A Hard Rainn's Gonna Rock

While not serving as assistant to the regional manager, Rainn Wilson has finally found some free time to rock out, with or without clothing.

Taking a break from his whirlwind schedule, Wilson took some time to discuss his new film, "The Rocker," the new season of "The Office" and what makes comedy comedy on "Popcorn With Peter Travers" on ABC News Now.

In "The Rocker," Wilson plays Robert "Fish" Fishman, a failed drummer who was kicked out of his hair-metal band in the mid-'80s -- just before the band hit the big time. Fish's dead-end musical career is resurrected in the present day with a group of teenagers through a revealing YouTube video.

"I drum naked and the video of us rehearsing, with me as the naked drummer, sweeps the nation and becomes the biggest thing on YouTube since the 'Chocolate Rain' song," Wilson said.

In preparation for the role, Wilson was required to meet with a drum coach for three weeks to practice what he called "hard-core drum lessons."

"He had to actually work with me on head banging," Wilson said. "I would stop and he was like, 'No! Keep your head banging on every beat! The whole point of head banging is banging on, you worthless worm!'"

Wilson honed his musical chops back in high school, when he played several instruments in the marching band.

"I have played every geeky instrument known to man, starting with the recorder to the clarinet, I even played the xylophone," he said. "Our high school marching band was named the Highlanders, so I wore a kilt. So there was this kid named Rainn with a xylophone in a kilt, and that was as about as pathetic as it gets."

Fish is a step away from beet-farming sycophant Dwight Schrute on "The Office" -- and Wilson's best-known character -- and he said he couldn't be happier about it.

"That's one thing about doing Fish in the film, how different he was from Dwight," Wilson said. "He just let it all loose, let it all hang out and literally let his hair down, so that was a lot of fun."

Developing the character for "The Office," Wilson worked closely with writer and executive producer Greg Daniels to evolve the intense persona of Dwight. Daniels even went so far as to physically outline the character for Wilson.

"Dwight is very clannish and has an adolescent love of hierarchies," Wilson said. "As soon as Greg said that, everything just made sense -- like a rigorous 16-year-old who's just got everything in a box and is always looking in a Machiavellian way at how the flow chart is going."

"We're going to do 28 episodes next season. We're are going to work our tails off, and I have no idea what's going to happen," Wilson said. Season 5 of the popular series premieres Sept. 25.

But Wilson is ready for a change.

"I think that characters I love to play are kind of weirdos and outsiders," he said. "I just have an affinity for those types of characters and slip into them pretty easily. ... But I think that I'm done with the creepy people."

Even with the inherent wackiness of his characters in film and television, Wilson is a firm believer in balancing humor with a sense of reality.

"I think that the more real a comedy is, the funnier it is," he said. "A lot of comedies are based on sketch-comedy ideas and it's a pretty broad concept we're playing with here. There can be an absurdity, but there has to be a grounded reality to accommodate, to make it really work and affect people."

Riding his recent wave of success, Wilson will be appearing in the highly anticipated "Transformers" sequel.

"I play a college professor, it's a small part," he said. "It's fun to work with Michael Bay, and I know people that have been wanting a Rainn Wilson and Michael Bay collaboration."

Despite all his success, Wilson said he would still like to remain grounded.

"I just wanted to make a living as an actor. I was in New York for 10 years struggling with theater acting and I just wanted to pay the bill and not have to wait tables or drive my moving van," he said.

What's your favorite rock movie? "This Is Spinal Tap"? "Almost Famous"? "Wayne's World"? Sound off in the comments below!