As Dwight Schrute, the obnoxious German sales rep with a superiority complex second only to his boss Michael Scott (Steve Carell) on NBC's comedy hit "The Office" (2005-13), actor Rainn Wilson took that most coveted of roles - the guy you love to hate - and ran with it, chewing up the scenery with his überdork proclivities and hyper-intense observations of his co-workers. His hysterical rounds of kiss-up to Carell's arrogant Scott were among the most gut-busting scenes in a show chock full of them. Wilson's comedic skills, coupled with a distinctive bespectacled look and a range of goofy facial expressions, helped make him a fan favorite and highly bankable star in other genres, including as big screen second banana in films like "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" (2006), "The Last Mimzy" (2007), "Juno" (2007) and "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" (2009). But it was his turn as the egotistical Dwight that earned him a legion of diehard fans and numerous award nominations, while propelling his career to the next level.
Born Jan. 20, 1966, Wilson grew up in Seattle, WA, but attended high school in Illinois. He attended college at Tufts University and the University of Washington before studying acting at New York University's graduate acting program. He joined The Acting Company and Arena Stage, performing off-Broadway in "Titus Andronicus," "Twelfth Night" and "Venus," as well as on Broadway in "London Assurance" and "The Tempest." He also co-created and directed the sketch comedy/clown show "The New Bozena" in New York, later directing a short film version of the stage show and creating an unsold pilot presentation to the Fox network.
One of Wilson's first acting jobs was on the soap opera "One Life to Live" (ABC, 1968-2012) and he followed that gig with appearances in a handful of feature films, including "Galaxy Quest" (1999), "Almost Famous" (2001), and Steven Soderbergh's "Full Frontal" (2002). Later big screen appearances included the action adventure comedy "Sahara" (2004) opposite Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn and Penelope Cruz. He also made a slew of appearances on network television, including bit parts on "Dark Angel" (Fox, 2000-02), "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," (CBS, 2000-15), "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ) and "Numb3rs" (CBS, 2005-2010)," but Wilson's biggest television breakthrough ended up being on HBO's "Six Feet Under" (2001-05) where he made a tremendous impression playing the odd mortician Arthur Martin, an unlikely romantic interest for series lead Frances Conroy. He also had a memorable one-episode stint on HBO's comedy "Entourage" (2004-2011) in 2005, playing a Harry Knowles-esque Internet journalist who uses his clout with the fan-boy fringe to influence how star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) is required to deal with him.
Wilson's role of the delightfully self-important Dwight Schrute on the American version of the British cult favorite series "The Office" (NBC, 2005-13), where he is an unwitting recipient of antagonism by his Dunder-Mifflin co-workers, was patterned after the character of Gareth, played by Mackenzie Keenan in the original BBC production. However Wilson created a wildly unique comedic character in its own right. Dwight earns the ribbing he gets with his strict by-the-book ways and constant insertion of himself as the second-in-command to boss Steve Carell ("It's Assistant Regional Manager - not Assistant TO THE Regional Manager") and the two performers quickly developed a brilliant comedic give-and-take that became the centerpiece of the series' more outrageous moments. On July 19, 2007, Wilson received a well-earned Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
As the show's devoted fan pool continued to grow, Wilson was given opportunities to expand his résumé outside of Dunder-Mifflin. In 2006, he was cast in the Luke Wilson/Uma Thurman comedy "My Super-Ex-Girlfriend," directed by Ivan Reitman, in which he portrayed Wilson's repugnant loser friend Vaughn Haige. While the film ended up a summer box office disappointment, the edge was taken off when the third season of "The Office" resumed in the fall to stellar ratings and a fast expanding fan base. Wilson wrapped up a good year by writing and starring in his own dark comedy, "Bonzai Shadowhands" (2006), in which he portrayed a retiring ninja, as well as a cameo role in the critical darling, "Juno" (2007). The following year, Wilson landed a supporting role in the entertaining fantasy "The Last Mimzy" (2007), directed by New Line head honcho, Robert Shaye. After playing a failed drummer given a second chance at fame in "The Rocker" (2008), he was a sleazy college professor in the blockbuster "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" (2009) and voiced the alien overlord Gallaxhar in the animated "Monsters vs. Aliens" (2009). Meanwhile, Wilson continued to receive well-deserved accolades for "The Office," earning his third consecutive Emmy nod for Outstanding Supporting Actor in 2009.
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Made Broadway debut in "The Tempest"
Co-created (also directed) the sketch comedy and post-modern clown show, "The New Bozena"; made directorial debut with a short film based on the show
Appeared on Broadway in the comedy "London Assurance"
Early acting debut on the soap opera "One Life to Live" (ABC) as Casey Keegan
Made feature film debut in the sci-fi comedy "Galaxy Quest"
Starred as the hippie producer, Bill Harris, in the highly acclaimed film, "Baadasssss" directed by and co-starring Mario Van Peebles
Television breakthrough role as Arthur, the odd mortician and love interest to Francis Conroy on "Six Feet Under"
Appeared in the comedy "Sahara" opposite Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn and Penelope Cruz
Cast as the neurotic Dwight Schrute on NBC's American version of the British cult favorite series "The Office"; earned Emmy (2007, 2008, 2009) nominations for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Had a memorable one-episode stint on HBO's comedy "Entourage" playing a Harry Knowles-esque Internet journalist
Had a supporting role as Luke Wilson's best friend in the Ivan Reitman comedy "My Super Ex-Girlfriend"
Played a science teacher in the family feature, "Mimzy"
Had a bit part in the Oscar-nominated film "Juno" as a drug store owner
Played a failed drummer who is given a second chance at fame in "The Rocker"
Nominated for the 2009 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series
Played a sleazy college professor in the big-budget film "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen"
Voiced the villainous alien overlord Gallaxhar in the computer-animated 3-D feature, "Monsters vs. Aliens"