Rainn Wilson rocks his way into leading movie role

Tue Aug 19, 2008 5:40pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rainn Wilson understands the luckless drummer he portrays in new movie "The Rocker" because they both spent so many years on the outskirts of fame.

But when the movie opens on Wednesday, Wilson for the first time will enjoy Hollywood's limelight as leading man in a major studio comedy, joining the ranks of top comic actors such as Steve Carell, Will Ferrell and Jack Black.

Wilson, 42, labored for years on Hollywood's backlots in guest roles on television and small movie parts but three years ago he won the recurring role of oddball salesman Dwight Schrute on the NBC sitcom "The Office," which stars Carell. Since then, Wilson has gained his own fans and become a star.

His status may take another leap with his portrayal of Robert "Fish" Fishman in "The Rocker."

"I really felt for this guy who gets a chance to grow up, gets a second chance at fame and gets to finally live his dream," Wilson said of his character.

"I was an actor for a long, long time before I had any real success. But I was always working so I can really relate to someone late in life getting a shot at celebrity," he said.

Fishman is a former drummer from a 1980s metal band who languishes in obscurity until he joins his nephew's teenage garage group. Think of a Bon Jovi wannabe joining a group of aspiring Jonas Brothers.

When the band gets signed to a record deal, Fishman lives out his dreams as a rock star on tour, pounding back beers and partying in hotel rooms -- much to the dismay of his younger but more mature bandmates.   Continued...

<p>File photo shows Rainn Wilson at the 6th Annual TV Land Awards in Santa Monica, California, June 8, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Pizzello</p>