Quint chats with Rainn Wilson about THE ROCKER, Transformers 2, Whores with Dildos at Comic-Con and much more!
Published at: July 17, 2008, 5:08 a.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. I am a fairly recent convert to The Office. Let me qualify that… I loved the UK Office and didn’t think an American version would be anything better than a warmed over lumpy turd. I watched the first episode and it was mostly recycled jokes from the original show, so I blew it off. I am a fickle bitch.
When it was into its second season, people started telling me I was crazy for not keeping up with it and I soon found myself picking up Season 1 on DVD. I blew threw it. Then I picked up Season 2 on DVD and got through it in record time. And then Season Three, which I didn’t get until about halfway into the new season, so I’m still a season behind.
I love what Rainn Wilson does with Dwight, how he has made it his own, letting Gareth live and stand as a separate character.
I was able to get some phone time with Rainn while he was in Dallas promoting his upcoming flick THE ROCKER in which he plays a burnt out almost-was metal drummer who joins up with his nephew’s high school rock band driving them to popularity and trying to teach them how to really lead a rockstar lifestyle.
It’s an absurd movie, but I love absurd comedy. We get into it a bit here as well as Rainn’s upcoming projects… also look out for a couple Entourage references. Any Entourage fans will know what he’s talking about at the beginning and end of the interview. Enjoy!
Rainn Wilson: Hello there.
Quint: Hey! How is it going, man?
Rainn Wilson: It’s going good. How are you doing?
Quint: I’m doing very well. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I know that they are throwing this at you as you are leaving… at least that’s what they are telling me.
Rainn Wilson: It’s great, my pleasure man. I love your website and it’s good talking to you. I portrayed your fearless leader, Harry Knowles, in an odd round about way…
Quint: Yes, you did. That was the Entourage episode, right?
Rainn Wilson: Yeah, exactly.
Quint: What’s really funny about that is that Harry has not covered COMIC CON in like eight years and I’m been the point man at COMIC CON so I got to kind of pretend that that was me for a little bit, even though I know damn well that it was Harry Knowles, but I’ve never had the whores offered yet, so…
Rainn Wilson: (Laughs) One of these days…
Quint: Maybe Harry has, he hasn’t shared with me if he has or not, but who knows? I know he was honored when they first brought that up to him and he was upset that they ended up not using his real name, even though he gave them full permission to do so.
Rainn Wilson: Oh really?
Quint: Yeah. Apparently their lawyers didn’t think it was a good idea, so…
Rainn Wilson: I think Judah Friedlander told me “Yeah, I was originally offered that part, before you, but Harry Knowles is a friend of mine and I didn’t want to offend him, so I turned it down.” I was like “Offend him? The first thing I thought when I read it was he would flattered, man! What internet movie reviewer wouldn’t be flattered to be kind of portrayed in a cool interesting way on a hit TV show?”
Quint: Yeah. Harry has always been able to… He’s very liberal with his self deprecating humor, but that was a great episode man. I loved that thing, but I’ve been a fan of yours since I saw you on GALAXY QUEST. I think that was the time that I was like “Hey, who the hell is that guy? That guy is hilarious!”
Rainn Wilson: Oh cool, that’s good. Basically that was my… my first movies were both Dreamworks movies my first summer in LA and I was in GALAXY QUEST and ALMOST FAMOUS and I did them the same summer and… two classics that I was lucky enough to be a part of.
Quint: I guess since THE OFFICE took off, you have probably been in the lucky situation of having scripts and parts come to you instead of you having to go out and audition for them. At least that’s what I would imagine. Is that true?
Rainn Wilson: Yeah, you know it’s not like I have this pile of scripts with studios waiting with baited breah to greenlight them, but I do get some offers, which is a far cry from where I was five or six years ago and THE OFFICE and SIX FEET UNDER opened as lot of doors and it’s pretty cool… There’s a lot of cool stuff that seems to be coming my way.
Quint: Was THE ROCKER one of those movies that came to you or did you have to pursue that?
