We Love TV!
This is just an unofficial fan page, we have no connection
to any shows or networks.
Please click here to vote for our site!
Interview with Rainn Wilson of "Backstrom" on
It was great to speak with Rainn Wilson a second time! I
really love his show, and he does an excellent job with it.
FBC PUBLICITY: Backstrom Conference Call
February 4, 2015/1:00 p.m. PST
Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by
and welcome to the Backstrom Conference Call. At this time,
all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will
conduct a question and answer session. (Operator
instructions.) As a reminder, todayís call will be recorded.
Iíd like to turn the conference over to our host, Ms. Kim
Kurland. Please, go ahead.
Kim: Hi, everyone. I just wanted to thank you for taking part
in the call today with Rainn. As you all know, our next
episode of Backstrom airs tomorrow night, on Thursday, at
9:00. Starting a guest starring run in that episode is Sarah
Chalke, and Rainn can talk to you about what her character
I just wanted to correct one quick thing. You can ask one
question and one follow-up question, and then beyond that,
just hop back into the queue. So, Collin, I think we can
take the first question.
Moderator: Thank you. (Operator instructions.) Weíll go to
the line of Sarah Curtis with GiveMeMyRemote.com.
Sarah: Great to talk to you again.
Rainn: Nice to talk to you again.
Sarah: Alright, well, I really enjoyed the two episodes that
we saw that Sarah was in. I thought it was interesting Ė I
guess I was surprised at how affectionate Amy still feels
for Backstrom. Do you think he is as surprised by that, or
did they end things amicably?
Rainn: Thereís definitely a tension, there. Thereís an energy
between the two of them. Thereís a lot of love. I mean, they
almost got married. Theyíre still very attracted to each
other, even though Backstrom is a grotesque lump of a man at
this point in his life. I think that that was something we
wanted to play with, to learn more about Backstromís past
and sheís a door into his past because they were from 10
years ago, but also to show that Ė to show what he had lost
back in those days. That he had blown this potentially great
relationship that could have actually brought him some
modicum of happiness. And to play with the tension of the
possibility of a future between him and Amy.
Sarah: I agree. I was thinking her ability to kind of see
through him Ė do you think thatís what makes the
relationship work or ultimately fail or both?
Rainn: I think she sees the him inside of him. She sees the
real Backstrom. She knows the good hearted, warm, funny,
smart, kind Backstrom that is underneath all the scar tissue
that everyone else sees of Backstrom; the hateful, cynical,
guarded, offensive Backstrom.
Sarah: Well, great, like I said, it looks like a lot of fun.
Rainn: Thank you so much.
Moderator: We have a question from the line of Tiffany Vogt
with Seat42F. Please, go ahead.
Tiffany, your line is open. If your phone is on mute, could
you please unmute the line?
Tiffany: Can you hear me, now?
Moderator: Yes, we can. Please, go ahead.
Tiffany: Sorry about that. I was just curious about the
chemistry between all the different characters. They seem to
have such a familial feeling amongst all of them, which is
unusual for what seems to be characters that have just been
recently working together. How did you guys work to create
Rainn: Iím so sorry, I just missed the first part of your
question. The chemistry with whom?
Tiffany: All the different characters on the squad. They all
seem to have a very familial relationship with each other,
which is unusual for what seems to be a new unit that
theyíve been set up amongst.
Rainn: Well, I think that itís relatively new. When the show
starts, I think what was cut out of the pilot early on was
the fact that they had been working together for 6 weeks or
a couple of months. So they didnít know each other and they
have a working relationship.
The chemistry, obviously, is created by the actors, but
chemistry is also, really, created by the writer. Shows
where people lack chemistry, usually the chemistry is
lacking in the writing, that thereís not a sense of dynamism
between the characters. Both on The Office and in Backstrom,
both Hart and Greg Daniels focused a lot of time and energy
on how do characters relate to one another. In shows that
are a little bit more standard, like standard procedurals or
standard comedies, there are goofy characters, but a
different chemistry is created when you match any two people
together. Itís like flavors in a recipe.
So you get a very different feel with Backstrom and Almond
than you do with Backstrom and Gravely or Backstrom and
Neidermayer. Whenever you put people together in different
combinations, you want a different taste sensation.
