'The Office' star Rainn Wilson reveals the song that changed his life

'It was a like a gong going off'
Rainn Wilson
Photo credit Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

The Office star, Rainn Willson might be known for his acting on one of the most beloved shows of all time, but it was music that directed him down that path. Wilson recently joined NPR’s Bullseye podcast with Jesse Thorn to reveal how music played a role in his pursuit of an acting career on a special segment titled, The Song That Changed My Life.

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The Song That Changed My Life: Rainn Wilson
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After moving from Seattle to Chicago in high school, Wilson, who labeled himself as a  “stereotypical nerd” had a life-changing moment in drama class. Tasked with bringing a private moment to public in front of his class, Wilson danced around to “Mystery Dance,” by Elvis Costello just as he did in the privacy of his own room at home.

“I put on the record and I put on ‘Mystery Dance’ and I lip synced to it,” he shared. “[I] just went crazy. My body was jerking, I was salivating. I was like, furious twerking and spasming and some air guitar and a little bit of a snarl.”

What sounds like a chaotic performance turned out to be the talk of the drama circle as Wilson recalls a loud applause and attention from students he’d never connected with before.

“All of a sudden, these outrageously attractive drama-nerd girls were shaking my hand, patting me on the back and saying ‘Hey, what’s your name? You just moved here. Come sit with us at our lunch table.’”

He continued “I’ll never forget the sensation. There was a very particular and peculiar thing that happened in my brain. It was a like a gong going off,” he reminisced. “ [I remember thinking,] ‘This is my path, this is it. I’m not looking back, this is what I’m going to do.”

Hear more about Wilson’s vivid memory and how Elvis Costello inspired other parts of his life by tuning in to his conversation on the Bullseye with Jese Thorn podcast above.

Bullseye podcast from NPR is your curated guide to culture. Jesse Thorn hosts in-depth interviews with brilliant creators, culture picks from our favorite critics and irreverent original comedy.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images