Rainn Wilson, 54, is an actor greatest recognized for his roles in TV’s “The Workplace” and “Six Ft Underneath.” He stars within the movie “Blackbird,” due in theaters and on-demand Sept. 18. He spoke with Marc Myers.
The teasing I skilled in class rising up wasn’t a single “Carrie” second. It was extra like demise by a thousand cuts.
The torment began with “Rainn, Rainn, go away,” however by highschool I had graduated to punches and being shoved into lockers. I used to be hopelessly nerdy and didn’t slot in.
My greatest good friend, John, additionally was teased however discovered a work-around. He simply laughed and shrugged, and the bullies gave up. I used to be too delicate and insecure to tug that off.
My household lived in Shoreline, Wash., a suburb 15 minutes north of Seattle. My mom, Shay, named me for poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Rain appeared too hippie-ish, so an additional “n” was added.
After I was 2½, my mother and father divorced. My father, Robert, remarried once I was three and we moved to Nicaragua. My father and stepmom, Kristin, had been each members of the Baha’i religion, and we moved there as pioneers to serve within the native Baha’i group.
I don’t bear in mind a lot there, simply working round within the jungle-y fields. Since I used to be blond then, I used to be totally different and didn’t slot in. My unusual identify and weird-sounding faith didn’t assist.
We returned to Washington once I was 5. We had been very poor and lived in a tiny cinder-block rental residence in Olympia. My garments got here from the Salvation Military, and I drank powdered milk.
Dad labored initially because the workplace supervisor of a sewer-construction agency. He longed to be an artist. On breaks, he’d pull out a transportable typewriter and work on science-fiction novels. At residence, he did summary oil work. He was an achieved artist.
I noticed my pure mother solely 4 to 5 instances between my mother and father’ divorce and once I was 15. Kristin raised me. She and my father beloved me, however they argued loads.
They did their greatest. On the skin, we had a bohemian Norman Rockwell life. However there wasn’t a basis of real love between them. I escaped into books, studying two or three sci-fi and fantasy novels per week. I additionally started taking part in chess with buddies.
Even my music instructor acquired into the nerd-torment act. I needed to play the saxophone. Saxophonists wore Hawaiian shirts and sun shades and had been cool. However my instructor satisfied me the bassoon was cooler. He mentioned it was a woman magnet. I assumed, nice, signal me up. I used to be completely conned. It was dorky.
After my sophomore 12 months at Shoreline Excessive Faculty, we moved to Wilmette, Sick. My father turned a instructor on the Baha’i Nationwide Heart there. Kristin labored in membership and data.
I used to be grateful for the transfer, because it introduced me to New Trier Excessive Faculty, which had an unbelievable arts and drama program.
As a brand new child, I began over. I took an performing class and located I may make the ladies chortle. Someday they invited me to sit down at their lunch desk. I assumed, overlook the chess membership, I’ll do the drama factor.
The opposite large influencing occasion was a dialog I had with the performing instructor, Suzanne Adams. After I advised her how a lot I needed to be an actor, she inspired me.
Shedding my pores and skin and placing myself in another person’s sneakers was a launch and reduction from my very own insecure, anxious existence.
‘Even my music instructor acquired into the nerd-torment act.’
— Rainn Wilson, on his childhood
My first play was “Time Out for Ginger.” I performed Ginger’s dad. I used to be stiff and awkward, however I had a 10-minute, show-stopping monologue that drew a spherical of applause. I by no means turned in style in class, however I gained respect.
On the College of Washington, I studied drama. That’s the place I met my spouse, Vacation.
After I graduated, I auditioned for performs within the Seattle space. That’s once I realized I had been an enormous fish in a small pond and wanted actual coaching. So within the late 1980s, I enrolled in NYU’s graduate performing program. My father and stepmother divorced.
Then got here a protracted interval of doing theater and never making a lot cash. My profession didn’t take off till 2003, once I was forged in “Six Ft Underneath.”
At present, Vacation and I reside with our son, Walter, in Los Angeles, north of Malibu. We simply moved right into a Mediterranean-style home from the 1970s. We even have a household cabin in Oregon.
I speak to each of my mothers. I’ve points with their parenting kinds. However that being mentioned, I forgive and love them.
Not too long ago I misplaced my dad. I miss his humor and creativeness. I’ve additionally come to comprehend that after we lose a father or mother, we don’t see their damaging qualities, solely the chic components of themselves.
What’s “Blackbird” about? A household gathers to spend a remaining weekend with their dying mom.
Who do you play? I’m the nerdy husband of the mom’s older daughter. I’m the comedian reduction.
Who did you channel for Dwight on “The Workplace?” Numerous geeky family members and buddies from suburban Seattle.
Folks can be shocked in the event that they knew you can…? Play aggressive chess.