Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Rainn Wilson Is Reinvented on 'Backstrom,' Backed by Canadian Showrunner

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Rainn Wilson Is Reinvented on 'Backstrom,' Backed by Canadian Showrunner

Article excerpt

Rainn Wilson is reinvented on 'Backstrom'


PASADENA, Calif. - Viewers may be taken aback when they get their first look at Everett Backstrom.

The surly TV detective will be introduced Thursday on the new Fox series "Backstrom," which also airs in Canada on City.

If he looks a little familiar, it's because the actor who plays Backstrom starred for nine seasons on "The Office" -- Rainn Wilson.

Except Backstrom doesn't look much like Wilson's annoying "Office" weirdo, Dwight Schrute.

Backstrom looks grimmer, with a week-old beard and a sloppier demeanour. Dwight's high forehead has been covered with shaggy bangs. Plus there always seems to be a cigar in Backstrom's mouth.

Backstrom's personality is not unlike that of Dr. Gregory House, the cranky MD who was a Fox fixture for nearly a decade. Both seem to be brilliant at their jobs but with very bad attitudes.

While Wilson may not have been on too many top-5 lists to star in a weekly TV drama, he was on Hart Hanson's.

The writer and showrunner behind "Bones" saw Wilson a few years ago in a small independent film called "Hesher" and barely recognized him.

"I went, 'This guy is an amazing, chameleon actor,'" said Hanson, who grew up in Canada and graduated with degrees from both the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia.

Hanson became aware of Swedish author Leif G. W. Persson's series of detective novels, which inspired a TV series. Hanson was tasked with doing a North American makeover. Like "Bones," he sees "Backstrom" as a "crimedy," a mix of crime, snark, character and a touch of comedy.

Hanson set his version of the series in Portland, Ore., which he figured shared some northern sensibilities with Sweden (the series is actually shot in Vancouver). Casting being everything, Hanson and pilot director Mark Mylod ("Shameless," "The Affair") quickly went after the names on their "impossible" list, with Wilson's at the top.

The actor still had three or four days to go on the final episode of "The Office" when his agents called about doing another series.

"I almost fired them on the spot," he told reporters at this month's annual winter press tour.

After shooting more than 200 TV episodes, Wilson was ready for a break. He was urged, nevertheless, to read Hanson's pilot script, and became hooked. …

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