‘The Office’: Rainn Wilson Calls His Very First Audition for the Show ‘Awful’; ‘I Was Terrible’

Though the cast of The Office is chock full of talent, Rainn Wilson is certainly a standout performer in the hit series. For nine years, Wilson brought Dwight K. Schrute to life with flawless precision. A militant beet farmer and dedicated paper salesmen, Dwight’s eccentricities and over-the-top reactions make him one of the most memorable characters in the series and on TV in general.

The Office cast member Rainn Wilson on set as Dwight
Rainn Wilson | Justin Lubin/NBCNBCU Photo Bank

While it’s hard to imagine any other actor playing Dwight, it’s equally hard to imagine Wilson playing another character in The Office cast. However, when the actor was first auditioning for the show, he actually auditioned for the role of Michael Scott. In a 2008 interview with NPR, Wilson confessed that his Michael audition didn’t got well at all because he didn’t have a clue about how to approach the character.

Rainn Wilson originally auditioned for Michael Scott

“They keep wanting to put it on the DVD of my audition as Michael,” Wilson recounted about his very frist audition for The Office. “I was terrible. It was awful. It was never meant to be. It was just one of those things that I just basically did my Ricky Gervais impersonation because I really didn’t know what to do with the character.”

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Gervais, of course, played the “Michael Scott” character in the UK version of The Office. For the American version, Steve Carell would go on to play the character to perfection. Even though Wilson believed his Michael Scott audition was bad, when he learned about the character, Dwight, he knew immediately that he was the right actor for the role. He even found himself getting really excited about some of the lines he would have the opportunity to say if he were to play Dwight.

‘The Office’ alum knew he wanted to play Dwight Schrute

“And I knew I was hungering for Dwight,” Wilson recalled about his experience auditioning for The Office. “And I knew Dwight was the one that was right in my wheelhouse. And I was like, oh, let me at this one. This one is – I’ve got to get this guy. And I remember there was some monologue I was doing about how I could drink my own urine.”

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Fortunately, Wilson had developed a very good relationship with The Office casting director, Allison Jones. When she gave him the opportunity to audition for Dwight, he crushed his audition. Still, it was a long time before Wilson would learn that he earned the callback which would eventually lead to him nabbing the coveted role of Dwight.

The audition process for ‘The Office’ was extremely long

“Well, it was a very arduous audition process,” The Office alum confessed. “I was actually the very first person to audition for the show. Period. I had a good relationship with the casting director. And I came in and did my terrible Michael, and then I really hit a home run with Dwight. And then I kept calling – like, what’s happening? What’s happening?”

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Though Wilson’s audition process for The Office was an unorthodox one, things clearly worked out in his favor. We truly can’t imagine anyone else playing Dwight. However, we do hope that one day they release Wilson’s full audition for Michael Scott. We’d love to see Wilson’s take on the role.