‘The Office’: Rainn Wilson Admitted Running Into Fans Can Be Weird: ‘They Just Come Up and Touch Me’

Few comedies of the 21st-century have the lasting appeal that The Office has eight years after saying goodbye forever. With a cast of memorable character actors who have since gone on to bigger things, going outside can be a chore when you’ve been on something that popular. Rainn Wilson recently opened up about interacting with overbearing fans without making them feel unwanted. 

Rainn Wilson smiling
Rainn Wilson | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Dwight Schrute and The Office

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According to the Fandom, Dwight Schrute was one of the series’ breakout characters. The Assistant Regional Manager in his mind and the assistant to the regional manager, in reality, Dwight had a Napoleonic lust for power which often alienated him from his co-workers while attracting jokes at his expense. Dwight was a fiercely loyal, often obnoxious, but secretly kind-hearted presence at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company for the show’s entire run. 

When the show began, he was the office equivalent of a school tattle tale, always trying to get on the teacher’s good side. However, over the next nine seasons, his character evolved into an eccentric beet farmer who always had his sights set on a life away from the office and off the grid. While that never fully came into fruition, a proposed spinoff series would have shown it to become a reality. 

While Schrute was never the outright star of the series, he may have been its most famous character. Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Mindy Kaling, and BJ Novak may have gone on to bigger things beyond the show, but their characters didn’t have the last impact that Dwight did thanks to his rampant awkwardness and Wilson’s phenomenal chops. Eight years after the character said goodbye, Wilson still appreciates its impact on the loyal audience.

Life after ‘The Office’ closed

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The Office has been off the air for nearly as long as it was on it. At the onset of the pandemic, in the pantheon of other series, such as Community, people decided to reexplore or finally caught up while everybody stayed inside. While most of the cast has gone on to some level of success beyond The Office, Wilson told NPR that he still misses the memorable experience of working on that set.

“I do sometimes [miss The Office]. I really miss collaborating with an awesome group of people — the writers were fantastic — and taking a scene and trying to bring it to comedic life. We always made sure that the scene kind of tickled us in some way. It’s digging into the dough and kneading the dough and being in the kitchen and cooking that stuff up. I don’t know that I’ll ever have that experience again the way that we had it on The Office.

However, there’s still a downside to being a part of it, and it has to do with those who fail to remember that there’s a living, breathing person behind their favorite lovable bootlicker. 

Stepping too far

While creating an iconic character like Dwight has plenty of upsides, sometimes it can be a nuisance. After weighing all the good that came from his time at The Office, Wilson noted the ways that fans occasionally go too far when they see him in public. These aren’t fans asking for autographs and pictures but violating his personal space and failing to differentiate between Wilson and the punching bag he played for almost a decade. 

“What’s interesting if you’ve been on a TV show is people think they get to touch you. They just come up and touch me. They’ll grab my hand or my arm, or they’ll put their arms around me. It’s like one of those Disney characters — it’s like when you see Minnie Mouse at Disneyland. And kids run just run up and just hug,” he said. 

It’s a story told so many times before. Like Jaleel White and other actors who had a hard time separating themselves from their quirky, eccentric on-screen personas, Wilson has had to learn to cope with a fan base who occasionally gets too comfortable. He still appreciates everything that The Office has provided him, but these stories help to show how fame can be a double-edged sword. 

Wilson’s story helps show us how fame is a double-edged sword. Yes, all the money, recognition, and steady work that stems from it are fun, but sometimes it can come at an ugly cost when fans don’t respect him as an individual, too.