Rainn Wilson: It was a little of both. It was last summer and there were a bunch of other projects we were trying to get going. I had this great script with Bob Odenkirk called KANAN RHODES: UNKILLABLE SERVANT OF JUSTICE and we thought that was going to get greenlit with Paramount and at the last minute it was turned down and a couple other projects fell through and I had nothing. I was like “Oh well, I’m going to spend my hiatus just hanging out playing CALL OF DUTY” and then THE ROCKER showed up and the producers I had a good relationship with and Fox Atomic… I knew Debbie Liebling and had a good relationship…
Basically what it came down to is very funny, because they had the budget worked out… we had the director attached and it was all good to go, we just needed the approval of like the big chief of Fox and he was like “I don’t know about this project… Rainn plays Dwight as this uptight weirdo in an office, but this is a rock and roll movie… I don’t get it.”
That Thursday night was the episode of THE OFFICE and I don’t know if you watch THE OFFICE that much, but it was the one where Michael and I are on the roof of the warehouse throwing watermelons off the side and we were rocking out with the air guitar doing this rock and roll celebration. The producer of the movie, Shawn Levy goes into the guy’s office and goes “I want to show you something” and the guy’s like “I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to see an actor reel.” Shawn Levy was like “It’s seventeen seconds long” and the head of Fox is like “OK, I’ll watch it.” He watches me and Steve rocking out and goes “OK, I get it. Go ahead, let’s make the movie.”
Rainn Wilson: That’s how business gets done in Hollywood sometimes, it’s crazy! It just comes down to that episode happed to air and there happened to be seventeen seconds of rocking out in it that managed to convince an executive.
Quint: The moment that I knew that I dug the movie was… Now I’m a huge fan of random and crazy humor and the movie completely won me over when they turned you into the TERMINATOR in the beginning.
Rainn Wilson: (laughs) Yeah!
Quint: The second that you were running along the van and everybody was freaking out, I was like “OK, I think I’m going to like this movie.” Does that kind of humor work for you, too? Is that one of the things that attracted you to the project?
Rainn Wilson: Oh definitely, you know I love that opening sequence and it’s funny, because the director and the producers always talked about it like it was a horror film, like they really storyboarded it very carefully. It was like 28 DAYS LATER, only instead of a zombie or the TERMINATOR, it was a heavy metal drummer and I love that whole facet.
Quint: You do do the Michael Myers sit up.
Rainn Wilson: Yes, totally. Someone else said it was like Chucky and I look a little like CHUCKY. I think if they ever did CHUCKY 7 or CHILD’S PLAY 7, I could be Chucky come to life.
Quint: He finally get’s out of the doll body and gets into you?
Rainn Wilson: Exactly. He’s not a doll, but a human.
Quint: Well I think you need to go pitch something over at Universal.
Rainn Wilson: Really. But yeah I love the physical comedy and the absurd comedy to it and then the other thing that really struck me was like it’s got such a nice heart. These are really likeable characters and it really kind of moved me. It’s kind of a coming of age story for Fish (Rainn’s character) with kind of this surrogate father relationship with Curtis and it had an old fashioned, John Hughes-like sweetness to it that also… The fact that we can have absurd things like a Terminator heavy metal drummer and crazy pratfalls and also have a heartfelt story was the biggest selling point for me.
Quint: As a fan of movie comedy… it just seems like for so long that the best that studio comedies could offer were like AMERICAN PIE and then I think Judd Apatow has a lot to do with the turn around, but like you said it is kind of a throw back to that we are getting a lot of these really funny and sometimes incredibly vulgar but still really heartfelt and sweet at the core comedies and I think it’s an exciting time for comedy personally.
Rainn Wilson: Yeah, there’s a lot of great stuff coming out and I haven’t seen TROPIC THUNDER yet. I hear that’s good. I think there’s a lot of interesting stuff coming out. I think the studios have realized with BORAT and KNOCKED UP and SUPERBAD, that audiences are open to seeing… They don’t need to see Jim Carrey to watch comedy, you know? It could be ensemble comedy and more off of the wall character types in these roles, so people’s minds have been expanded and studio’s minds have been expanded.
Quint: That’s a good thing now, it’s just going to take one or two failures and then we are going to be back at only getting the A list comedians going, you know? But we will ride the wave as long as we can.
