Home Penny blacks Rainn Wilson on the meaning of life, America and The Office’s “rewarding” legacy

Rainn Wilson on the meaning of life, America and The Office’s “rewarding” legacy


As uptight as Dwight was, Wilson’s latest role sees him much more relaxed. Jerry and Marge go big is based on a true story. A retired couple from Evart, Michigan spot a flaw in their local lottery. They pool the city’s resources and then reinvest their earnings in the regeneration of the city.

“I loved the script when I read it because it was so uplifting and warm,” Wilson said. “Hollywood doesn’t make a lot of movies about real, small-town America. Nice people who believe in and help each other, trying to make the world a better place and having fun along the way.

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Wilson co-stars as Bill, a liquor store owner Jerry and Marge (played by Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening) buy their thousands of tickets. Bill has been described as everyone’s drunken uncle. Did Wilson base it on a specific drunken uncle he met?

“I have several drunken uncles. And drugged the uncles. And the drug-dealing uncles. But no, no one in particular from my family.

“I was trying to sum up who Bill is: a Hawaiian shirt, a little less lucky but still up for adventure. A bit of a loose screw, you’re not sure what’s coming out of his mouth next. Everyone has someone like that in their family.

Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening star alongside Rainn Wilson in Jerry & Marge Go Large.  Credit: Paramount+
Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening star alongside Rainn Wilson in Jerry & Marge Go Large. Credit: Paramount+

As Office, Jerry and Marge go big is about people and the communities they can build. At the heart of the story, Jerry finds a way to connect with people using his weird way with numbers.

Wilson has also used his gifts to connect with audiences around the world.

“I started in the theatre. I did 10 years before doing television and cinema. And it’s easier to connect because you’re in a big room with a group of people. If you make them laugh and you make them cry and you make them think, you bring everyone together in that room. I know it sounds cliché, but that’s the magic of acting.

“When I did Office, the thing that struck me the most was that I didn’t expect the number of people who thanked me for being on the show because it helped them in their lives. It brought them joy, it brought their family together. It distracted them when they were feeling anxious or depressed.

“Being part of a show that makes people laugh and makes the world a better place – it’s really rewarding. I feel really honored and really lucky.

“I think Jerry and Marge Is similar. That’s what the world needs right now, those kinds of stories. It has nothing to do with Brexit and has nothing to do with January 6th or gun control or abortion or red states and blue states – it’s just good old Americans doing nice things to each other.

In times of division, the message of unity is powerful, especially in America, which has particular notions about independence.

“America is very complicated because one of our central principles is E Pluribus Unum – among many others. But it was written when black people were slaves and women were not considered citizens. says Wilson.

“And we also have: Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. And I think that’s problematic. Life, we will put aside. Everybody wants life, duh. But if you’re looking for freedom and happiness, it has nothing to do with connection and community.

“Connection and community really bring out the best in America. So if it was life, community and connection instead of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we could have a different kind of society. So we have a lot of work ahead of us.”

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Right in front of Wilson right now is the feeling that he is entering a new chapter in his life.

“My son is 17 and in a year he will go to university. So my wife and I… what do we do without raising my son?

“Understanding this next chapter is important. And I see different ways my body is breaking down. My cholesterol is higher, I’m gaining weight, and my knee hurts all the time. What’s going on? My body miss.

“It raises questions of mortality – so there are big questions in this next chapter.”

Wilson is a deep thinker. He is a follower of the Baha’i Faith and hosts a podcast, metaphysical milkshake who has the easy ambition to find the meaning of life.

“I would say that looking for the meaning of life is something very important to me,” he says. “It’s something I’ve written a lot about and explored a lot. I am writing a book on spirituality which comes out next year. I think the biggest questions in life like, why are we here? and what is the purpose? can make our lives richer and better.

“For me, it’s connecting with people. It is finding ways to be of service to others. Go on an adventure, try to fill my life with gratitude and say yes to what life gives me. And I’ve been blessed in different ways to be able to do that.

Maybe he would donate his lottery winnings to a good cause.

Jerry & Marge Go Large is available to stream now on Paramount+