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11 Quick Questions for Rainn Wilson

‘The Office’ actor writes his third book, ‘Soul Boom: Why We Need a Spiritual Revolution’

spinner image rainn wilson with face leaning against left hand; orange background
Kwaku Alston/Peacock TV

Rainn Wilson, 57, who played curmudgeonly Dwight Schrute on The Office, is a deeply spiritual eco-activist who wants to inspire others with his third book, Soul Boom: Why We Need a Spiritual Revolution. The book — which includes more than a few Star Trek and Kung Fu references — encourages readers to connect with a higher power through prayer and meditation. And fun fact: He’s a proud AARP member. “I cherish my card and carry it with me everywhere,” he says.

What’s one new habit for people to create more space for meaningful spirituality?

I think morning meditation and prayer is very basic, but the effects are tremendous. In prayer, we’re communing with the divine force that’s within us, without us, above us and beyond us. And meditation is being still and receptive to whatever answers we might be getting. Even if you’re just able to take 10 minutes in the morning … that simple act can be incredibly transformative.

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What does spirituality mean to you, and how does it show up in your life?

I’m talking about qualities of the soul, of the divine. My favorite quote of all time is by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. He famously said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” We are spiritual beings, and the fact that we’ve got 80, 90 or 100 years in our meat suits, if we’re lucky, means that spirituality is anything having to do with our reality, which is a divine one, a soul-centered one.

The book is peppered with Star Trek references. You’ve guest starred on Star Trek Discovery and have directed an episode. Were you a fan growing up?

spinner image book cover that says soul boom why we need a spiritual revolution, rainn wilson
Wilson's third book explores the problem-solving benefits that spirituality can offer in an increasingly challenging world.

I was a huge Star Trek fan growing up. As I was putting the book together, I realized that so much of what I wanted to say about societal spiritual transformation could be found in Star Trek, because it is about seeking out new life and new civilizations and boldly going out into the universe.

Last year, you changed your name on social media to Rainnfall Heat Wave Extreme Winter Wilson to raise climate change awareness. Do you have other initiatives in the works?

I'm on the board of a climate nonprofit called Arctic Basecamp, and they're currently doing a campaign with Global Citizen. You can go to and become an arctic defender. Arctic Basecamp compiles hard data from science around the changes that are happening in the Arctic, and we have our scientists try and meet up with heads of state and heads of corporations.

The Office still has a huge fan base. What characteristics do you share with Dwight Schrute?

Well, I never fit in very well, but I was a little different than Dwight. I was a little bit more of a straight-up nerd. I’ve already talked about my love of Star Trek, but also Dungeons and Dragons, and other nerdist pursuits, like playing the bassoon. I was on the chess team. So I would say that our main point of unity is a kind of social awkwardness.

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You host the upcoming Peacock docuseries, Rainn Wilson and the Geography of Bliss. How is it different from other travel shows?

Getting to do this show for Peacock was amazing. To travel the world, talk to people about happiness and try to figure out what brings people joy and bliss from other cultures and how we can bring that back to our lives here in America. … It was really one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. We met so many incredible people in Thailand, Ghana, Iceland and all over the world. It’s a really fun way to experience travel. Instead of the lens of food, which so many travel shows are about, it’s through the lens of happiness.

spinner image rainn wilson as dwight schrute holding phone and screwdriver in a still from the office
Wilson starred as curmudgeonly Dwight Schrute on all nine seasons of the NBC hit show, “The Office.”
Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Where did you feel the happiest while filming?

We went to Iceland, which is truly one of the happiest places. My friend, the actor Darri Ólafsson — he was in the movie The Meg with me — hosted a feast at his house. All of the people we interviewed came together and drank Icelandic beer, had a giant roast pig over a spit and ate fermented shark and other Icelandic dishes. It’s about family and community and the people around you. We’re social creatures … eating and singing together and sharing and hugging. That’s what it’s all about. That is where we find our greatest point of bliss.

What do you do for fun?

I’m in a local USTA tennis league. I play [level] 3.5 men’s doubles competitively. It’s super challenging and really super fun. We have a fun group of guys doing that. That’s my number one kind of outlet for blowing off some steam.

Did you really live in a haunted house as a child?

Yes, I did. I lived in a haunted house on the coast of Nicaragua when my parents were living there as members of the Baháʼí Faith and pioneers. I was only 4, so I don’t really remember it. But every night, the furniture in the house would get dragged around by spirits because they’d be in different places in the morning. It wasn’t the monkeys doing it.

If you weren’t an actor or author, what would you be doing?

I always thought I would be a high school English teacher. Now it’s probably more of a drama or acting teacher, but I still think there might be a chapter in my life when I drop all this and I just go teach at some high school or college, direct some plays and talk about the love of literature and storytelling.

Any bucket list items before your 60th birthday?

I would like to go to the Galapagos. I’d like to go snorkeling with weird sea creatures.

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