Jonathan Goldsmith plays ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World’ in those ever present Dos Equis advertisements. The thing about it is, he’s actually a very interesting man. I never had a Dos Equis until this campaign grabbed my attention. After this interview I arranged for Jonathan and his lovely wife Barbara to have dinner at La Esquina. Last night while I was having dinner there, the staff was gushing and thanking me for sending him their way. It was a thrill. He has an old world charm and charisma. He lights up a room. Somewhere out there is a casting person who got it right. I arranged for them to visit Rose Bar and they called the next day to thank me. They are a gracious couple. We seem to have become good friends. Often idols and celebrities are not as interesting as they seem when you actually meet them and I was pleasantly surprised. Jonathan Goldsmith is well cast as ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World.’ Ben Barna and I spoke with Goldsmith about the life he leads, and whether or not he has a lifetime supply of beer.
So let’s get the names straight, okay? Jonathan Goldsmith: Jonathan Goldsmith. Barbara Goldsmith: Barbara Goldsmith.
So, right off the bat, you admit that you are not the most interesting man in the world? JG: Absolutely.
But you are at the same time. JG: That’s for other people to make that determination.
How do you live with this dichotomy? JG: Very simple—I’m an actor. I’ve been hired to play a character, and that character has been called “The Most Interesting Man in the World.”
And you’ve done an incredible job. The Dos Equis sales have gone through the roof since you’ve done this campaign. JG: Last year, according to Ad Age, it was up 17%, in a down year. This year, it went up an additional 18%. So, I’m very happy…
Has there been any interest from other parties, because of your portrayal of this character? JG: Absolutely. We have all kinds of doors that have never been opened to me. I’ve had a very successful career in television but never received the accolades, for this…This is really a brilliant campaign that they put on.
There is a sophistication to it, which I think your personality brings. And I think that’s very difficult. How’d you approach the character? And how much of it is you, and how much of it’s Dos Equis? JG: Well, a lot of it was me. I got a call one day from my manager and went to a cattle call. There were 400 people that looked like Juan Valdez sitting there. And I said, “Oh my God. Why are they sending me out for this?” And it was all improvisational, and you had to end up with “that’s how I arm wrestled Fidel Castro.” And a month passed. Totally forgotten about it. Then I got another call. I went in. And, the crowd was much less. They had searched Chicago, Dallas, all over. And now there were only 200 people. So, same thing, and I forgot about it again, and then finally, a month passed, and we heard they’re still casting; they haven’t found the guy. So, I said, “What harm…What have I got to lose?” I took a sock off my foot, and I’m sitting there with a bare foot, and they asked me why. I said, “Well, it’s an ice breaker. You asked me.” I thought that was right…And I just went on. Outlandish, you know, from Abercrombie & Fitch when I was a kid in the gun room…They wanted this guy to be all over the map, all over the world. And then I just started bullshitting. The best, my fantasy life, I lived in fantasy. I still do. Close your ears…And, I just let it go. I didn’t care, because I said, “At least, they’ll remember me.” And I committed to it fully. And a couple of days passed, I guess within a week.
You’re a scoundrel. You have a scoundrel edge to you. JG: Yeah, it’s true. I must tell you, I’ve had some wonderful exploits, with some marvelously successful and famous women. I’ve always enjoyed the company of women. I enjoy travel; I enjoy intrigue; I’ve saved two people’s lives. I’ve done a lot. I’ve had an interesting life.
You’re doing alright. Who, to you, is the most interesting man in the world? JG: One of them is Nelson Mandela for sure. I mean, he’s one of my heroes. Another one’s Obama.
And who’s the most interesting woman in the world? JG: Catherine Deneuve…and my wife.
For “The Most Interesting Man in the World,” how much of those little quotes do you have input in? JG: I’m not sure, because for a while, they would just leave the camera running, and we would do improvisations and then we did wild lines the first year for an hour.
What’s a wild line? JG: A wild line, is, like, What are your favorite flowers? Why do you like flowers? Why do you like tigers? What do you like in a woman? What would you say to a woman, if you impregnated her? What would you say, how would you break up with a woman? They fed me some stuff, and then I just, we just let it run. I just [snaps] again, stream of consciousness.
So if you’re good at improv how come they won’t let you speak on behalf of “The Most Interesting Man in the World?” JG: Well, I’ll tell you why. They’re trying to keep this character under control. At first it bothered me that they wouldn’t let me do any interviews. They wouldn’t let me out there. It was part of our contract, and then I realized that they did a very smart thing, just to keep him in the shadows. Yes, it is more interesting not to know and to surmise yourself, and to create yourself, what you would think, than to be shown it. That can be overdone, and so I think Dos Equis has been very smart.
How are you going to transition into new roles? What have you got coming up? Have you lined up anything else? JG: Well, I have a lot of things that are in the works.
You’re developing a show? JG: We’re developing shows of different natures, traveling all over the world, reality type shows. They’re talking about series. They’re talking about things, I can’t…You know, I’m not at liberty to say what they are.
Your dreams are coming true. JG: Absolutely.
Does “The Most Interesting Man in the World,” the man who plays “The Most Interesting Man in the World,” drink beer? JG: Yeah. Not always.
Do you have a lifetime supply to Dos Equis? JG: Well I’d like to. I’d like to hope so.
SL: Where do you live? JG: Well, we live on a sailboat.
Do you really? JG: Yeah, it’s the only way to live. I’ve done that on and off for years. After Barbara and I got married, I tried to talk her into it, but how do you take a Beverly Hills girl, with a closet this big, to a sailboat?