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The untold truth of Dwight Schrute

The Office may have shut its doors in 2013, but Rainn Wilson's hilarious portrayal of Assistant (to the) Regional Manager Dwight K. Schrute remains a part of the pop culture consciousness. After all, Dwight is a hard-hearted geek, a wannabe martial artist, a neo-fascist salesman, and an absolute lapdog to Regional Manager Michael Scott, and Wilson's performance created one of the most well-loved misanthropes in TV history.

Initially based on Gareth Keenan (Mackenzie Crook) of the original UK version of The Office, Schrute went on to become his own unique freak. He's the kind of guy who distrusts everyone but Michael, yet he's willing to believe faxes from Jim Halpert claiming to be Dwight from the future. He's loud, intense, and a hilarious collection of complex contradictions that combined to make one of television's most memorable dunces. However, even though Dunder Mifflin might have closed down a while ago, there's still a lot you might not know about the owner of Schrute Farms. From who almost played the character to the ways art wound up imitating life, here's the untold truth of Dwight Schrute.

Dwight Schrute could've been Seth Rogen

Dwight Schrute and Rainn Wilson seem as inseparable as beets, bears, and Battlestar Galactica. As difficult as it is to imagine anyone other than Wilson playing Dunder Mifflin Scranton's fire safety chief, it's utterly impossible to contemplate what would've happened if one famous comedian who auditioned for the role had actually gotten it. 

In 2013, the final season of The Office was released on DVD, and included in the extras is a short video revealing some of the actors who auditioned for the series. Among other noteworthy surprises, Bob Odenkirk of Better Call Saul fame auditioned for the role of Michael Scott, Kathryn Han tried out for Pam, both John Cho and Adam Scott took a crack at Jim Halpert. But perhaps most surprising of all is that Seth Rogen tried his best to land the part of Dwight Schrute.

We don't see much of Rogen in the clip. He talks about the benefits of cleaning someone's wounds with urine, and then the video moves on to Odenkirk doing Michael Scott. But what we do see of Rogen makes it clear he wouldn't have been within a galaxy of the same character Wilson gave us. Reading the same line, Dwight would be obnoxious and condescending, speaking as if he were delivering the lesson to a child. Rogen seems absolutely likable, not very bright, and not at all Schrutish — kind of like Kevin the accountant if he knew a few more factoids and was awake for more of the day. 

Rainn Wilson wanted to be the regional manager

Throughout the course of The Office, Dwight Schrute both worships Michael Scott and has ambitions for his office. And in one of the many ways in which life imitates art, Rainn Wilson didn't initially audition for the role of assistant (to the) regional manager. He wanted to be the big dog himself.

Much like Bob Odenkirk, Wilson went into his audition taking aim at the role of everybody's favorite regional manager, Michael Scott. Alas, it wasn't to be, possibly because, as Wilson puts it, his audition amounted to a "terrible [Ricky] Gervais impersonation."

Considering how amazing Wilson is as Schrute, as well as Steve Carell's success as the equally clueless Michael Scott, it's probably for the best. It might be interesting to take a peek in the alternate reality where Wilson got cast as Michael Scott, but it's not interesting enough to stay there. Although, we'd definitely love to hear that Gervais impression.

Both Dwight Schrute and Rainn Wilson have the strength of a little baby

When Michael Scott calls his employees into the conference room for an impromptu group therapy session in season three's "Grief Counseling," Dwight Schrute tells one of the most insane stories to ever come out of his face. While most of the office is tight-lipped, Dwight volunteers a grotesque tale about his birth. He claims he shared his mother's uterus with a twin, but that he "resorbed" his counterpart, effectively killing it. Schrute says he doesn't regret the in utero murder because it gifted him with the superhuman "strength of a grown man and a little baby."

It doesn't seem coincidental then, that Rainn Wilson takes the first five paragraphs of his 2016 memoir The Bassoon King to describe the "doughy giganticness" of his head at birth. The first line of the book reads, "I had the biggest, fattest head of any baby that was ever born into the human species." He describes his infant dome as a "white, bloated, Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade head," says he looked like "Louie Anderson with the head of E.T.," and describes his younger self as a "Jabba the Hutt-like infant that sounds like a calf being strangled by an octopus." 

It doesn't seem like a huge leap to imagine Wilson has a few issues with his family's baby photos, and that those issues were possibly reflected in his character's story about "resorbing" his twin like a tiny cannibal.

Dwight Schrute almost took us to The Farm

In January 2012, Deadline reported NBC was considering an Office spin-off with Rainn Wilson starring as Dwight Schrute. The Farm would've been a family comedy in a setting Office fans had grown familiar with over the years: Schrute Farms. Among others, the series would have featured Matt Jones (a.k.a. Badger from Breaking Bad) as Dwight's cousin Zeke, veteran character actor Tom Bower as Dwight's Nazi Uncle Heinrich, Thomas Middleditch of Silicon Valley fame as Dwight's Bigfoot-hunting brother Jeb, and Venezuelan-born Majandra Delfino as Dwight's sister Fannie. Of course, Michael Schur would reprise his role as Dwight's creepy, neck-bearded cousin Mose.

For better or worse, The Farm wasn't meant to be. In October 2012, Wilson tweeted the news that NBC had passed on the series, although he'd "had a blast making the pilot." The pilot for The Farm was then recut as a single Office episode in the show's final season. But would that story have worked as a full-fledged series? It's hard to say, but Vulture writer Matt Schimkowitz notes that Dwight's popularity came mainly from him acting as an antagonist to Jim Halpert. Making him the lead in a comedy series about a disjointed family that he's expected to bring together changes Dwight's role dramatically to "the likable hero we've never seen." In other words, maybe it's best that we never visited The Farm.

