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Hipster activist in disguise: Dwight Schrute.
Enrique Limón

Bahá'í Five!

The Office's Rainn Wilson talks adobe, oppression and Oprah

July 11, 2012, 12:00 am

Appropriately, it was a cat-and-doggish evening last Saturday, when actor Rainn Wilson graced SFUAD’s Forum to introduce a special presentation of Education Under Fire, a documentary that explores the educational plight of Iran’s Bahá’í population. The largest religious minority there, members of what Wilson refers to as “the faith with the weird name” have not been allowed to attend university since the Islamic Revolution—and so, in 1987, the ballsy and very DL Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education, which the doc revolves around, was born. 

Before the presentation, SFR chatted it up with the devout Bahá’í actor, and from the soon-to-be-Schrute-tastic spinoff The Farm to pee parties, no topic was off limits.

SFR: What’s the importance of this documentary?
RW: Wow, hard-hitting questions right off the bat. This is a human rights issue that not many people know about. I had never really thought about preventing education as [violating] a fundamental human right, but it is in the United Nations charter. It’s a very insidious way to hold people down—to deny them the basic right of getting an education—and this specific kind of persecution in Iran towards the Bahá’í has been going on for 25 years.   

It’s important that we get the word out, and this film helps do that. The importance of why the film and not just a website or a lecture, or something like that, is because the arts can move people’s hearts. And it resonates in a much deeper level, and it was a very exquisitely made, very beautiful film.

Are people surprised to see this deeper side of you?
They are, a little bit. They’re like, ‘What’s the weirdo from that TV show doing with human rights causes, or writing and talking about spirituality?’ But I have to be me, and that’s part of who I am. I like to think about deep things, and I have soulpancake, a website about thinking about deep things. I have causes that I believe in and that I’m passionate about, and that’s just a part of who I am and doesn’t preclude me from playing dorky weirdos on TV shows.
You’re also rockin’ the beard now...
Yeah, this is the hiatus beard. It prevents me from getting recognized in public; it really helps out with that a good deal.

You recently got a chance to high-five Oprah. Can you describe that moment?
Yes! When Rainn Wilson and Oprah Winfrey high-fived, a new universe was born and sprung into being. Oprah and I are working together; soulpancake does much stuff for her channel, OWN. We’re looking at doing a pilot together, and we’ve kind of gotten to know each other a little better—which seems kind of crazy.     

What does she smell like?
Fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.

Like a puppy?

What’s the latest on The Farm?
We’re starting casting. It’ll be shot as an episode of The Office, and you’ll get to meet some other members of Dwight’s family, and we will see if NBC wants to turn it into a show. The setup is Dwight running the beet farm and the bed and breakfast on the farm.

When was the last time you ate beets?
I eat beets all the time. I actually truly love beets. Even in college, I would eat borscht. I lived in New York City, and there’s Ukrainian restaurants everywhere, and you can get a bowl of borscht for $1.75. It will fill you up and is good for you. It kind of makes you pee a funny color, though.

That’s always a party.
Yeah, a pee party.

Make sure to send me an invite. Finally, how do you think Dwight Schrute would describe Santa Fe?
He’d say something like: It looks like the construction was made out of people playing pattycake in mud, and that the first rain or windstorm would probably knock most of those strange adobe hobbit huts over. He would either do that, or he’d say ‘Wow! This is like Hobbiton, where the hobbits live in their little hobbit houses.’    


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