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The Office's Rainn Wilson talks adobe, oppression and Oprah
Appropriately, it was a cat-and-doggish evening last Saturday, when actor Rainn Wilson graced SFUAD’s Forum to introduce a special presentation of Education Under Fire, a documentary that explores the educational plight of Iran’s Bahá’í population. The largest religious minority there, members of what Wilson refers to as “the faith with the weird name” have not been allowed to attend university since the Islamic Revolution—and so, in 1987, the Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education, which the doc revolves around, was born.
Before the presentation, SFR chatted it up with the devout Bahá’í actor, and from the soon-to-be-Schrute-tastic spinoff The Farm to pee parties, no topic was off limits.
SFR: What’s the importance of this documentary? RW: Wow, hard-hitting questions right off the bat. This is a human rights issue that not many people know about. I had never really thought about preventing education as [violating] a fundamental human right, but it is in the United Nations charter. It’s a very insidious way to hold people down—to deny them the basic right of getting an education—and this specific kind of persecution in Iran towards the Bahá’í has been going on for 25 years.
It’s important that we get the word out, and this film helps do that. The importance of why the film and not just a website or a lecture, or something like that, is because the arts can move people’s hearts. And it resonates in a much deeper level, and it was a very exquisitely made, very beautiful film. Are people surprised to see this deeper side of you? They are, a little bit. They’re like, ‘What’s the weirdo from that TV show doing with human rights causes, or writing and talking about spirituality?’ But I have to be me, and that’s part of who I am. I like to think about deep things, and I have soulpancake, a website about thinking about deep things. I have causes that I believe in and that I’m passionate about, and that’s just a part of who I am and doesn’t preclude me from playing dorky weirdos on TV shows.