Rainn Wilson is best known for his role as Dwight Schrute on "The Office," but the actor takes a dramatic turn in "Hesher," where he plays a pill-popping, mentally-absent father.
Wilson recently talked about "starving" in New York before getting his big break and why he wanted to be involved in the dark and "risky" film.
"This is a risky film! I read the script, I'd never read anything like it before," Wilson told OnTheRedCarpet.com. "[There is] so much heartbreak and grief and darkness, but at the same time, there's so much crazy humor. I love how the film balances those things at the same time."
"Hesher" follows metal-loving Hesher who hates everything except homemade tattoos, cigarettes, fire and blowing things up. He embarks on an unlikely friendship with a troubled boy named T.J. who is being raised by his pill-popping father (Rainn Wilson) at his grandmother's house, following the death of his mother. Hesher mentors T.J. in a less-than-ideal manner of living and a local grocery clerk named Nicole (Natalie Portman) steps in to protect the boy.
"I play Paul Forney, he's just lost his wife, he's got a lot of grief, he's pill-popping, he's living on his mother's couch," Wilson explained. "I've never lost anyone really close to me, thank God, so I haven't experienced that so much, but I am a father and I know what that's like, I know how profound that relationship is and that was one of the crucial things about this story, is that that relationship be believable - that father and son. They're very disconnected in the film, especially at the beginning, but that's something I was able to access."
While Wilson, 45, is best known for his comedic roles on "The Office" and in films like "The Rocker," "Juno," he says that it's less about the genre and more about the type of character that draws him into a role.
"I'm really excited at this opportunity to play this part and other parts that are more serious, that's what I've always wanted to do! I want to play these great characters, I want to play the freaks and the oddballs and the weirdos and the losers, whether that's in a serious drama or in a comedy and I'm so lucky that I get to do it."
Wilson studied theater at Tufts University, the University of Washington, New York's Tisch School of the Arts and The Acting Company in New York. While in New York, the actor worked as a waiter and appeared on Broadway before moving to Los Angeles and landing the role of a mortician's apprentice on "Six Feet Under."
"I was doing little parts in New York and starving and waiting tables for years, so I'm always on the side of the underdog and want to help out good, young filmmakers and be a part of cool, interesting projects."
"Hesher" is scheduled for a limited release on May 13, 2011. Watch a trailer for the movie below.
Reporting by George Pennacchio of KABC Television and special correspondent for its entertainment show "On The Red Carpet" (check for local TV listings).