Schrute Farms is real... sort of

When Dwight lures Ryan to his farm in season three's "The Initiation," it's little more than a beet farm where teens like to hook up. But by the time Jim and Pam visit in season four's "Money," Schrute Farms has been transformed into a bed and breakfast. In spite of a slight overabundance of manure-related activities, Pam and Jim leave a glowing review for Schrute Farms on TripAdvisor. We're led to believe this is mostly because the couple feels sorry for Dwight after being subjected to the loud, sorrowful moans he falls asleep making every night since his split with Angela

If you're an Office fan this is all old news to you. But what you may not know is that while The Office is over and The Farm never got to materialize, TripAdvisor has made Schrute Farms a reality. Sort of.

That's right. TripAdvisor maintains a page for Schrute Farms, listed as a bed and breakfast in Honesdale, PA. Apparently, you can actually book a stay there, though, we have no idea where you go if you bother doing that. The farm currently has over 1100 reviews giving it a rating of 4.0 or "very good." Some of the more recent reviews include "visitors" calling the farm's beets "Elvis in plant form," praising Dwight's power drink "made from beet runoff," and happily proclaiming, "I couldn't have been more satisfied (that's what she said) with my stay."

Schrute Space

From his obsession with having a second Second Life to his epic sales struggle with a (supposedly) self-aware A.I., Dwight is well-known for some of his online shenanigans. What you might not know is that Rainn Wilson used to maintain a blog in Dwight's voice. Unfortunately, it doesn't exist anymore, but NBC used to host Schrute Space, which let fans read Dwight's thoughts on different Scranton radio stations or his invaluable martial arts tips. While NBC eventually opened the blog up to the masses, it started as something that existed exclusively on the set of The Office

The computers on The Office's set were networked together, and Wilson would write the Dwight-voiced blog while scenes were being the filmed so the rest of the cast could enjoy it. Wilson told The Morning Call that during the filming of the pilot episode, "The producers saw [the blog] when they walked by and thought it was funny." A few emails later between NBC and Wilson, and Schrute Space was born. Now, if only NBC would bring it back, the world would be a better place.

Dwight Schrute was almost assistant to the president

Over a decade ago, Senator John McCain — then the Republican candidate for the United States presidency — appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. When asked if he'd picked a running mate, McCain apparently didn't remember the character's name, but the senator joked his vice presidential pick would be "that guy from The Office." Host Jon Stewart clarified for viewers, "You heard it here first, Dwight Schrute."

About a week later, Dwight Schrute responded. Appearing as a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Rainn Wilson read from a list addressed to McCain. Schrute agreed to be McCain's running mate, but only if his demands were met. The demands included a flamethrower, an Iron Man suit, government research into beets as an alternate fuel source, and the right to use Air Force One whenever he wanted (with the added note that, while he piloted Air Force One, he was only to be referred to as "Iceman"). 

Obviously, it was all just a joke, so we never got to see Dwight retool Mussolini speeches for press conferences at the White House Rose Garden. It's regretful not only because of the lost comedic potential, but considering who McCain ultimately chose as a genuine running mate, it isn't like Dwight could've done any worse. 

The Bassoon King

In 2016, Rainn Wilson's memoir The Bassoon King: Art, Idiocy, and Other Assorted Tales from the Band Room was released, and like many nonfiction books, a different author was invited to write the foreword. Namely, the foreword is credited to "Dwight Kurt Schrute," and it's written entirely in Dwight's disdainful voice

Schrute spends the first bit of the foreword discussing why he's agreed to write it, which he clearly doesn't want to do. He explains, "When someone asks me to do a task, the first thing I do is determine whether the request is some sort of trick." The job of writing the foreword survives his exacting vetting process only because Dwight can't "adequately determine if this request is a trick." He tells us he doesn't like The Bassoon King or any books that involve "'funny stories' regarding some stupid actor," but he then proceeds to list a long number of exceptions (books by Charles Bronson, any Game of Thrones cast member, Sam Neill, Dolph Lundgren, etc). Dwight calls Rainn Wilson a "laughable idiot," and eventually reveals he has only agreed to write the foreword for the money. 

Before turning things over to Wilson, Dwight gives us some other book ideas like Mennonite Ghost Stories, a "fun games for kids" book titled Hold This Book over a Candle, and the revealing Conspiracy Theories: Who's Really Behind Them? Seriously, we'll take a whole book written by Dwight, please.

Dwight Schrute and the next generation

Even though he's gone, he's not forgotten, and the legend of Dwight K. Schrute lives on. On Halloween 2016 — a little over three years after The Office's finale aired on NBC —  Jenna Fischer tweeted a photo sent to her by a fan of a pint-sized version of Dwight Schrute. 

With a disapproving scowl and Schrute's signature hairstyle, Toddler Dwight wears a yellow short-sleeved dress shirt, a sticker announcing "Hello, My Name Is Dwight Schrute," and holds what is presumably a carefully grown Schrute Farm beet. Behind him, a blackboard leans against the wall and spells out one of Dwight's early and memorable lines: "How would I describe myself? Three words: hard working, alpha male, jack hammer, merciless, insatiable." Of course, if the young Dwight happened to put the words up himself, then his age and comparative lack of schooling gives him more excuses than the original Dwight for not knowing the difference between three words and eight. 

Even though it's one of the most popular shows on Netflix's streaming service, The Office will sadly leave Netflix in 2021. Still, it seems inevitable that younger fans will come to know the joy that is The Office, including the nuggets of Dwight Schrute's invaluable wisdom like, "When someone smiles at me, all I see is a chimpanzee begging for its life." Expect more unsmiling alpha males to become fans of the beloved beet farmer for years to come.