Actor Rainn Wilson has landed a big role on a prospective CBS series that could transform him from a mere “Office” worker into one of prime-time’s biggest stars.
Of course, the proposed show — titled “Backstrom,” about a Swedish police detective with various character flaws — has to become a hit first. But scoring the lead role in this show is nevertheless a big deal for the quirky 47-year-old actor who is best known for off-beat comedy as beady-eyed Dwight Schrute in “The Office.”
On that NBC comedy, which is coming to an end in a few weeks, Wilson is part of a large ensemble.
On “Backstrom,” he’ll play the lead character — described in various stories over the weekend as “overweight,” “offensive” and “irascible,” a man who smokes, eats junk food and tries but “fails to change his self-destructive behavior.” That’s the description from this story on the Hollywood Reporter Web site.
The show is being developed by show-runner Hart Hanson of “Bones.” “Backstrom” is based on a series of detective novels featuring the character by Swedish author Leif G.W. Persson. Instead of Sweden, the setting in the show will be the Portland, Ore., Police Department, according to the stories. Dennis Haysbert has also been cast in one of the supporting detective roles on “Backstrom.”
Our take: This is a great career move for Wilson — akin to winning the lottery, as a matter of fact. We have a feeling “Backstrom” has the legs to make it onto CBS’s prime-time schedule. And if it does, it stands a very strong chance of becoming a hit. Thus, Wilson could find himself going from a well-liked but low-rated comedy on NBC, a network struggling in the ratings, to CBS, the top network for hour-long police dramas just like the one Wilson will star in. Sounds like a great deal to us.
And to think: Wilson almost became the star of a post-”Office” spinoff called “The Farm” about the Schrute family — a scenario that was introduced in last week’s episode of “The Office.” But NBC turned thumbs down on “The Farm,” which left Wilson with an option with even greater potential for him.