A weekly look at SoCal life covering news, arts and culture, and more.
Hosted by John Rabe
Airs

Rainn Wilson on Baha'i, acting, being a 'Bassoon King' and... round worm





Listen to story

16:10
Download this story 15.0MB

... Actually, we're not even going to mention the time Rainn Wilson was in Nicaragua with his family and a round worm exited his body. It's just too gross. But it's in his memoir, "The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy." In disturbing depth.

However, we do talk about his painful upbringing by two loving parents who didn't love each other, how he fell from and returned to his Baha'i faith, his zonkey, his love of "Taxi" and "Barney Miller," his horrible, horrible grandfather who didn't get struck by lightning, and why he acts. Also, we sing, so you'll want to listen to the audio for the full effect. Here are some of the highlights:

On his awful grandfather, Chester

"He was a pretty horrible man. It's hard for me to find anything redeeming about him. He was a multimillionaire who stole his brother's lightning rod electrical company business from him. The brother went on a long vacation and signed over the paperwork to his brother, Chester... and then he came back and Chester was like 'Oh, it's all signed over to me, belongs to me now, sorry, you're out.'"

Wilson remembers that his grandfather was a member of the Seattle Yacht Club, but never tried to assist Wilson's family, who were living in shabby rentals and driving beater cars "on the verge of exploding."

On the loveless marriage between Wilson's father and stepmother

"My birth mother took off to have a series of affairs, relationships, and marriages. I didn't really see her again until I was about 15. My dad got immediately remarried. ... A year in they knew that they didn't love each other, and then they stayed married for 15 more years after that. So, it's a very peculiar kind of torture for a child to grow up in a family that seemingly has all these normal things; we watched TV, we ate pancakes, sometimes we took Sunday drives, we visited relatives... but at the same time, in that house itself, there was no love. There was no hugging, and laughter, and passion, and all the things that come with love. So that's kind of a crazy-making situation." 

But Wilson's father and stepmother raised him on the Baha'i faith...

"...where all the writings are about love and unity," says Wilson. Wilson's father met his second wife in Nicaragua while doing religious work in the jungle villages of the Mosquito Coast, "filled with monkeys and mosquitoes and malaria. And quicksand. Actual quicksand." Wilson left the Baha'i faith, but returned to it and now prays and meditates daily. 

From the nerdy "Bassoon King" in high school to a television star on "The Office"

"I have always felt like a misfit. I think that's what growing up in a weird, stilted, oxygenless home will do to a person. I always loved comedy. I loved the crazy sidekick characters and all the great '70s and '80s TV shows, and [it was] beyond my wildest dreams that I ultimately got to play one."

"Taxi" in particular left its mark.

"It bridged that gap between comedy, and it had so much pathos and reality woven into it at the same time, and you really felt like these were real characters. It brought the sitcom a little bit more into the real world, in a similar way that 'The Office' did."