The 55-year-old actor, best known as Dwight Schrute on NBC’s long-running favorite, plays a security guard who becomes trapped after falling into a well while chasing a pair of thieving brothers (Jack Dylan Grazer and Fionn Whitehead) in the tense and twisty new thriller from writer-director Alex McAulay.
“When they sent me the script, they were like, ‘You’re gonna spend the entirety of the shoot at the bottom of a hole, how does that sound?’ I was like, ‘Sign me up,’” Wilson tells us (watch above).
Wilson jokes, but the actor says he did have to overcome claustrophobia to capture “10 or 12 days” worth of subterranean-style filming as his character Hamby begs the dueling brothers for mercy.
“It was a lot,” he says. “It was real dirt, and it was real wet. It was tough. It was some hard physical work. It was not a cushy job, like sitting at a desk in The Office. And I’m pretty claustrophobic.”
The filmmakers did make things easier on Wilson by constructing a massive “above ground” well in which they would film the performer from about 40 feet above, on top of wooden scaffolding.
“The camera crew could be on the platform shooting down. And I went into a little hatch, and I crawled in this little hatch, and they’d close the hatch. And then I would get some mud and pack it so you didn’t see the door frame,” Wilson explains.
It was a triumph of low-budget movie magic, and also kept their star out of the Panic Zone.
“You know how it is when you have those kind of fears,” Wilson says. “Like you look around and you’re really truly at the bottom of a 40-foot hole and you’re, like, ‘I’m in a hole. I’m in a hole. I’m in a ho— Oh, there’s a hatch. Right, I’m fine, whew.’ So I kind of hit that freak-out threshold and then I would be reminded of my real physical circumstances.”