Tiffany: Well, also as a follow-up, [audio disruption] sense
that, maybe, Backstrom has a secret handshake with each of
these characters. Like he has a secret relationship with
Rainn: Yes, but he also knows Ė heís very political; he knows
how to play people against each other. He might need to call
on favors Ė heís got some leverage on Moto Ė and he knows
how to play on peopleís weaknesses. So yes, he might have a
secret handshake, but he also kind of knows what heís got on
everybody at all times.
Tiffany: Well, itís fascinating. Thank you so much.
Rainn: Yes, sure.
Moderator: Next weíll go to the line of Suzanne Lanoue with
TV Megasite. Please, go ahead.
Suzanne: Hi, again. How are you doing today?
Rainn: Hi, good. How are you?
Suzanne: Pretty good. I was going to ask you if you could
play any other character on the show besides yours, which
one would you choose and why?
Rainn: Any other character on the show besides me?
Rainn: Besides the one that Iím playing?
Rainn: Thatís a funny question. What would I do? I guess Iíd
have to go with the other white guy, Neidermayer.
Suzanne: Youíre not limited.
Rainn: I would probably choose Ė no, I guess I would go with
Neidermayer. I like to consider myself a philosophical guy.
I was a philosophy major before I was an acting major and I
created Soul Pancake to dig into lifeís big questions. I
love his passion for forensics and his attempt to be almost
like Backstrom, to kind of see the transcendence through his
Suzanne: Okay, well, thanks a lot. I appreciate it. I really
enjoy the show.
Rainn: Oh, great. Thanks.
Moderator: (Operator instructions.) We have a follow up from
the line of Tiffany Vogt. Please, go ahead.
Tiffany: Hi, I just wanted to get a follow-up a little bit on
these relationships that Backstrom has. He also has a very
unique relationship with his roommate, Valentine. It seems
like they, themselves, have a personal history thatís not
been fully mined in the show yet. How much more are we going
to see of that?
Rainn: You are going to see a lot more of Valentine. Youíre
going to get to know him a lot better; youíre going to see a
lot more of him and Backstrom. Believe me, that relationship
between the two of them, that is very mysterious and is a
very interesting bond, is going to be really delved into. It
really is one of the most fascinating relationships in the
show. Itís the one, certainly, with the most emotion and the
most heart and gooey fun stuff to explore.
Thomas Dekker is blowing it away in the role. He just does
such a great job, and heís featured more and more as the
season goes along.
Tiffany: Okay. Also, following up, a little bit about your
character, Backstrom. It was advertised that he was going to
be a total dick. Then I watched the first three episodes
they provided for us and I went wow, heís actually a little
bit more lovable than I expected. Have you kind of had your
way Ė kind of softened him or make him more humorous and
inviting to the audience?
Rainn: You know, youíve got to have a balance between
relatable and likeable, in certain respects, and the
exploration of the character who has so many defenses, whoís
been so wounded that heís created all of these defenses
against the world. So youíve got to have a balance of those.
I donít think of it in terms of whatís unlikable versus
whatís likable Ė I just play whatís on the page and find
whatís driving him.
He definitely wants to push people away; heís cynical. Heís
addicted to pretty much everything, and addiction does that;
addiction pushes people away and causes chaos wherever you
go. I wanted to be true to that. But I also know he does
care. His heart is on his sleeve.
People compare him to House a lot, but House you never
really knew what he was feeling. Backstrom, you know what
heís feeling all the time. You can read him straight up. If
heís miserable or heartbroken or passionate about something
or vindictive or vengeful, you read his emotions. He wears
them on his sleeve. Heís like a big bleeding wound.
Tiffany: Thanks again. Itís quite fun to watch and see where
he comes out in the next few episodes with everybody else.
Rainn: Yes, sure.
Moderator: Next weíll go to the line of Renee Macek with
VoiceofTV.com. Please, go ahead.
Renee: Hi, Rainn. How are you?
Rainn: Hi. Well, how are you doing?
Renee: Good. So one of the things that I really love about
the show is I love the relationship between Backstrom and
Nicole, Genevieveís character. I always love when shows Ė I
think that a lot of good romances start when two characters
hate each other or dislike each other from the get-go. Do
you think that thereís any possibility for romance down the
Rainn: Romance with Gravely?
