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Rainn Wilson, AKA Dwight Schrute, Took The Office Job to Afford a House

Despite The Office's successful nine-season run, Wilson struggled to be content at times.

By Gina Salamone

Sure, getting cast on a hit TV show that was based on a British series that you loved is cool — but what Rainn Wilson was really after when he signed up for The Office was simply to be able to afford his own home. 

How to Watch

Watch every episode of The Office on Peacock.

At least that's what Wilson said during his appearance on a recent episode of the Club Random with Bill Maher podcast. The confession came about while Maher was explaining that he used to record The Office (which is now streaming on Peacock) while he was working on his Real Time talk show.

RELATED: The Office’s Rainn Wilson Reveals Why He Almost Missed Out on Dwight Role

"It was the carrot at the end of my long work night," Maher said of watching The Office during its original run on NBC from 2005 through 2013. "It's like I am exhausted. I'm getting into bed... I know I DVR'd The Office and there's almost nothing as good as going to bed with an actual laugh, a laugh out loud. I feel like it's therapeutic." 

Wilson gets that a lot, apparently. "I think the word you used, 'therapeutic,' is really interesting because I can't tell you how many times a day online and in person, I hear from people, 'Thank you for The Office, the laughter that it gave me, that it gave my family... healed us during COVID,'" Wilson recounted. 

But the actor who played Dwight Schrute on the mockumentary sitcom didn't have all that in mind when he took the role. "When I signed up for The Office, it's like, I want to buy a house," he said on Club Random. "I wasn't thinking about giving laughter as a therapeutic remedy and a balm and a salve to a hurting populace. What an honor it was to be a part of something like that."

Rainn Wilson as Dwight in "The Office"

Of course, the opportunity to be a homeowner was not the only reason Wilson was excited to join the show. As he recently explained on a different podcast, the actor was psyched for the series before it even existed. He recently told Theo Von's This Past Weekend podcast that he was on his way to a table read for another show when he bumped into a TV executive who told him he was going to help make the American version of The Office.

"And I had seen the English version — I loved it," Wilson explained. And outside, I was like, 'Oh, that's great.' Inside, I was like, 'F-ck, I wanna be on that.'"

He landed the role of Dwight soon enough — getting nominated three years in a row in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category at the Emmys. But despite the show's successful nine-season run, Wilson struggled to be content at times.

RELATED: 9 of Dwight Schrute's Nerdiest Sci-Fi Moments from The Office

"When I was in The Office, I spent several years really mostly unhappy because it wasn't enough," Wilson told Maher. "This is what I'm looking at now, and I'm realizing now, like, I'm on a hit show, Emmy-nominated every year, making lots of money working with, like, Steve Carell and Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski and these amazing writers and incredible directors like Paul Feig. I'm on one of the great TV shows. People love it. 

"I wasn't enjoying it," Wilson continued. "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."

He eventually worked his way out of the funk though. "There's a lot of ways out of an emotional situation like that," Wilson said. "You can go to some therapeutic tools. You can look to positive psychology. You might say just common sense. Enjoy what you have."

These days, Wilson can be seen traveling the globe and looking for answers among the happiest societies on the planet on his Peacock series, Rainn Wilson and the Geography of Bliss.

You can also catch all nine seasons of The Office streaming now on Peacock.

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