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SUBJECT: The Rocker

Eighties band Vesuvius Rainn Wilson recently began shooting his fifth season on the successful sitcom The Office. As Dwight Schrute, the eccentric paper salesman whose ego knows no bounds, the actor has been nominated for his second Emmy for Best Supporting Actor this year. But in his latest movie, The Rocker, Wilson abandons his office desk for rock ‘n’ roll fame as the egocentric Robert ‘Fish’ Fishman, who was a drummer for Eighties band Vesuvius, before being kicked out of the group. Now, 20 years later, the desperate rocker joins his nephew’s band A.D.D., finally claiming the rock star status he always thought he deserved. Hollywood Hotline caught up with Wilson to discuss his rock fantasies.

Q: What was it about this role that attracted you?:
Fish joins band A.D.D.A: One thing I love about metal is just the sheer showmanship. I discovered Queen when I was 12 years old, and I loved Freddie Mercury and just that kind of balls out show performance of rock and roll. In every decade rock and roll starts to get very serious and navel gazing, and every once and a while it kind of needs a kick in the pants; and then it goes too far and it needs to get serious again.

Q: Are you into any of those bands now?
A: I love classic metal and I grew up listening to a lot of classic rock, I loved AC/DC and Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, but as soon as it started to get girly, as soon as they were wearing women’s blouses and eye liner, I call it guy-liner, and mascara, as soon as it went there then it kind of lost me and I was going for The Clash and Elvis Costello and some other more punk stuff.

Q: How tough was it to learn drumming?:
Drummer FishA: I took drum lessons with this guy named Stuart Johnson, who’s been in a lot of bands and we got to work for a couple of weeks before I went up to Toronto. He played me Zeppelin and White Stripes, and we worked on a lot of basic drumming, but then he also coached me on the specifics of heavy metal drumming which is a whole art form to itself.

Q: Did you also watch any old videos?
A: There was a lot of YouTube videos. Yeah, we had the computer out there in the garage where the drum set was and we would check out Poison or Rat or Cinderella and looked at what the drummers were doing. It was a lot of stick tricks. You know the metal drummers are all kicking ass with the audience, and getting them involved and into the music and pumping them up and stuff like that.

Q: Did you go to any live concerts for inspiration?
A: Yeah, we went to see Rush. There weren’t any really metal bands playing at the time when we were shooting in Toronto. We certainly didn’t have time. We were shooting 6 days a week, but we went to play with Rush and got to hang out with Neil Peart, and I got to actually play his drum set. That was a pretty rare privilege.

Q: Did you base Fish on any rock star or story?
A: No, Fish is just his own character. It’s not so much about the rock star. The way I thought of it, it’s a coming of age story for this guy who’s 40 years old when he finally gets to grow up. So it was really about the character of Fish, but all that drumming really informed the character because there’s something about a drummer that they just pound on something first and ask questions later. There’s a kind of an idiocy to the rock drummer, so that and the wig really informed who this guy was.

Q: Did you have any input into how you looked?:
Making a faceA: Yeah, absolutely. We talked about it a lot. For a while I was fighting to have a moustache and we talked about whether he should have short hair and how long he should wear the ponytail. We really wanted that one thing, which is when he starts to rock out he takes the ponytail and lets the hair come down literally. That’s when the movie kind of kicks into gear.

Q: Is there going to be a sequel?
A: Definitely. It’s going to be called Transformers 2! [which Wilson just finished shooting].

Q: How would Dwight react to being kicked out of a band? Would he react differently than Fish?
A: He would. He would probably blow up the band that kicked him out, or shoot them with a paintball gun, like right on their foreheads, or something like that. Yeah, that would be a little bit different.

Rainn Wilson, Josh Gad, Teddy Geiger and Emma Stone

Written by Judy Sloane - August 2008. Back to top

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Film Review, #699, August 2008 cover

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