Rainn: No. That was one thing we talked about when we were Ė
we recast the role. Mamie Gummer played the role in the
original pilot, and that was one of the recast roles. Mamie
was a wonderful actress, but the role, as conceived
originally, was a very melancholy, dark, brooding, lesbian
character. So as we did the pilot and we realized how dark
Backstrom was and his energy, we realized that we needed a
completely different energy in the role. We just needed
someone fresh faced, by the book, enthusiastic, whip smart,
with a lot of energy. Thatís when we found Genevieve
Angelson, who provided all of those things.
But one of the things, early on Ė because sheís obviously so
young Ė we just thought itíd be a little creepy for
Backstrom and Gravely to get together. We also just wanted Ė
Hart and I kind of talked about it Ė letís just not have
that be one of theseó
I mean, the will they/wonít they energy is really fun on
television shows, and itís fun to tease that along in
X-Files and other shows where they tease it along for years
and fans love it. On Bones, he did that. He didnít want to
do the same thing on Bones that he did with Backstrom, and I
thought weíd look for a love interest in other places.
That would give her an opportunity Ė there are some episodes
coming up where Gravely gets to date and have a love life
outside of the unit. So you get to see some of that coming
Renee: Awesome. Just a quick follow-up, I just have to ask
who do you think would win in a battle of wits: Dwight
Schrute or Everett Backstrom?
Rainn: In a battle of wits?
Rainn: Well, Backstrom truly is brilliant. He truly has a
brilliant mind. Dwight doesnít have much wit or brilliance.
He has determination and hard work and a bizarre passion;
but Everett Backstrom, 100%.
Renee: Okay. Thank you so much.
Rainn: Sure, sure.
Moderator: Next weíll go to the line of Sarah Curtis with a
follow-up from GiveMeMyRemote.com. Here you are.
Sarah: Alright, thanks so much. Itís been nice to see the
support of the Portland Police Department, on Twitter, at
least, for the show. I just want to ask has that been nice
or kind of intimidating? Have you worked with any of them or
any other special crime experts?
Rainn: The only thing I wrote is Ė I wanted to have a beard
early on and I wrote the Portland Police Department and I
said do any of your detectives have beards and they said no.
I thought drat, so Iíll just have my regular stubble.
Itís been great. We follow their Twitter and their news feed
and Google alerts and have been learning a lot about the
world of Portland through them, through the Portland Police
Department. Itís been interesting reading about the real
life cases there in Portland and weíve learned a ton in that
I havenít been able to Ė Iím hoping that if we get a second
season and have a little more time to prepare, because I
finished The Office and I rushed off and shot the pilot,
that I could actually go visit the Portland Police
Department, visit the detectives, maybe do a ride along, and
get the lay of the land and learn some things procedurally
about the inner workings of the department.
Sarah: Thatíd be cool. Follow-up, I guess, more about the
episode and the relationship with Amy. Does Backstrom fear
being loved and not being able to successfully reciprocate
it or being unloved more? Which does he fear more?
Rainn: You know, they do a dance. Sheís in several episodes,
sheís in four or five episodes this season, and thereís a
strange dance that they do back and forth. Thereís
definitely interest between the two of them, there is an on
again, off again kind of feel, but I canít really tell you
more than that. Romance is definitely rekindled, and some
very interesting stuff goes down. Iím sorry to be so TV
Sarah: Itís okay, I get it. Great, thanks.
Moderator: Next weíll go to the line of Jim McFarland with
Detroit Metro Times. Please, go ahead.
Rainn: Hi, Jim.
Moderator: Mr. McFarland, your line is open, sir.
Rainn: He might be on mute.
Moderator: If your phone is muted, could you please unmute
the line, sir?
Jim: Okay. Better?
Jim: Okay. A couple of old questions. Why Portland, of all
the places it could have been set? And what was it, mostly,
that attracted you to this role?
