“Office” Star Speaks About Religion, Gives Crowd Second-Hand Baha’i
Hundreds of UC Irvine students packed into Crystal Cove Auditorium to see actor Rainn Wilson from the popular television show “The Office” on June 4.
Wilson, who plays Dwight Shrute, a hapless assistant to the regional manager on the show, was invited by the Baha’i Club of UCI to talk to students about the Baha’i perspective on human rights.
“I feel like Bono!” Wilson said as he graced the stage. His enthusiasm was met with uproarious applause and endless camera flashes from the crowd.
Attendees fixated on every movement and noise he made, laughing especially at Wilson’s persistent badgering of and irritation with the audio-visual technician who could not resolve the continuing sound shortage issues with the microphone.
“I’m going to kill that guy,” Wilson joked. “Baha’i kills AV on campus after talking about world peace. Details at 11.”
Although distracted, Wilson captivated his audience by extending his comedy into an explanation of his faith and its emphasis on overall social justice. He quoted from the founder of the faith, Baha’u’llah and spoke about the multicultural unity of other world religions as an aspect of Baha’i.
“One of my favorite things about [the Baha’i faith] is your obligation to an independent investigation of truth,” Wilson said.
Wilson recounted his rebellious, chain-smoking twenties as a starving artist who did not believe in God. Eventually, his life changed and Wilson rediscovered both his faith and career.
“A lot of wounds can be healed through comedy,” said Wilson.
Wilson then opened up the floor, allowing for questions regarding both the Baha’i faith and his acting career. Wilson answered questions regarding a spin-off of “The Office,” his uncertainty about the future of “Dwangela,” and his inability to be John McCain’s running mate, due to an unfortunate complication with his faith that prevents any Baha’i member from holding office.
Although members of the Baha’i club sharply rebuffed a request by the New University to speak to Wilson, the amiable actor notified his fellow Baha’i members that he would not mind responding to press inquiries. The irony of Wilson’s speech of acceptance and some Baha’i members’ impoliteness was not lost on the New University.
“It was awesome,” Wilson said in regards to his first college lecture, “People were really receptive. As you could hear, people have a lot of questions about God and justice, and the nature of reality and spirituality and [they] have a great sense of humor at the same time … it was a great experience.”