'Office' star took advantage of the strike pause

Keeping in step with a long-held tradition of offbeat, quirky Spirit Awards hosts including Sarah Silverman, John Waters and Buck Henry, Film Independent has handed over this year’s duties to Rainn Wilson.

Wilson deadpans that he most likely got the gig because of his “rugged good looks,” joking, “Let’s just do the math of the viewership — young women between 20 and 30. Those eyeballs will be tuned in on the 23rd simply because I and my jaw line will be appearing. That’s the only reason I can possibly think of.”

Still, “The Office” star admits he’s “terrified.”

“I told them from the beginning that I am not a standup comic or a host or an emcee,” he stresses. “So they are kind of letting me do what I want, and I am just trying to have a good time.”

Thanks to a waiver from the WGA, Wilson was able to work with a writer from “The Office” to develop, as he puts it, “funny things to say” and various taped comedy segments that will play throughout the show.

Coming up with funny things to say doesn’t seem to be a problem for Wilson, who says he’s “adopted Billy Crystal” for hosting inspiration. “He is now living with me and my wife. He is very good. He’s almost potty trained.”

Although he attended a Spirit after-party three years ago, Wilson has never been “invited to the big tent.” He’s looking forward to hanging with the in-crowd, which includes the multinominated cast of “Juno,” in which Wilson has a cameo role.

“It’s a pretty cool show because you literally have all the world’s biggest stars smoking and drinking light beers in semicasual clothes on a beach in a tent.”

Wilson admits that the writers strike was one of the reasons behind his decision to take on the master of ceremonies role.

“I don’t know how I would have done it working 60 hours a week on the set of ‘The Office.’ I imagine I could have done some writing in the evening and shot comedy segments on the weekends but it would have been brutal.”

No matter how he fares, Wilson says he isn’t quite ready to step into Jon Stewart’s shoes anytime soon.

“I don’t think I am cut out to be a professional host and it’s not something that I necessarily aspire to be. It’s more of something to do on a lark.”

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