A Conversation with Rainn Wilson

Principally about his Bahá'í faith, but also about cinema, the nostalgias of middle-aged men, Emma Peel, Master Po and Master Han, and various other matters...


Rainn Wilson is an actor who has appeared in so many films and television programs that it is unlikely he needs much introduction. His best-known role is almost certainly that of Dwight Schrute in the American version of The Office. He is also a writer and podcaster. And he is a genuinely lovely guy. Here our conversation chiefly concerns not his professional, but rather his spiritual life. Many of you may know—though I suspect a majority do not—that he is a practicing member of the Bahá’í Faith, and was in fact raised in the tradition.

Of course, other topics came up as well, many of them having to do with memories of a vanished and now essentially mythical epoch, the early 1970s. Given that he and I are nearly the same age, and inasmuch as middle-aged men are almost invariably sentimentalists about their childhoods, it was impossible for us wholly to avoid spasms of pathetic nostalgia.

If I seem a tad bibulous and inarticulate here and there, I ask your pardon. I may have been a little giddy during the recording, as I had been liberally dosed with both a muscle-relaxant and a strong pain medication; I had pulled a muscle on the right side of my neck. But I like to think I soldiered through, sustained by the pleasure of good company.