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

"Sometimes a rejection and a disappointment is ... a path forward where other doors can open," Wilson says of landing the Dwight Schrute role. 

By Gina Salamone

If not for a different show getting the axe before it even began, someone other than Rainn Wilson may have brought Dwight Schrute to life on The Office. As the actor and comedian explained, he was all set to take part in another series when a chance run-in — and some bad luck with that project — set him on a different path.

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Watch every episode of The Office on Peacock.

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"I was supposed to be on this Janeane Garofalo TV show," Wilson, who starred as Dwight on all nine seasons of The Office, recently told Theo Von on the This Past Weekend podcast. "And on the way to the table read for it, I ran into this TV executive, and he's like, 'Oh, I'm so excited, we're gonna do the American version of The Office.' And I had seen the English version — I loved it. And outside, I was like, 'Oh, that's great.' Inside, I was like, 'F-ck, I wanna be on that.'"

How did Rainn Wilson get the Dwight role on The Office?

He was attached to a different pilot, but when it fell through, he was free to audition for The Office.

Rainn Wilson The Office4

Wilson was on board for the other series that was to star Garofalo, but things didn't go as planned. "Janeane's lovely, it's not about her," Wilson noted. "But the pilot wasn't very good. We read the pilot. Bob Odenkirk was in it ... And Marc Maron. And the read through went so bad, they pulled the plug on the spot. By the time I got home, they were like, 'They're not shooting it.'

"And, inside I was like, 'I get to audition for The Office.' Sure enough, a month later, auditioned for The Office, and got Dwight a few months after that. So, ya never know, kiddies. Sometimes a rejection and a disappointment is a good thing and it just is a path forward where other doors can open."

Thankfully, Wilson got to audition for the NBC mockumentary sictom, which ran from 2005 to 2013, and the rest is history. The quirky Dwight was a central character from the start, working his way from salesman and assistant to the regional manager at the Scranton branch of paper company Dunder Mifflin, to regional manager in the final episodes.

Racking up three Emmy nominations in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for playing Dwight, Wilson knows he had a good thing going. "I never thought I'd have a better show than The Office," he said on the This Past Weekend podcast. "Nine seasons, 200 episodes, everyone got along, made a big impact, was funny as hell, it's a great character, great money, fun people everyone." 

All nine seasons of The Office are now streaming on Peacock.

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