Rainn Wilson Reveals His Surprising Unhappiness During The Office

By Charlene Badasie | Updated

rainn wilson
The Office

Rainn Wilson, known for playing Dwight Schrute on The Office, says his time on the show was marred by years of unhappiness because he failed to become a movie star. The actor made the revelation when speaking to Bill Maher on the Club Random podcast via Variety. “I spent several years really mostly unhappy because it wasn’t enough,” Wilson admitted.

“I’m realizing now, like, I’m on a hit show, Emmy nominated every year, making lots of money, working with Steve Carell and Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski and these amazing writers and incredible directors like Paul Feig,” Rainn Wilson continued. “I’m on one of the great TV shows. People love it. I wasn’t enjoying it.”

“I was thinking about, ‘Why am I not a movie star? Why am I, not the next Jack Black or the next Will Ferrell? How come I can’t have a movie career? Why don’t I have this development deal?” Rainn Wilson added, recalling his feelings at the time.

He was also dissatisfied with his salary, especially since Steve Carell’s career soared with the success of Little Miss Sunshine and Date Night.

“When I was on The Office, I was clutching and grasping at, okay, I was making hundreds of thousands. I wanted millions. I was a TV star, but I wanted to be a movie star. It was never enough,” Rainn Wilson added about his time on the hit NBC show.

the office peacock
The Office

Still, Rainn Wilson acknowledges The Office’s significant impact on its audience during its nine-season run. In October 2020, he and Carell made a joint appearance on the final episode of Wilson’s Hey There, Human Instagram Live series, discussing the unexpected resurgence of the show during the lockdowns imposed by the pandemic.

“One thing that’s been really gratifying for me is during this really dark time, I’ve heard from so many people that they’ve really appreciated having The Office,” Rainn Wilson said at the time. “It has a warmth and humanity to it, kind of a family feel that makes it a special thing and that’s helped them during this time, and even helped their mental health.”

Rainn Wilson says his time on The Office was marred by his mental health issues and his dissatisfaction with his career.

The Office premiered on NBC in 2005 and concluded in 2013. The series is a mockumentary-style sitcom that depicts the everyday lives of office employees working at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, a fictional paper supply company located in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The story follows the lives of various employees while being observed by a documentary film crew.

The central character is Michael Scott, played by Steve Carell, who is the bumbling and often clueless regional manager of Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch.

The Office gained popularity due to its unique humor, memorable characters, and clever writing. Along with Steve Carell and Rainn Wilson, the cast includes talented actors like John Krasinski as Jim Halpert, Jenna Fischer as Pam Beesly, and many others who brought their characters to life with great comedic timing and chemistry.

rainn wilson
Super (2010)

For his portrayal of Dwight Schrute on The Office, Rainn Wilson earned three consecutive Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

Since then, the actor has appeared in several films, including Peep World, Cooties, The Boy, Smurfs: The Lost Village, The Meg, Blackbird, and Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.

“I’m on one of the great TV shows. People love it. I wasn’t enjoying it.”

-Rainn Wilson

Rainn Wilson has also continued to appear on television in shows like Backstrom, Star Trek: Discovery, Mom, Transparent, Utopia, and Dark Winds. 

Rainn Wilson in Inappropriate Behavior

His next project is the comedy-drama film Inappropriate Behavior. The movie, directed by Tony Goldwyn from a script by Tony Spiridakis, features Bobby Cannavale and Robert De Niro in the lead roles.

The story follows Max Brandel (Bobby Cannavale), who destroys his successful career and marriage to become a stand-up comic. The movie also features Rose Byrne as Jenna and William Fitzgerald as Ezra.

Vera Farmiga, Rainn Wilson, and Whoopi Goldberg have been cast in undisclosed roles. Filming began in Westwood, New Jersey, and Jersey City in September 2022. However, the movie has no release date.

Apart from his acting career, Rainn Wilson authored an autobiography titled The Bassoon King in 2015 and played a significant role in the establishment of the digital media company SoulPancake in 2008.

In 2022, as part of his campaign to promote awareness about climate change, Wilson modified his name on social media platforms to “Rainfall Heat Wave Rising Sea Levels Wilson.”