Rainn Wilson is jovial and full of jokes when we meet at the 20th Century Fox building in NYC to promote his musical comedy The Rocker, which is in theaters now. The Office star, 42, is married to wife Holiday, and together they care for son Walter, 3.
In this interview, Rainn talks about family, fame and growing up with a “unique” name.
Ever regret that you didn’t become famous until later in life?
I’m happy the way it worked out. I couldn’t be more thrilled. I struggled for a long time, the first ten years of my career, and now things are taking off. I have no regrets that I wish this or that had happened. I’m a much better actor now than I was then. I needed to learn. Some people are like Leonardo DiCaprio and immediately brilliant at 19. I wasn’t that way. I was learning and being in the trenches.
What was your experience like growing up with a unique name?
I was tormented terribly for being named Rainn and mocked and that’s what made me the sad clown you see before? you. I do like my name very much. It came from my hippie, bohemian parents who lived on? a houseboat in the late sixties.
Did growing up on a houseboat sour you or make you love the ocean more?
I love the ocean. I’m a Seattleite. I like the mountains and? the ocean both. I still go back to Seattle. My wife and I have a cabin? up in Oregon.
How do you like to relax in your spare time?
I like to do this. [Turns around in chair and stares at me.] You’re wordsmiths. I leave it to you. I like to play tennis. That’s my new passion. I feel like an old? Southern Californian but I love to play tennis. That really? relaxes me. I also like to kill people on X-Box Call of Duty 4 and go online and shoot people in the face. I also find that very? relaxing. I also like to sleep.
Don’t you have a young son?
That’s not relaxing?
That’s not relaxing with the little one. That’s a workout. I love it, but relaxing, no.
Did you have rock star dreams?
I got to thankfully live through a little bit of a rocker nightmare, ?which was my probably shortest-lived high school band ever. I did two gigs with? my band Collective Moss; I wish I still had that flyer. We played two? gigs, one for a bunch of 11-year-olds who ended up stealing our patch? chords in a church basement. Then our second gig was an audition for? the Battle of The Bands, which we didn’t get into. That’s how bad we? were; we were not even in the top six bands at New Trier High School [in Illinois]. I was the singer.
What’s your best concert memory?
I never caught a drumstick and I’ve never been sweated on but I got to see Nirvana in their last U.S. concert and? that was a thrill for me as a Pacific Northwest Nirvana freak.
Did you go backstage and meet Kurt Cobain?
No, I? wasn’t a huge international superstar like I am now to throw my weight? around with my posse. My favorite concert memories are about the? music. I saw Radiohead last year and that was pretty awesome. Doing? this VH-1 Rock Honors The Who concert was just tremendous. I got to? meet The Who and they were idols of mine growing up. I just thought? Pete Townsend was the best and I got to interview Flaming Lips and? Dave Grohl and Pearl Jam. That was really awesome to be part of the? experience.
Did Christina Applegate mind being cast as a sexy mom?
This was her first sexy mom role, and I’m sure there will be many more. I think she knew, she was like ‘You know what, I’m late 30s now, it’s time for me to tip-toe into the sexy mom world.’ She’s amazing. She’s so deft with comedy, just a light touch, and she’s hot and smart and really cool. We had a blast. I’m really psyched, and now we’re both Emmy nominees.
Why should we see this film?
The Rocker is awesome. It’s The Awesomer. It’s The Rawesome. The Rocker is Rawesome. See I should do Fox’s work for them. It’s the first great heavy metal movie. It’s got it all. It’s got me macking on Christina Applegate, every man’s fantasy, it’s got great music, comedic hijinks, and it’s also got a lot of heart.