activist for universal education, particularly with girls in America and abroad. Recently, he worked on behalf of the Mona Foundation, which works to support educational initiatives and improve the status of women and children around the world.
When asked if his Baha’i faith affected his choice in becoming involved with the organization, Wilson explained, "The Mona Foundation certainly shares a lot of priorities with the Baha’i faith. One of the most important teachings of the Baha’i faith is universal education. Baha’is believe that’s actually a spiritual imperative for human kind. We need to educate women and girls and the equality of men and women is also a very important spiritual principle in the Baha’i faith, so these were all in alignment."
Six Feet Under
With an MFA degree in acting from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts under his belt, Rainn Wilson signed up with The Acting Company and Arena Stage for several years, appearing in "Long Day's Journey Into Night" at the Arena Stage and performed at the Guthrie and Public Theater venues as well. He also performed off-Broadway in William Shakespeare's earliest tragedy “Titus Andronicus,” Shakespeare's comedy “Twelfth Night” and “Venus,” as well as on Broadway in Shakespeare's romantic comedy “The Tempest” (1995) and the comedy “London Assurance” (1997).
Meanwhile, the struggling actor drove a moving van to make ends meet. He also co-created and helmed the sketch comedy and clown show “The New Bozena” in New York. He would later make his directorial debut with a short film based on the stage show and create an unsold pilot presentation for Fox TV.
In 1997, Wilson went to television and made his early acting debut on the ABC soap opera “One Life to Live,” playing Casey Keegan. Two years later, he appeared in his first made-for-TV movie, "The Expendables," and made his feature film debut in the sci-fi comedy “Galaxy Quest” (both in 1999), which was directed by Dean Parisot and starred Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Sam Rockwell, Daryl Mitchell, and Tony Shalhoub.
Entering the new millennium, Wilson played small roles in the film "Almost Famous," a musical drama written and directed by Cameron Crowe and starring Billy Crudup and Kate Hudson. He then landed more bit parts in Joe Roth's romantic comedy "America's Sweethearts" (2001; starring Julia Roberts, Billy Crystal, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and John Cusack), Dirk Hagen's confusing and annoying comedy "Wheelmen" (2002; with Lisa Arturo, James Avery, and Jim Beaver), and Steven Soderbergh's low-budgeted romantic drama comedy "Full Frontal" (2002; alongside David Duchovny, Catherine Keener, Mary McCormack, and Julia Roberts). He also starred in Peter Brown's 17-minute short film called "Self Storage" (2002).
During this time, Wilson continued working on television, appearing as a guest in an episode of the WB's hit supernatural drama series "Charmed," Fox's sci-fi series "Dark Angel," the popular Emmy Award-winning CBS cop/crime drama "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," the NBC police procedural drama "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," and two episodes of short-lived ABC medical drama "MDs." He was also seen in the historical TV movie about the 1973 tennis match between middle-aged champion Bobby Riggs (played by Ron Silver) and young feminist Billie Jean King (played by Holly Hunter), "When Billie Beat Bobby" (2001), portraying Dennis Van De Meer.
2003 proved to be Wilson's breakout year when he nabbed the role of Arthur Martin, the odd intern from Cypress College mortuary school who works for the funeral home and the love interest to Francis Conroy's Ruth Fisher, on the HBO comedic drama “Six Feet Under.” He stayed on the show until 2005 and with the show's cast, won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
Wilson appeared in the comedic TV movie "Slice o' Life" (2003; starring Janeane Garofalo) and was spotted in an episode of USA Network's Emmy-winning drama comedy starring Tony Shalhoub, "Monk," CBS’ crime/police procedural drama "Numb3rs," and the HBO Emmy-winning "Entourage.”
He added to his resume roles in the films "House of 1000 Corpses" (2003), a Rob Zombie horror film, the highly-acclaimed "How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your A**" (2003) and "The Life Coach" (2005). Additionally, he was cast alongside Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn, and Penélope Cruz in Breck Eisner's film adaptation of the best-selling book by Clive Cussler, "Sahara," and appeared in the ensemble drama "Blue in Green" (both in 2005).
