The Dos Equis 'Most Interesting Man In The World' Speaks
By Brenna Ehrlich Posted Oct 28th 2009 05:02PM
There's something about the scope, range and ridiculousness of the Dos Equis 'Most Interesting Man in the World' commercials that's undeniably genius, leaving us feeling obligated to find out who the bearded sassy gentleman behind them is in real life. It turns out, the beer-shilling Hemingway-meets-Hefner patriot is actually actor Jonathan Goldsmith, previously of 'Dallas' and 'T.J. Hooker' fame. Until recently, Goldsmith and Dos Equis were holding back from the interview circuit, but the actor recently found the time to chat with PopEater about everything from love affairs to liquor. Gentlemen, steady yourselves, ladies, please refrain from fainting, it's my pleasure to introduce: The Most Interesting Man in the World.
In an era in which the Mystery Method-practicing denizens of the 'Tool Academy' and round-shouldered indie crooners reign supreme as the pinnacles of masculinity, a real man's man like Goldsmith's 'The Most Interesting Man in the World' is a welcome relief. The Dos Equis character burst on the scene in 2007, heralded in a series of 15- to 30-second spots as a man who "once had an awkward moment just to see how it feels," a man whose "organ donor card includes his beard." The well-haired wonder frequently doles out advice to viewers at home -- in between fighting off opponents with samurai swords and cavorting with beautiful ladies, Bond style -- pearls of wisdom such as, "If you can see the coins in a man's pocket, he'd better use them to call a tailor" (you hear that, round-shouldered indie crooners?). Then, as the action-packed half-minute draws to a satisfying denouement, the grandfatherly scoundrel instructs us, "Stay thirsty, my friends." And we do stay thirsty -- thirsty for more of his action-packed antics. Without further adieu, our chat with the as-awesome-as-his-character Mr. Goldsmith!
So how did you become involved in the ad campaign?
I got a call from my agent one day that they were putting out a casting call for a character, The Most Interesting Man in the World, and it was going to be kind of an improvisation where you had to end up on the line, 'And that's how I arm-wrestled Fidel Castro.' So I went to this cattle call and there were 400 fellows -- all of whom looked much more like Juan Valdez than I did. A month later, same thing happened, this time there were about 200 Juan Valdez lookalikes and myself. And same thing again. And a month later -- this is now three months -- they called once again. And this time there were only three of us: Two Juan Valdezes and me. And it was a full-out screen test with make-up and full wardrobe. And I was the lucky one. It was all improvisation, which I used to teach. I'm involved with a charity for abused children (Free Arts For Abused Children) and I've actually taught on and off in prisons for years and one of the things that I did a lot of was improvisation. And I just utilized that and just went on with a stream of fantasy, and one thing lead to another and I finally got to the punchline: 'And that's how I arm-wrestled Fidel Castro.' I based the character on a dear friend of mine who was a sailing buddy, and that was Fernando Lamas -- Lorenzo Lamas' father. He was a charming, sophisticated raconteur, and one of the funniest, best storytellers I've ever met.
You're a Meisner-trained actor, which means that you instill your characters with an inner monologue. Does The Most Interesting Man in the World have an inner monologue?
I do remember [using my training] in two of the spots. I wasn't terribly attracted to a girl, and so I recreated her in my mind as somebody that I was attracted to. I remembered the perfume that she wore and the wonderful swishing sound when she walked and her stockings rubbed together. Things like that. And with the boy, I used my own son and it was the one about: 'See those nuts? They are designed to make you thirsty.' I made believe I was talking to my own son and giving him advice that would change his life. As if it was the most important thing that I could possibly leave to my son. The legacy of the nuts.
So how did you get into TV and film in the first place?
You might be surprised to hear that it was on the recommendation of a psychiatrist. Well, I dropped out of school -- I was not much of a student -- and my father was concerned about me. And he took me to a psychiatrist. And I talked to the gentleman and he said, 'Next week I'm going to introduce you to somebody that's going to change your life.' I said, 'That's great.' I was looking forward to that. I thought it happened in the subway the day before--I had met a beautiful Puerto Rican girl, but she didn't change my life. Anyway, I came back the next week and there was this very eccentric director--stereotypical with the black beret and the long filter cigarette--and he talked to me for a little while. After he left, I went into the doctor's office and he said, 'I am going to see you for a few visits, but only if you sign up for a theater course.' And I said, 'What are you talking about? I don't want to be an actor.' And he said, 'No, no. I think it would be very good for you to study and to explore. If you don't do that, I'm not going to see you.'
And I went down to the Living Theatre (in New York) and started with an improvisation [in a class]. [After it was over], I looked around the room. I don't remember the outcome, except that I got applause, and I was not one for getting too much applause throughout my life.
How old were you when you dropped out of school?
Nineteen. My second year of NYU. I didn't exactly drop out. I was asked to kind of leave. Well, it had to do with one of my teachers who I was having a bit of a fling with.
What did she teach?
I won't tell you. She taught the good moves. Ha!
Well, it seems like you're not that different from your character. How does it feel to be so recognizable?
I feel wonderful about it, really. Because although I was a successful actor in many ways, I certainly did not achieve the notoriety that I enjoy now. This is such an iconic character that people of all ages are interested in it. I walk into stores and they say lines that I even forgot that I said. I was in my favorite little Mexican restaurant for breakfast the other day -- and this is the nicest compliment I think I've ever gotten as an actor -- this Latino gentleman came over and said, 'You're the guy.' I said, 'Yes, sir.' He said, 'You know, I was talking with my 7-year-old son yesterday and I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up and unhesitatingly he said, 'I wanna be the most interesting man in the world.'And then I got on a bus and an elderly gentleman came over to me -- and he was probably close to 80 -- he said, 'You know, if I had it to do all over again, I want to be just like you.'
It seems like it's bringing back a kind of old world kind of masculinity. Do you think that that's something that men need now?
I think that what we need in this cluttered society is civility. A little gentility, a little sophistication, a little more caring for one another. I think that this character slows down and savors the moment and the reality of the present.
What has been your most Most Interesting Man in The World Moment?
I live on a sailboat, and the other night, a fan had sent me a really fine box of cigars -- which was awfully nice -- very expensive, cigars that I would not have even considered buying a box of. And I sat out on the back of my sailboat and the fog was rolling in and I poured myself a glass of fine cognac and lit that cigar and thought about how lucky I was to enjoy the night air, the fog horn, the fog rolling in, my oil lamp lit. And it was a magnificent cigar. I felt very, very special. That was a moment indeed.
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