Rainn Wilson: Exactly.
Quint: Another good thing about the flick is that… were talking about having great character ensembles and I love that you have people like Fred Armison and Jeff Gralain, Jane Lynch, Will Arnett… There are so many great supporting really genuinely funny people in the flick and of course you get to make out with Kelly Bundy, so there’s…
Rainn Wilson: Dude! Every American male’s fantasy, right?
Quint: At least anybody that grew up watching MARRIED WITH CHILDREN, that’s for damn sure!
Rainn Wilson: That was something really important from the beginning and we talked about how this is a movie where we want everyone to be funny, even if you have just a couple of lines. It’s a big ensemble comedy, really. It’s not like, you know like a Jim Carrey movie where he’s funny and everyone around him is kind of boring. That doesn’t really work for this story and in a certain way and it was great for me, because I didn’t have to be funny all of the time. Part of Fish is you have to kind of root for him and kind of go on the journey with him. He’s not necessarily the funniest guy around all of the time.
Quint: I agree, but he is also always centered. It’s either him or the band pushing the story. I like that Jeff Garlin and Jane Lynch, where they come in at strategic points throughout the film, where they use those guys just enough so it doesn’t feel like they are taking center stage, but it also doesn’t feel like they are being wasted, especially Jeff Garlin, I think he get’s wasted a lot in films. He’s one of my favorites and I’m just waiting for him to have that break out. Of course he is in WALL-E, but he’s just a voice in this huge movie.
Rainn Wilson: He was so great in WALL-E.
Quint: But yeah, I think that the character economy, how they would put it in screenwriting class, was handled very well. So what are you working on now? You have some stuff coming up?
Rainn Wilson: Well, I just did a very small cameo in TRANSFORMERS 2.
Rainn Wilson: That was kind of a blast. I got to work with Michael Bay and I was a big fan of TRANSFORMERS.
Quint: I spent a few days on the set of the first movie and something I noticed was that Michael Bay, I think he has an AD, but he doesn’t need one.
Rainn Wilson: He does everything himself.
Quint: He does everything and he’s not afraid to be the task master on a set.
Rainn Wilson: I saw him and he was literally giving the focus puller notes. The focus puller was like “No, you have to do it like this…” and Michael Bay is like “No no no, do it like this and hook this here and you can turn this here and you can get the focus this way…” Somehow I believed Michael Bay knew more than the focus puller. He even ran camera a couple of times. He did his own camera work.
Rainn Wilson: Yeah.
Quint: That must have been fun. I don’t imagine that you are in any scenes with any robots, but it would still be fun.
Rainn Wilson: No, I wish I would have had scenes with explosions, but yeah the only other thing is I have a bunch of film irons in the fire out there. I just handed in, last week, the second draft of this film BONZAI SHADOW HANDS to Jason Reitman and that is the script I’m writing myself to star in where I play a down and out alcoholic ninja.
Rainn Wilson: Who lives in the San Fernando Valley.
Quint: Is that for Jason to produce?
Rainn Wilson: Produce and direct. He really liked the first draft and I think the second draft is a big improvement and hopefully at some point in 2009 we can do it.
Quint: I think that’s about all I’ve got.
Rainn Wilson: Alright, cool man, nice talking to you and maybe I’ll see you around one of these days. I think I’m going to be at COMIC CON, are you going to be there?
Quint: I will certainly be at COMIC CON, yeah.
Rainn Wilson: Maybe I will see you there.
Quint: I’ll be there with bells on.
Rainn Wilson: We will get some hookers with strap-ons.
Quint: We will get some hookers and strap-ons and then we will make life imitate art.
Rainn Wilson: (laughs) There we go.
Quint: Alright cool man.
Rainn Wilson: Alright, later.
There you have it! I have a ton more that I’m trying to get completed and to you guys before Comic-Con wipes me out… and by wipes me out I naturally mean pounds me in the ass for money. Heh.
Hope you guys dug the brief chat. Keep your eye peeled for more goodies over the next few days! Thanks once more to Muldoon for the transcription work!