Rainn Wilson doesn’t care that people might always associate him with Dwight Schrute, the character he played for nine seasons NBC’s “The Office.”
After all, it was a career-building role.
“I think I’ll always be known as Dwight first and foremost, and that’s ok,” the actor said at an AOL Build Speaker Series event Jan. 20. “It was the greatest work experience.”
But he is aware that his character on “The Office” was very specific — so memorable, in fact, that his performance may be ingrained in some people’s minds.
“I think some people are saying, ‘Dwight will always be Dwight and that’s all he can do,'” says Wilson. “That’s fine, and … then there are some people who will see that you can play a lot of colours, and facets, and textures.”
That’s what Wilson hopes to do with his new television show, “Backstrom,” which premieres on FOX Thurs. Jan. 22 at 9 p.m. Wilson plays Detective Everett Backstrom — a misanthropic, rude, and surly detective who happens to be really good at his job. However, his negative worldview has him falling apart as he solves crime after crime. It’s a crime drama with a dash of levity, and Sarah Chalke co-stars as his ex-fiance.
Backstrom ostensibly has a lot of negative qualities, and given Dwight’s unpersonable demeanor, it’s arguable that Wilson plays a lot of characters who are unlikable at face-value. Wilson knows that that’s true, but he always aims to dig deeper. He mentioned that even though Backstrom and Dwight are different — Dwight’s a “nerdy suck up” and Backstrom is a total cynic — he followed the same model for developing their characters: making the characters complete, not just one-note caricatures.
“He’s [Backstrom], got an emotional life, he’s got love interests, he has a family… [you get to] see how he got to be how he is.”
Wilson says that he “has an emotional life […] if you’re specific enough as an actor, you can take people along.”
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