Wilson sheds Dwight’s dweeby out-of-date hand-me-downs on The Office for a completely different fashion era—the 1980’s—the decade of decadence, hairspray, “guy liner,” leather pants and animal prints, to play a washed up heavy metal drummer holding on to his dream of making it big in The Rocker.
From his paper company desk job to rock n’ roll fame, Wilson takes on the role of a big, sweaty, out of control—and sometimes naked—Robert “Fish” Fishman who gets a second chance at rock superstardom. Hollywood.com recently sat down with Wilson to talk about living the rock star dream, kissing the hot girl, wearing Spandex, and of course his penchant for being naked.
Hollywood.com: What a change to finally see you in clothes after the MTV Movie Awards and your soon-to-be infamous naked drummer scene in The Rocker.
I love to use my enormous pale flabby torso for comedic effect [laughs]. So any time when called upon I will expose myself for a laugh. It’s been making women laugh for…well, the last at least 20 years [smiles].
HW: Speaking of clothes, or lack thereof, your character, Fish, in The Rocker sports some pretty awesome ‘80’s rocker gear like Spandex and leopard prints. Did you get into that look during the height of the hair metal era?
No, not at all! In the early ‘80s I discovered punk and New Wave. I was kind of going down that road—totally into The Clash and Ska and then Black Flag and X and L.A. punk bands. And I completely missed it. But I will say that growing up I was a huge fan of classic metal. I love Ozzy, Judas Priest and Led Zeppelin and all that stuff.
HW: You looked like the real thing to me. Tommy Lee’s got nothing on Fish! Did you know how to bang the drums before you got on set?
Oh, thanks! I had a musical background—I played some guitar and some other instruments, so I could read music, so I was learning the charts and stuff like that. And you know I got two or three weeks of drum lessons. I had a drum set in my trailer!
HW: Did you get to keep it?
Yeah, I got to keep the flame drum set from the movie—the A.D.D. drum set.
HW: And I understand you were in a band in high school.
Yeah, I was in a band in high school called Collected Moss—yeah, the rolling stone collects no moss. A really bad cover band. I was the lead singer. And the reason I knew that we were bad was that after a gig someone was like “Oh, your voice is really cool. It sounds like Lou Reed’s.” And I was like “Oh, thanks.”
HW: Was there a specific drummer or rock star that you channeled to create the Fish character?
Boy, that ‘80s stuff. I really loved Freddie Mercury growing up and then moved over in the late ‘80s to Kurt Cobain. So I missed that whole ‘80s thing…
HW: And the hair and makeup is so authentic. Was that your real hair?
No, it was a wig. It was a great wig that they made. They went to one of the best wig makers and they spent a lot of money on the wig. We said No. 1, it’s all about the hair.
HW: And black eyeliner of course.
Yeah, I loved it! We called it guy-liner [laughs].
HW: Ever thought about growing your hair out ‘80s-style after playing Fish?
My hair will not grow. My hair is ridiculous and it starts to just go up like it appeared Partridge family way…It starts to turn into a weird curly fro type of thing, so it’s not like sexy long tresses.
HW: What attracted you to playing the role of a crazy rocker?
Well, the thing was I was reading the script and I read all the comedy of it and the pit falls in the ridiculousness of situations.
HW: And the nakedness!
And the nakedness, of course! But then you know I was really actually kind of moved by it. It’s really heartfelt and I really loved the journey that he takes and you know it’s got a lot of heart. He grows up and the kids grow up and learn something, but not in a maudlin way or a sentimental way. I was really attracted to that.
HW: And you got to kiss Christina Applegate. Not too bad.
Not too bad. Got to smooch with Christina Applegate. What more can you ask for? [laughs]
HW: What was it like to work with her—the Kelly Bundy, who will always be known as the ‘80s hottie?
She dated…god, some lead singer for a while… I think it’s on her Wikipedia page. She dated a big heavy metal guy. She’s part of that world, you know. She’s great! I mean, she’s been one of the funniest, greatest, comedic actresses for so long and at the same time she’s just totally cool and mellow and a lot of fun to hang out with.
HW: Are you looking forward to going back to The Office? There’s a lot going on now with you and Angela rekindling the old flames.
That’s right. We’ll see what happens. I have no idea how any of this is going to go down. At some point I’m going to go in and meet with the writers and talk about story ideas for next year. But I have no idea where they’re taking this. But I trust them. They are the best writers in the business.
HW: Are you glad they’re back together? I know the fans must be.
Yeah, we’ll see. I mean, I don’t know that they’re back. I think that they’re just fulfilling the carnal side of their needs right now. I don’t know that they’re like BACK!
HW: What do you think Amy Ryan added to the finale?
She’s fantastic and everyone is such a huge fan of hers on the show. I’ve known her for years back in New York and from her work on The Wire and stuff like that. I don’t know, you know, I know that they want her on the show. I’m not sure if her movie schedule allows it, but she’s just a great fresh presence.
HW: What’s up next for you?
Well, I’m doing a couple days on Transformers 2. That should be fun. I’m playing a college professor. That’s all I know. I hope that he gets to turn into either a car or a robot. I don’t know if they’re going to work that in… I had never seen a Michael Bay movie in my life and I really should start with Transformers 1 probably to get prepared, but I love the idea of doing just a giant big-budget movie like that and just doing a small part in it. You know, it’s just basically a cameo and I enjoy doing that kind of thing. So, you know, I was like “What the hell.”
HW: Well, all of us can only dream of being a rock star and a Transformer and you now have done both.
I know. Yeah! Nice! And then I’m writing a few projects and we’ll see what happens next.
The Rocker opens in theaters Aug. 20, 2008