Above: Rainn Wilson lets his hair down for The Rocker.
Fans of Rainn Wilson's offbeat, hilarious and strangely endearing performance as Dwight Schrute on NBC's The Office might expect him to transition into film work with straightforward comedy, and The Rocker confirms that suspicion. However, they might not realize the serious professional motives behind his choice. In the movie, directed by Peter Cattaneo (The Full Grown Monty), Wilson plays a grown-up dolt named Fish with a scary fixation on classic rock. Abandoned by the band Vesuvius in his teens -- before they became a commercial phenomenon -- Fish spends the next twenty years working deadbeat jobs and wishing things happened differently. Naturally, he gets a second chance: When the opportunity rolls around to drum for his nephew's high school, Fish goes for it. Ageism and slapstick humor ensue.
While not exactly a classic, The Rocker proves Wilson has the charisma to carry a movie. The script could use some polishing, but Wilson manages to play a completely dysfunctional human being without ever becoming an annoyance. It's a testament to his skill as an actor with calculated timing. The humor emerges from the naturalism of his performances, which make you believe in the outlandish characters he portrays. In a conversation with Cinematical recently, Wilson elaborated on his particular strategies as his career advances, reminisced about his days as a New York theater actor, and shed some light on a few upcoming projects.