Rainn: The reason Portland is Ė hold on one second, sorry Ė
the reason Portland is Backstrom is based on a series of
Swedish books. We wanted to kind of have a place that had
that same, we call it like Portland noir, it has a
Scandinavian feel where itís mossy and cloudy and dark and
thereís trees and water Ė it just has the little feel of
Scandinavia in it. We also wanted a city big enough that had
some real crime to deal with, but also a quirkiness. Itís a
dramedy that weíre making, and we wanted it to have a quirky
vibe about the show, and Portland has that Ė obviously, from
We can get to do some different kinds of crimes in the city
of Portland. Itís got a more eccentric nature. We have an
episode later on thatís with an indie rock band, and thereís
a lot of other cities Ė you canít really do an indie rock
band murder thing in Kansas City, letís say. I donít even
know if there are indie rock bands in Kansas City. So, it
gives you a lot.
Jim: What attracted you to the role of Backstrom?
Rainn: What attracted me to the role was its complexity. I
had been playing Dwight for years, and as great as they
wrote the part for me and as many colors as they found for
him, there are only a certain number of levels that Dwight
works on. Itís like he wants to run the office, he wants to
sell a lot of paper, he wants to torment Jim, be liked by
Michael, and wed Angela. That was it. Thatís the color
palette that youíre dealing with for 200 episodes.
For Backstrom itís so much more. Thereís family torment,
thereís fighting crime, thereís using his kind of
Sherlockian brilliance, there are potential love stories,
thereís his tormented relationship with addiction Ė there
are all these incredible things to play as an actor. When it
was offered to me, I just couldnít pass that up. It was just
too great of an opportunity. Parts like that are rare.
Theyíre just very rare.
Jim: Well, congratulations. Good luck with it.
Rainn: Thank you.
Moderator: We have a follow-up from the line of Tiffany Vogt
with Seat42F. Please, go ahead.
Tiffany: Hi, happy to talk to you again. I wanted to see if
there was something you felt like youíd learned from
inhabiting the soul of Backstrom?
Rainn: Any, Iím sorry, any things Iíve learned?
Rainn: Thatís a very good question. What have I learned? I
learned that I gain weight super easy in my old age. I
learned what hard work it is to really do the research that
you need to on the background of a character to really flesh
it out and bring it to life. I didnít ever want to be
generally grumpy or generally cantankerous or surly. I knew
that if I was generally just grumpy, cantankerous, and
surly, people would just get bored with that. This is a
tormented person and it comes out. His emotions spew out
sideways, like vents out of the side of a volcano. But
youíve got to build that inner lava before you can Ė Iím
going to go, totally, with this volcano metaphor right now Ė
in order to really explore those.
Tiffany: Have any of the stories that you guys are working on
for the show really kind of giving you chills? It seems like
the show embraces some real dark storylines.
Rainn: Dark storylines Ė whatís the question, Iím sorry?
Tiffany: Does any of it kind of give you the chills? When you
look at these stories and go wow, are we actually showing
this on television?
Rainn: Iíd say not the chills, no.
Tiffany: Iím thinking of [indiscernible] an episode coming
Rainn: I would say that I was Ė as I read some of the
episodes that really dug into this family story, especially
the stuff with his dad, and it got really dark. I was like
wow, are we going to be able to be this funny and this dark
at the same time? Because Iím very, very interested in that.
Thereís this Russian playwright, Anton Chekov, who I did a
lot of work with when I was in college and as a young actor.
I love Chekovís work because theyíre both really tragic and
really, absurdly funny at the same time. They really reach
for both; both live in the world of Chekov, and itís very
reflective of the human experience.
Thatís where I do get the chills. Itís like wow, we get to
be that silly sometimes and also that dark and true.
Tiffany: Again, itís an interesting shade for the show. I
appreciate it; weíre looking forward to seeing where that
Rainn: Thank you.
Moderator: We have no lines in queue at this time. Please
Kim: Okay, that works out well, timing-wise, for us, as well,
too. So if there are no more questions, I think weíll wrap
it up there. Collin, if you just want to give replay
instructions so that if anybody needs to hear this later,
they know how to do that?
That does conclude our conference for today. Thank you for
your participation, and you may now disconnect.
Rainn: Thanks, everybody. Bye-bye.
Back to the Main Articles
Back to the Main Primetime TV Page
We need more episode guide recap writers, article
writers, MS FrontPage and Web Expression users, graphics designers, and more, so
please email us
if you can help out! More volunteers always
Page updated 3/11/15