The Unexpected Country Rainn Wilson Would Travel To Again In A Heartbeat - Exclusive Interview

Rain or shine, Rainn Wilson has always loved to make people laugh. Since wrapping up his successful nine-season run on "The Office," his portrayal of Dunder Mifflin's Dwight Schrute has continued to bring smiles to fans' faces. This month, the actor is adding a new adventure to his long list of interests in order to keep those smiles coming: beets, bears, "Battlestar Galactica" — and now bliss.

Wilson's new docuseries on Peacock, "Rainn Wilson and the Geography of Bliss," gives fans an inside look at what his life has looked like since we last saw him on screen. Now on the hunt for happiness, the actor traverses the globe — visiting some of the happiest and unhappiest countries — in hopes that his travels can completely transform his outlook on life.

In an exclusive interview with Explore, Wilson opened up about why he wanted to showcase such a personal journey on screen, shared his advice for anyone else who is out searching the world for happiness, and gave us the best travel tips he learned along the way.

Why being part of the unscripted series was important to him

Throughout your new show, "Rainn Wilson and the Geography of Bliss," you make a lot of references to your role on "The Office." What was it about now working on an unscripted series — especially one that showcases such a personal, emotional journey for you — that was appealing to you?

This is a topic that's very near and dear to me. It's important for me, personally, to be exploring happiness, bliss, and well-being. I was committed to trying to tell the best story possible around this. I also think that it's a topic that's super important for everyone, especially young people these days.

I love being an actor, and I love being paid to bring lines and characters to life. That's something I'll always do and always love to do, but what an incredible opportunity to not only travel the world but get to explore bliss and share those findings with the viewer.

Here's which country he would return to 'in a heartbeat'

What kind of research or preparation did you do before visiting each country?

I didn't do a whole lot of research on each country, but I have been doing a lot of research on happiness itself and looking through texts of positive psychologists and other writers about happiness, including the source material: This show is based on a book called "The Geography of Bliss," by Eric Weiner. It's a terrific book, and it makes a lot of wonderful discoveries. He was kind of the first person to dig into finding happiness by traveling the world and looking at other cultures.

Out of all the countries that you visited in the series — Iceland, Bulgaria, Ghana, and Thailand — is there one that you would love to travel to again one day?

I've been to Iceland five times now, and I would go back in a heartbeat. To me, Iceland has it all. It is an exceptional and exquisite country. It really is. So that was great, but I would go back to any of the countries that I visited.

I'm also really excited for a 2nd season to go to a whole slew of different countries, like Nepal, or Japan, South Korea. There's so many wonderful places I'd love to explore.

His firsthand advice for anybody searching for happiness

What kind of advice would you give someone who wants to travel the world on their own search for happiness?

Happiness is all about connection. It's all about community, so it's really important to not just travel and visit some tourist sites, take some photos, and have some delicious meals. It's important to meet the people where they are and try and get to know some folk. That may be easier said than done, but there's lots of different ways to do that. Try and meet the native language speakers and respectfully learn about their culture, and that will make your trip memorable for a lifetime.

In each hour-long episode, we only see a small amount of your trip to each country. Are there any memories that you have that weren't included in the series that will always be special to you?

I don't know how to answer that. They were all really special. We included most every adventure that I had in the show, and it was all beautiful.

The ultimate lesson he has learned about happiness

There are so many different lessons on happiness that you learn from each country that you go to. Is there any one lesson in particular that you feel has impacted your level of happiness the most, or one that you continue to think about each day since coming back home?

Like I said before, the most important lesson of the entire show itself is about connection and community. Coming back home to Los Angeles, [I'm] not taking my communities for granted. I have a faith community, my personal family and friends, the community of people I've gotten to know in the entertainment industry, and even my little local tennis club. [It's important] to relish and cherish those connections because that's where we humans thrive.

It's all about building community, and this is part of the problem with the mental health epidemic with young people. Young people have lost community and are trying to find it online, and it's just not the same. It doesn't matter how many Facebook friends you have, or TikTok followers you have, or how many Reddit groups you belong to; it's not the same as coming together with a shared sensibility and a transcendent purpose with a group of folks.

The last couple of years didn't help with the amount of isolation that all of us have experienced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as well.

Exactly. That's why "The Geography of Bliss" is the perfect post-COVID show. People are wanting to come out of their shell and their isolation, go see the world, and connect even more.

All five episodes of "Rainn Wilson and the Geography of Bliss" are available to stream as of today, May 18, exclusively on Peacock.

This interview has been edited for clarity.