Supporting actor, the un-usual suspects
Dwight Schrute is cut from many cloths — many comically shaped, weirdly fabricated, strange-to-the-touch cloths.
The guy who dresses the part, actor Rainn Wilson of “The Office,” is a pretty big fan of the big Technicolor Dwightcoat.
“What I love about Dwight is you think you know exactly what Dwight is, but he always surprises you,” Wilson says. “You think of him as a dorky fascist, but there’s always been that other twist.”
Like other workers in “The Office,” Wilson faced an obvious challenge in needing to distance his role on NBC’s remake of the British hit comedy from its counterpart, Gareth. Wilson, who previously gained notice on “Six Feet Under” as troubled mortuary intern Arthur, lauds “The Office” writers for “pushing the boundaries of Dwight” with personal frustrations that ground the character’s infinite quirkiness.
Of course, these are the same writers that made Dwight come from a family of proud beet farmers, so he’s not exactly at risk of becoming too grounded — except in his own mind.
“The main thing that really appealed to me about the character was how seriously he took himself,” Wilson says. “I always think that a great springboard for comedy is someone actually taking themselves far too seriously.”
Besides improvising dialogue during shoots, Wilson has added plenty of his own idiosyncratic touches to Dwight.
“What any actor brings to the role is the physicality,” says Wilson. “The haircut was my own invention, the glasses were of my choice. (Dwight’s) watch has a calculator on it which no one gets to see, but I think is very telling.
“I come from a big north-of-Seattle, kind-of-white-trash background. I loved bringing some of that into him, driving a Camaro and listening to heavy metal and loving paintball and crossbows.”
Although Wilson comes across as Dwight’s very rational alter ego, his affection for the one-eighth-Amish survivalist is clear. Since filming began on “The Office,” Wilson has been blogging in the character of Dwight. At first it was just for himself, but NBC now publishes “Dwight Schrute’s Schrute-Space” on its Web site.
For Valentine’s Day, Wilson/ Schrute advised readers to treat their mates right: “Why not, as the ancients used to, kill something delicious for them and lay it on their door-step. A stag, a salmon, a sow.”
“It was my idea in the very beginning that Dwight should have a blog,” Wilson says. “I think that a blog is a perfect way for Dwight to express himself. Most people’s blogs are like boring, pontificating rants, and that is right up Dwight’s alley.”
Favorite moment of the past season?
“I really loved the episode where Dwight’s personality starts to change when he gets a concussion, and I vomited all over the car. Toward the end, when my personality started to change, and I developed this budding friendship toward Pam, and I needed Michael to take care of me instead of me taking care of him.”
What shows do you watch regularly?
“I’m obsessed with ‘Lost.’ Love it. I love that I love the same shows that Dwight loves. ‘Lost,’ ‘Battlestar Galactica.’ … I hate shows that have anything to do with clues and medicine.”
Which actor or actress doesn’t get enough credit?
“Well, I’ll tell you one is one is Kathryn Hahn from ‘Crossing Jordan.’ … I think her work in ‘Crossing Jordan’ is fantastic. Funny and poignant and complex. Dwight’s answer is Katee Sackhoff, who plays Starbuck on ‘Battlestar Galactica.’ He writes about her frequently in his blog. She is his be-all and end-all perfect woman.”