Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Name: Rainn Wilson
Birthdate: January 20, 1966
Famous Years: 1999-Present
Currently Known For: The Meg
|Networth: $14 Million||Famous For: The Office, Galaxy Quest, The Rocker|
January 20, 1966
The Office, Galaxy Quest, The Rocker
Something that makes a television series memorable is having a character that resonates with audiences. For “The Office”, there were many memorable characters, but one that really stood out was Dwight Schrute, who was played by Rainn Wilson. It was a role that Wilson would play for nearly a decade, and had the veteran actor portraying one of the more recognizable characters of the 21st century.
Wilson was born in Seattle, Washington on January 20, 1966, though he would spend a few of his early years in Nicaragua living with his father. Still, Wilson would spend most of his youth in the Seattle area before his family moved to Illinois in his teenage years. After graduating high school, Wilson would head to the University of Washington to pursue a career as an actor, earning his degree in the field and heading to New York City with hopes of making it big.
It wasn’t until he was already 30 years old that Wilson finally started to land roles, getting his start on the soap opera “One Life to Live”. His big break in film would come in 1999 when he had a spot in “Galaxy Quest”, which led to another role in “Almost Famous”. Wilson started to land some supporting roles around television, when the role of a lifetime would finally come calling.
In 2003, auditions began for a comedy series that was being developed on NBC known as “The Office”, and Wilson was the first actor to try out. Originally, Wilson was being considered for the role of Michael Scott, which would eventually go to Steve Carell. At the time, Wilson had also been auditioning for the role of GOB Bluth on “Arrested Development”, but lost out to Will Arnett. It ended up being a blessing for both actors that found success in their roles, with Wilson being cast as Dwight Schrute; the enigmatic beet farmer who works as the assistant to the regional manager within a paper company.
The show would end up becoming one of the most popular comedy series of the new millennium, with Wilson remaining on the cast throughout the show’s entirety. For more than 200 episodes, Wilson starred in all nine seasons, and was nominated for several Primetime Emmy Awards for his work. Though he didn’t win for best supporting actor, the cast did win twice for best ensemble in a comedy series.
In 2013, the show about the Scranton, Pennsylvania-based paper company had to come to an end, but not before making stars out of many of the actors involved. Wilson had been in some notable films leading up to “The Office”, and the series only helped him to land more roles. When “The Office” started, Wilson began to appear in films such as “Sahara”, “My Super Ex-Girlfriend” and “Juno”.
Wilson would get his first crack at playing the lead role in a film, coming in 2008’s comedy “The Rocker”. The film, which was one of Emma Stone’s first starring roles, would unfortunately be a disappointment at the box office, pulling in less than $9 million despite having a $15 million budget. He’d rebound as a voice actor the next year with “Monsters vs. Aliens”, but many producers were wary of having Wilson be the lead actor in a film, though he did begin to star in more smaller budget films such as “Super”.
As for his career in television, Wilson had a steady job on “The Office” so he didn’t quite need to have many roles. He’d make cameos on series such as “Reno 911” and “Family Guy”, but already had a show that kept him busy. When “The Office” ended, Wilson would lend his voice to the animated series “Adventure Time”, and in 2015 was back in a starring role on TV. He was picked to play the title character in the comedy-drama crime series “Backstrom”, which came in with high expectations. However, the series would be cancelled after its first season, with 13 episodes making it on Fox.
Even with “The Office” no longer on the air, people still seem to remember Wilson mainly for his role on the series. “I think I’ll always be known as Dwight first and foremost, and that’s okay,” he said. “It was the greatest work experience...I think some people are saying, ‘Dwight will always be Dwight and that’s all he can do.’ That’s fine, and then there are some people who will see that you can play a lot of colors, and facets and textures.”
Following “The Office” and “Backstrom”, Wilson has remained busy, though. In the past few years, Wilson has had roles in the films “Army of One”, “Smurfs: The Lost Village” and had a blockbuster success in 2018 with “The Meg”, starring alongside Jason Statham. He would also enter the “Star Trek” universe in 2017 as Harry Mudd, appearing in the CBS All Access series “Star Trek: Discovery”. So even if the 52 year old hasn’t had a role quite as successful as Dwight, he’s found a lot of work over the years thanks to the role that he hadn’t even auditioned for in the first place.