Rainn Wilson will almost certainly have the name “Dwight Schrute” attached to his career long after any of us are quoting The Office on this mortal plane, but the actor really seems to appreciate that no one expects him to bring beets and Battlestar Galactica to every role he takes.
The actor’s latest role, as a scientist on Amazon’s Utopia, is another very different role from the paper salesman that has served as the biggest gig of his career. And unlike many offbeat character actors, Wilson has been able to expand his catalog of roles considerably in the years since The Office left NBC, both on network TV and in a variety of smaller indie movies.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter about Utopia, Wilson was asked about the range of characters he’s been able to play in his career. And he admits that he’s very fortunate not to have been typecast as an office weirdo after his massive success playing just that.
“Yeah, I have been very fortunate. I’ve gotten to play a whole bunch of really cool, awesome roles that are very, very different from Dwight over the last seven years,” Wilson shares. “Whether it was Backstrom, which was my failed show on Fox, or my indie films that no one has seen, I’m very proud of my work as an actor; it’s been great. I’ve been really astounded and happy about that.”
Still, the actor does appreciate the accolades and love he’s seen from Office fans, noting that the “Netflix effect” that’s kept the show at the forefront of pop culture for far longer than anyone anticipated.
The popularity of the show, especially with young people, is ridiculous; I’m talking 10-11 year olds. It’s preposterous. So I don’t know what’s going to happen when it leaves Netflix and goes to another streaming service that people don’t necessarily want to subscribe to, but it’s been an incredible ride. I’m just grateful because I think we made a terrific show that’s got a lot of heart. It also moves people and makes them laugh. It’s been a great balm for people during some really trying times and I hear that all the time. I get messages on my social media — hundreds a day — just like, “Thank you for this show. It’s helped me so much during this time.”
There’s a lot more to the quote Wilson gives about The Office‘s relevance and what it’s done for his career. He even briefly evaluates his feelings about the show’s popularity when it aired, and he makes a pretty good joke about Bones to boot. But just like everyone who has Netflix but not Peacock, Wilson seems to understand the value of appreciating something while also knowing that, eventually, you just have to move on.