Revenge of the nerd

Aug 20, 2008 at 12:00 am

The guy who made the world safer for four-eyed freaks and brainiacs, as the definitive dork-turned-icon, Office star Rainn Wilson, readies for a big-screen close up in his first leading role as a middle-aged shlub turned over-night pop sensation in The Rocker. On a recent local press tour we spent a few quality moments with one of the rocking-est geeks the planet has to offer at the moment.

METRO TIMES: What was your extensive workout regimen for the role?

RAINN WILSON: I would do sets of sit-ups; I would do six sets of two sit-ups, then rest for a minute between. I was on the In-and-Out Burger diet and that was about it.

MT: That sounds like the Will Ferrell workout. It pays to be flabby in comedy?

WILSON: I will show my body to get a laugh at any time. I know I would get a laugh right now by taking my clothes off, but the hotel might frown on that.

MT: Christian Bale has to live on two grains of rice a day and run up a mountain. ...

WILSON: Not me. It's a beautiful thing.

MT: What's it like to be in a fake band with Will Arnett? Was there enough air in the room?

WILSON: (Laughs) He was perfect. There is no one better to play a preening egomaniac than Will Arnett. And I say that with all love.

MT: I think (the fake metal band within the movie) Vesuvius could have their own spin-off.

WILSON: We were talking about that on set. Those guys were so funny together and when they were rocking out it was like, "This is a whole other movie right here." It could be brilliant.

MT: Did you play any musical instruments coming into this?

WILSON: I was a total band geek. Recorder, clarinet, tenor sax. Then I was convinced by my teacher — and for some reason I agreed — to learn bassoon, and spent four or five years playing bassoon. I even played xylophone.

MT: Do you think you've waited long enough to reap the benefits of a new geek ascendancy?

WILSON: Yeah, I think I rode that wave, in fact I think I helped spearhead that whole "geekness being cool." I was picked as People Weekly's "sexiest geek of the year" or 50 sexy geeks, or something; I don't remember what it was. Yes, it is the age of the geek. We know that they control finance, commerce, computers, show business, music even. It's a very different world since I was going to high school in the '80s, when nerds were getting shoved into lockers by the idiot jocks that ruled the universe.

MT: And look at them now ...

WILSON: Yeah, they're all serving Slurpees somewhere.