Rainn Wilson, who we all remember as Dwight Schrute from The Office, is going to be on his own show, Backstrom. He’ll be playing a detective who has trouble relating with anyone and speaks his mind all the time. Basically it’s House as a police detective. Oh wait. That would be Sherlock Holmes, another character known for his sharp tongue and inability to tolerate anyone who he deems an idiot. That’s all well and good, but will we be just be seeing Schrute trying to play detective when we watch this show?
This is another case of an actor possibly having a role that might dog him in other shows. Wilson’s a good actor, but has Schrute ingrained himself in our minds and we may just have a hard time unseeing that. In other words, he might be pigeon-holed into Schrute-type roles if we can’t get past this. Sure, Jeremy Irons said that all actors get stuck in situations like that, but then again, Irons can say that, since he’s actually had a very diverse career. Hearing things like that must drive other actors nuts. It’s like Bill Gates saying that everyone struggles with money sometimes.
There are actors that only get certain roles. You’ll only see them as maybe a mafia tough goon as opposed to an intrepid newspaper reporter. That’s OK. You’ll know what you’re getting when you turn on the TV or attend a movie, but those tend to be the peripheral or background characters. Those people are immediately relegated to the background of your mind as you focus on the main characters. It’s more disappointing to see a more mainstream actor get out of that. For example, after the whole Avengers/superhero movie craze completely dies down, will Tom Hiddleston be able to get past the role of Loki? He may be fully embracing it now, but what about five years down the road? Is he still going to want to be remembered as the guy who got beaten down by the Hulk? (I admit I still watch this scene when I’m in a bad mood.)
I know that when I watch Backstrom, there are times that I might expect the camera to cut to a confessional-type interview and watch the detective try to explain what he did. Who knows? Wilson may surprise us all and manage to give us a side of him that we haven’t seen in The Office. People may look back at this piece and say, “What was he thinking?”
I’d love to be wrong here. Then again, people couldn’t catch me to tell me that, since as Schrute himself said, “I’m faster than 80% of all snakes.”