It’s been three years since The Office went dark, but practically everyone remembers Dwight Schrute and his bed and breakfast beet farm. How could they not, thanks to Rainn Wilson’s portrayal of the charismatic character for nine long years on the Emmy-winning comedy?
Well it may have been a while, but Dwight, thanks to Wilson, is back. In the actor’s new memoir, The Bassoon King, he uses Dwight Schrute to write the forward before launching into his life story. And we have to say — it’s pretty damned interesting. Here are just 13 facts we learned reading about his past.
1. He grew up in Nicaragua
That’s right. He may have been born in the States, but when his mom left, Wilson’s dad moved little Rainn and his new wife to the rain forest for a little while. There Wilson had a pet sloth that would escape every single night. Naturally, it didn’t get far.
2. He had worms. Twice.
The chapter describing this harrowing childhood incident is nothing short of knee-slapping. Not to mention revealing. “The worms coming out of the butt is always a classic story, it always gets people’s attention,” Wilson shrugs in our interview with him.
3. He was a Dungeons and Dragons master
Weekends weren’t spent playing video games or hanging out at the mall. This kid and his friends would be gone from dawn until dusk (and sometimes later), playing out their wildest fantasies. There was a good reason for it, too. “I did whatever I could to escape the unhappy household that I was in,” he explains. “Whether it was sci-fi books and reading for hours and days at a time, or dungeons and dragons all weekend.”
4. He kind of hates the geek culture
Back in his day, being a geek meant getting beat up, and not in that cute, John Hughes kind of way either (even though he went to a high school based on one of John Hughes’ movies). For him geek interests were genuine interests back in the day. Today, he believes them to be completely commercialized. “People have figured out how to cash in on nerd culture,” he says. “Money lenders have made their way into the nerd temple.”
5. He was jumped — twice
Living in New York before New York was the place it is today was dangerous. Especially for an out-of-work actor who was actually slumming it. “One of the times I was hit on the back of a head with a stick. Thank God it was a stick and not a crowbar,” he says. “The other time I was punched in the back of the head, but when they swung at me they were kind of drunk.”
6. He’s had some really random jobs
Before making it as an actor, Wilson did pretty much anything he could think of to make money and survive. That included running his own one-man moving company out of the van he and his wife received for their wedding.
7. He almost landed a role on Arrested Development
Gob Bluth was almost played by Rainn Wilson. The actor was in the Top 3 for the role. Apparently on a callback, he was waiting in the reception area for hours with the script. Eventually he saw someone locking up, and realized they forgot to tell him to go home. Apparently Will Arnett had gone in and blown everyone away so hard, that they forgot about considering anyone else.
8. He is of the Baha’i faith
In fact Wilson spends a large chunk of the book dissecting what it means to follow this faith (basically believing that every God from each religion exists), and how hard it was for him to accept that faith. Unfortunately that meant years of alcohol and drug abuse before making peace with himself. “Status and success and self and ego and a bohemian lifestyle is a recipe for getting into a lot of trouble with drugs and alcohol,” he explains. “It was my spiritual journey that kind of helped me out of that.”
9. He started a spirituality site
Ever heard of SoulPancake? Wilson is one of the founders. Basically, he describes it as the antithesis to all of the hateful things found online today, and uses it as a building tool to help people create a positive space for themselves. It’s gotten so big that even Oprah has taken note.
10. He “hates” Mindy Kaling
Don’t ask him about it, either. Aside from the stuff he writes in his book, he tells us that Kaling is “a disgusting person and deserves to be belittled and mocked for her absurdity.” He then clarifies, “No, we’ve always been kind of frenemies and given each other a hard time and we love each other a lot too.”
11. His son’s name is Walter…
…but it was almost Wyatt. Then there was a huge ordeal at nine months when his wife began bleeding out from a placental abruption, and he had to rush her to the overcrowded hospital. Both mom and baby were fine, but the couple then decided the baby looked more like a Walter than a Wyatt.
“Seeing tons of blood coming out of your wife’s vagina as she’s nine months pregnant and in the hallway of an emergency room because there’s no beds… it was a nightmare,” Wilson recalls. “It was like your worst nightmare come true. It was absolutely horrifying.”
12. He thinks Canada is boring
Back in high school, when Wilson used to partake in Model U.N., he always hated it if he was assigned Canada. He says as much in the book, but when confronted on why he had this explanation: “Canada’s boring because they’re so friendly and they get along with everyone. When you play MUN you want to be one of those firebrand countries. Mix it up a little.”
13. Writing this book was largely about healing for him
“It’s not like I was sobbing over my keyboard, wrestling with my inner demons. But it does feel really healing to put it out on paper,” Wilson says. “I recommend it to anyone and everyone.”