“I was always a big fan of the fact that there was going to be an American ‘Office.’ I loved the English ‘Office,’ but the English ‘Office’ was like a mini-series. We adapted an English mini-series for American television. It’s a very different thing. They made 13 episodes. We’re on our 50th episode right now, already, and we’re not even half-way done. I just thought there was always a great deal of potential in the show and when I met Greg Daniels and saw how passionate he was about it, and his intelligence and sense of humor, I knew we were in good hands. I was always a believer.” Rainn Wilson
In 2005, Wilson hit the big time again when he was cast as the power-hungry Dwight Schrute on NBC's American version of the British cult favorite sitcom, “The Office.” Having watched every episode of the original series before he auditioned, Wilson had initially auditioned for Michael, but the casting directors liked his audition as Dwight much more and hired him for the role. For his performance in the show, Wilson, alongside the show's cast members, won Screen Actors Guild Awards twice in 2007 and 2008, both for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. He also earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 2007.
During his “The Office” stint, Wilson portrayed Angel Gabriel in the horror movie "Dominion" and had a supporting role as Luke Wilson's best friend in the Ivan Reitman comedy that also starring Uma Thurman, “My Super Ex-Girlfriend” (both in 2006).
On juggling “My Super Ex-Girlfriend” and “The Office,” Wilson revealed, "This movie actually I shot while doing 'The Office.' I was literally flying back and forth from LA to New York. It was a very interesting story because they weren’t going to let me do the movie. NBC Universal wasn’t going to let me do it and New Regency wasn’t going to let me do it because of the dangers of me being in what’s called first position by 'The Office.' I’m owned by 'The Office' because I’m under contract with them. Ivan Reitman personally financially guaranteed my days on the movie. In other words, if I was shooting a scene for 'Super Ex-Girlfriend' and 'The Office' called and said, ‘We need Rainn back in LA to shoot 'The Office,'’ Ivan had his money on the line to guarantee my days at the studio. He really believed in me and put it all on the line to cast me in the movie but there was a lot of crazy shooting 'Office' all week, flying on Friday night, shooting Saturday and Sunday, flying back Monday morning and shooting 'The Office' again. There was a lot of that during the fall and winter."
He also did print ads for Puma and returned to the big screen as a science teacher in “The Last Mimzy” (2007; starring Rhiannon Leigh Wryn and Chris O'Neil), a family feature directed by Robert Shaye and loosely adapted from the acclaimed 1943 science fiction short story "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" authored by Lewis Padgett (the pseudonym of husband and wife team Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore).
When asked what his thoughts on the spiritual aspects of this film, Wilson explained, "I actually have spiritual beliefs that are very important to me and I grew up a member of the Baha’i Faith. It was one of the things that drew me to this project, in reading the script and seeing the spiritual and metaphysical journey that the story takes, as well as the science fiction and adventure journey. That’s such a rare thing in a Hollywood film and I was really attracted to that."
Also in 2007, moviegoers could catch Wilson in Jason Reitman's blockbuster, Oscar-nominated comedy film starring Ellen Page, "Juno," as Rollo. Additionally, he hosted a February episode of the popular NBC sketch comedy show "Saturday Night Live."
When asked what it was like hosting the show, Wilson admitted, "It was an amazing experience. I can’t even say that doing ‘Saturday Night Live’ was a dream come true ‘cause it was never even a dream that was on my radar. I never thought I would be hosting ‘Saturday Night Live.’ I grew up watching Buck Henry and Steve Martin hosting and I just never thought that would be me. But, it was a great experience. It’s exhilarating and terrifying, but they kept saying, 'Make sure you have fun. That’s the most important thing. That’s what’s really going to read to the audience.' And I think I was able to have fun. We did a spoof on ‘Black Snake Moan’ called ‘White Possum Scream,’ [laughs] and it was a long scene. It was a 7-page scene and they kept wanting to cut it. I kept fighting with Lorne (Michaels) about it. I was like, 'Trust me on this one. If I’m in my tighty whities on a chain, being held by a black man, writhing around, it’s going to be funny.' [Laughs] So, I fought for that to stay in. They were open to my ideas. I had a lot of ideas about the sketches I was in that I think helped them."
Wilson is currently working on his upcoming film project with director Peter Cattaneo, a comedy called "The Rocker," in which he will play the lead role of Robert "Fish" Fishman, the dedicated and passionate drummer who is kicked out of his band but lives his rock n' roll dream twenty years later.
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, "The Office," 2008
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, "The Office," 2007
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, "Six Feet Under," 2004