Rainn Dietrich Wilson (born January 20, 1966) is an American actor, comedian, writer, director, businessman, and producer. He is best known for his role as Dwight Schrute on the American version of the television comedy The Office, for which he earned three consecutive Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
Wilson was born at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, the son of Shay Cooper, a yoga teacher and actress, and Robert G. Wilson, a novelist, artist, and business consultant who wrote the science fiction novel Tentacles of Dawn. Wilson has Norwegianancestry. From ages three to five, Wilson lived with his father and stepmother, Kristin, in Nicaragua before they returned to Seattle after their divorce. He attended Kellogg Middle School and Shorecrest High School in Shoreline, Washington, where he played the clarinet and bassoon in the school band. He transferred to and graduated from New Trier High School after his family moved to Wilmette, Illinois, to serve at the Bahá'í National Center.
Wilson attended the University of Washington in Seattle, graduating with a bachelor's degree in drama in 1986. He then enrolled in New York University's Graduate Acting Program at the Tisch School of the Arts where he graduated with a MFA in acting and was a member of The Acting Company. While acting in theatrical productions in New York City, he drove a moving van to make ends meet.
Wilson worked extensively in the theater in his early career, performing with the Public Theater, Ensemble Studio Theater, Playwrights Horizons, The Roundabout, and The Guthrie Theater, among others. He was nominated for three Helen Hayes Awards for Best Supporting Actor for his work at the Arena Stage.