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Rainn Wilson Describes The Time He Sat Next to a Fan Watching The Office on a Plane

Wilson, who played Dwight Schrute, told Jimmy Fallon that after five hours, he turned to his seat mate and asked him what he thought of the sitcom.

By Samantha Vincenty

If you've seen even one episode of The Office, you'd probably be able to identify the show's most outlandish character: Beet-farming Dunder Mifflin employee Dwight Schrute. But would you recognize Rainn Wilson, the actor who brought Dwight to life, out in the real world? One of the sitcom's fans didn't realize that he was sitting right next to Dwight Schrute while he was binging the series. 

How to Watch

Watch The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on NBC weeknights at 11:35/10:35c and next day on Peacock

Wilson recounted his strange experience, which he captured in an Instagram story at the time, during his April 2023 visit to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

While Wilson joked to Jimmy Fallon that it must have been "a slow news day" when his Instagram story first went viral, he can't deny how surreal the run-in was. "I was on a flight from Boston to L.A., and so it was five-and-a-half hours, sitting next to a gentleman who—for the entire flight!—watched episodes of The Office back to back to back to back."

RELATED: Every Guest Star on The Office, Seasons 1-9

It's important to mention that, as is evident in the video, Wilson was wearing a mask that obscured his Schrute-ian features (and his seat mate was clearly absorbed in the onscreen goings-on at Dunder Mifflin). It was a uniquely strange situation. 

"I was like, what do I do? Do I talk to him about it?" Wilson remembered wondering. "Should I even say anything? I had my COVID mask on, so I was incognito."

Rainn Wilson on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Episode 1838

Rainn Wilson didn't know what to do when he sat next to someone watching The Office 

"He had no idea?" Fallon asked Wilson.  

"No idea, the whole flight," Wilson confirmed—and in the video, the passenger is eating Captain Crunch while enjoying the series, taking no notice of the man sitting next to him. 

"So I nudged him towards the end, and then I was like, 'Uh, so you seem to like that show a lot.' And he's like, 'Yeah.'  And I was like, 'Yeah, I heard it kind of sucks,'" Wilson continued. "And he's like, 'Well, you know, it kind of starts slow in Season One. You got to get used to it, but you'll warm into it.'

Ultimately, Wilson decided to let his seat mate in on the joke.

"And I was slowly, slowly lowering my mask like one of those French girls, you know?" he went on. "And I was like, 'Oh, the first season's kind of slow, huh?' And he's like, 'Yeah.' And I was like, 'Oh, it takes a little while to warm into the characters?'

Then it clicked. 

"It took him, like, 47 seconds of talking to me," Wilson told Fallon. "And then all of a sudden, it was one of those face-melting brain explosions."

You never know who you'll met when flying the friendly skies. 

RELATED: The Office's Angela Kinsey Made the Sweetest B-day Post for TV Husband Rainn Wilson

How do I watch old episodes of The Office

You, too, can binge The Office—even though Rainn Wilson almost certainly won't be sitting next to you while you do it. 

Stream Seasons 1-9 of The Office in their entirety on Peacock anytime