Rainn Wilson takes on a new and daunting role of a police officer with his own demons
If you expect Rainn Wilson to be like the lovable geeky character Dwight from The Office, in a loud tie and shirt in Backstrom, then don’t. As Detective Lieutenant Everett Backstrom he plays a sexist, angry police officer who has just returned to the crime branch, after being demoted to traffic for being racially abusive. Also the producer of the show, Wilson tell us about the character, the and what it was like to switch from his previous roles.
How does the show fit in with racism and evidence tampering in the department?
There are a lot of crooked cops—and a lot of racist cops, but once you get to know Backstrom, you’ll see that it’s really not racism like you think of it. He hates himself more than anyone. So he’s racist against whites and blacks and any other race; and he is sexist against men as he is sexist against women. He just is an all-purpose hater.
Pick out his best quality.
His best quality is sensitivity and it comes from a history of abuse, abandonment and neglect. But he truly is a deeply sensitive person, just twisted and worked so much that it comes out sideways.
What was it like being Backstrom after Dwight?
Doing another TV show was the last thing I wanted after The Office. But the character of Backstrom just drew me in incredibly. It’s such a rich, multi-faceted character that I had to take it; and they don’t come along very often, especially for weird looking middle-aged character guys like myself. Hart Hanson (the creator) is an incredible writer who can balance the drama and the humor, the absurdity at the same time so effortlessly so it all fits in into a singular tone.
What makes the show appealing to the audience?
Firstly, you get to see me almost naked a lot! Secondly balances humour and the dark edge of the human condition nicely. And finally, every episode is surprising in some way. And then of course there is the terrific ensemble of actors. Dennis Haysbert and Page Kennedy and Kris Polaha bring a ton to their characters.
Your inspiration for this role.
The only inspiration that I had is growing up watching shows like Columbo and The Rockford Files. There’s nothing slick about this show— a quirky character struggling to get by, an anti-hero with major flaws who happens to be pretty brilliant at solving crimes.
What would you ask Backstrom in an interview?
I would ask him about his super power of how does seeing the very worse in humans allow him to see so deeply into the criminal mind.
Do you have any relatable quality to Backstrom?
Well, I am physically similar. I’d certainly be slovenly. I certainly have a predilection towards being addictive compulsive, and I definitely can be super insensitive as a person. You can just ask my wife. I think that would be a great question for my wife, actually.
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— Team Indulge