“The Office” ran for nine seasons on NBC. That’s a long time for a television show. So long, that actor Rainn Wilson was initially averse to acting in another TV series.
He told the following anecdote at the AOL Build Speaker Series on Jan. 20:
“I was finishing up ‘The Office’ in the final week, and my agent called, and they were like, ‘we want you do read this script,’ and I was like, ‘ok,’ and they said it was a TV pilot, and I was like, ‘you’re fired.'”
He was joking about firing his agents, but he wasn’t kidding about how much it was going to take for him to do another television series.
So what ultimately convinced him?
A good script, a rich character, and a seat at the producer’s table made it an enticing choice for Wilson.
“The part was insane,” he said. “…Interesting and complex and difficult, and I was like, I have to play this role.”
The series is based on Swedish author and criminologist Leif G.W. Persson’s books about a nasty, boorish detective, Evert Bäckström (changed to Everett Backstrom for the American television series). The books are incredibly successful in Scandinavia.
Wilson was initially approached to do the series not long after “The Office” bowed in 2013. At that time, the series was set to air on CBS. However, after the network passed on the series, it eventually landed at FOX.
Ultimately, Wilson got a “nice year off,” as he puts, it before filming the 13 episodes.
It also doesn’t hurt that this time around, he’s not just a featured player. He’s the titular character and also a producer on the show, with showrunner Hart Hansen, Persson, and Persson’s Scandinavian literary agent, Niclas Salomonsson, acting as executive producers.
“I [wanted] to have a place at the table … a lot of the time as an actor, you’re left out,” he said.
“Backstrom” premieres on Fox Thurs., Jan 22 at 9 p.m.
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