Why The Office’s Rainn Wilson Produced A Streaming Version Of His Latest Play

Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute

It's no secret that streaming services have changed the world of TV forever. Places like Netflix and Hulu are producing new and exciting content, and networks have been challenged to step up their game as a result. But the inception of streaming services has also extended into the world of theater and Broadway. The new website BroadwayHD is doing just that, filming and streaming live theater productions from Broadway and other major theaters. The latest release is a fascinating one man play Thom Pain, starring The Office's Rainn Wilson (aka Dwight Schrute). But rather than a live stream, the performance was filmed in advance and edited into a finished film product. So why did Wilson chose to go this route?

I recently had the chance to speak with Rainn Wilson about Thom Pain on BroadwayHD, where I asked him why he decided to bring this unconventional play into people's living rooms. He told me,

Well, I saw the original production of Thom Pain about 12 years sago off broadway in New York City, as played by James Urbaniak, who oddly enough was on The Office years later played Rolf, Dwight's best friend. And I fell in love with the play, I really wanted to do it. I knew someday I'd do it. I knew the playwright, Will Eno. Him and I had actually been roommates in New York City. So an opportunity finally came up, where I had some room in my schedule and we jumped in.

It looks like Rainn Wilson has been eager to do this particular play for well over a decade. But given his busy schedule with the final few seasons of The Office, as well as his recent appearances in shows like Star Trek: Discovery had kept him too busy. But once his schedule had the appropriate opening, he made sure to finally get that bucket list role checked off.

Luckily for him, Rainn Wilson's go in Thom Pain will now be immortalized forever. While most plays (including Broadway) come and go without being recorded for distribution, Wilson will forever have this particular dream role saved in a stunning film form.

Rainn Wilson also revealed how the thought of filming Thom Pain came to be. While BroadwayHD typically specializes in streaming live performances, Wilson wanted to do something unique with his play. He told me,

This one was a little different. We had the choice to (live) stream it, but for the budget we said let's just film it. Let's make a film of it. So we literally spent many performances filming, and sculpting this performance to a film. So we shot it. We shot it on the stage with me just talking to the camera, we had an audience of background actors that we could shoot from the audience. We shot many of the actual performances, we shot backstage. So it's like a little film. It's a film that captures a theatrical event.

It looks like Rainn Wilson wasn't just content playing a dream role and having it filmed for prosperity. The Office and Six Feet Under alum also wanted to try something different with streaming. So he filmed the Thom Pain over and over again, allowing savvy editors to piece together a wholly original experience. And the results are pretty remarkable.

You can catch Rainn Wilson in Thom Pain on BroadwayHD, after either a monthly or yearly payment to the service. Additionally, you can always binge watch his iconic tenure as Dwight Schrute in The Office over on Netflix.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.