Last night about 350 lucky Atlantans got the opportunity to see an advance sold-out screening of Rainn Wilson’s new comedy The Rocker. Not only was the comedy an outrageous, feel good treat, but Mr. Wilson himself was there to answer questions from Atlanta Music Guide and the audience.
Atlanta was one of a few select cities to host such a screening and Q& A event; we did not disappoint. At one point Rainn even commented on the audience’s un-harnessed energy, joking “You’re all crazy! This audience is like a 1976 The Who concert in Cincinnati. I think you’re all ready to rip the seats out.” Perhaps the audience was still excited after watching the movie, partaking in Midtown Arts Cinema’s adult beverages, or the fact that even though he was exhausted from flying, Rainn Wilson took the time to chat with them.
Rainn is best known as the sarcastic sidekick, Dwight Schrute, on NBC’s mega-hit comedy “The Office,” but the frequent TV scene stealer is now taking his brilliant comedic timing to the big screen. The Rocker marks Rainn’s first starring film role, but not his last.
The following are excerpts from Rainn Wilson’s Q & A, which was moderated by Iain Bluett (AMG & Ticket Alternative President) and includes audience member questions. With his quick wit and charm, Rainn interacted comfortably with the audience and his fans, making sure that even if they couldn’t leave with a photo or autograph they at least left with a smile.
Atlanta Music Guide: Is this your first time to Atlanta?
Rainn Wilson : No actually, I lived here for awhile growing up. My dad sold cars outside of Atlanta in the suburbs at a Toyota dealership. Does anyone know of a Toyota dealership a little north of here? That’s the one he worked at.
AMG: How was this movie to make?
RW: This was a tough one to make. We got the green light and then we had three months before pre-production, which was only six weeks. The actual shoot was seven weeks and it was brutal. We had 15 hour days, six days a week, with a fast turn around, and the call times kept being pushed back. By the end our call would be 8 or 9pm and we wouldn’t finish until 3pm the next day. It was really fun and really hard.
AMG: Did you know how to play drums before the movie?
RW: No, I had to learn to play drums. I had a drum set delivered to my garage and got a teacher, who actually was a part of the rock hair band Spanky Lee. I watched a lot of heavy metal drummers, too. The songs for the movie were being composed during the six week preproduction time, so I was having to learn those as they came in. I also had a drum kit in my trailer. Basically I was very sweaty, and stunk a lot during that time.
Guest: Was the entire movie filmed in Cleveland?
RW: It was almost all filmed in Toronto. About two days were shot in Cleveland, but if it were up to me I would have done the whole thing in Cleveland.
Guest: What’s your favorite 1980’s band?
RW: I not really into hair metal. It would have to be Echo & The Bunnymen, Joy Division, and Gang of Four.
Guest: How do your kids feel about "The Office" and The Rocker?
RW: Well, I have one kid and he’s three, so he’s cool with it. When he complains about me going to work, I tell him I have to work to pay for his pre-school.
Guest: How was it kissing Christina Applegate?
RW: It is every male’s fantasy to kiss Kelly Bundy; and that’s how I explained it to my wife. It took about eight takes.
Guest: What was your favorite part of filming the movie?
RW: My favorite part was the arena and concert scenes. We were really playing to an audience of 12,000 extras all screaming for us…although they were paid to. It was just really fun.
Guest: Have you gotten to meet any real rockers?
RW: It’s been great promoting the movie, because I have met several rockstar guys. I interviewed Pete Townscend for VH1, and I got to do some comedy scenes with Slash for iTunes.
Guest: Did the movie help you live out your rock star dreams?
RW: I was in a band called Collected Moss, when I was younger. We were awful. Our first gig was playing to a bunch of eleven year olds in a church basement. We couldn’t even make it into our high school’s battle of the bands. Luckily, I’ve had a lot more success with acting.
Guest: This looks like a very physical role, were you injured at all?
RW: I’m a delicate flower. I did do a lot of my own stunts, and one day I realized my entire torso was bruised.
Guest: There were a lot of indie comedians in the film that you’ve worked with before and that are on NBC. Was that a conscience choice to include so many different comedian cameos?
RW: We wanted everyone in the movie to be funny. There were several things we were adamant about: we wanted the music to be really good, the band to be believable, characters to feel real, and most importantly everyone to be funny. A lot of times in the movie it is the people around me that are carrying the humor. As for the other comedians, we were just trying to get the best comedy ensemble we could.
Guest: Who was the most fun on The Rocker and "The Office" sets?
RW: For The Rocker, the fat kid [Josh Gad]. He is so funny; we got along great. Also, Jason Sudeikis. On "The Office," I like everyone. If I had to pick one, it’d be Angela [Kinsey]; we have such a blast. We always have a great time and I adore her. She just had a baby and good news: her husband is the father.
Guest: What’s your favorite curse word?
RW: Um…douche bag pretty much works for everything. However, I want to enter a new word into the lexicon for buttocks: thigh caps. Think about it. They really are thigh caps. Help me spread that around, will ya?
Guest: Were you at all tempted to stray from the script on The Rocker? Throw in some improve?
RW: Yeah, we definatley did a little. We do that a lot on "The Office." But with fim, there are so many other pressures including lighting and camera positions, so it is a little harder.
Guest: What is your favorite role?
RW: Good question. My worst one was on "Charmed" when I played Kierkan the Alchemist. One of the “better” ones was on "Dark Angel," where I played a street sweeper who was actually a superhero with magical legs.
Guest: Had you ever played Guitar Hero before The Rocker? Was it hard?
RW: I’d never played the game before. What you are watching on the screen in really me learning it. It was also hard, because Christina [Applegate] is a master at it. She plays it all the time.
Guest: Were there any divas on the set?
RW: Yeah, the fat kid. There were no divas. These kids were all so cool. Emma [Stone] could’ve been a diva, because she is pretty, funny, superstar, but she wasn’t; she was so cool.
Guest: Do you have any upcoming projects?
RW: That is a plant question. I just did a day on Transformers 2 playing a College Professor. I go back to "The Office" in two weeks and we’re going to do 28 episodes. I also just turned in a second draft of a movie I’m writing called Bonzai Shadowhands to Jason Bateman (Juno). Hopefully we will shoot that next summer.
The Rocker is rated PG-13 and hits theaters August 1. Check out more pictures from last night!