Jonathan Goldsmith is used to people staring at him.
“The first thing is there’s recognition,” said the 72-year-old who cuts a dashing figure with his salt ‘n’ pepper hair and bronzed skin, a look that has been described, in various combinations, as part Hemingway, part Hefner, part hero.
Next comes the moment of acknowledgment – “and a big smile” – when onlookers peg Goldsmith as the actor who stars as “The Most Interesting Man in the World” from the incredibly successful Dos Equis advertising campaign.
Then come the one-liners heralding the virtues (and virility) of Goldsmith as Mr. Most Interesting made up by the creative team behind the campaign. “My favorite line? He once warned a psychic.”
The witty, humorous, sometimes bawdy lines are reminiscent of the Chuck Norris Facts, an Internet phenomenon that pokes much fun at Norris’ once tough guy image – except Goldsmith as the Dos Equis character isn’t a joke. “People really enjoy the campaign,” he said. The avid outdoorsman digs it too.
“I used to have to do every piece of junk that came along,” said Goldsmith, who moved to Los Angeles when he was in his 20s and has guest starred on more than 350 TV shows, including “Charlie’s Angels,” “Knight Rider” and “MacGyver.”
In 2006, Goldsmith landed the role as “The Most Interesting Man in the World,” an international Dos Equis campaign that appears on television commercials, billboards and print ads.
“I think Barbara (his wife) would prefer me to do other things to tell you the truth,” Goldsmith chuckled. “(‘The Most Interesting Man’ character) is very popular.”
Gone are the years of Goldsmith bouncing from small role to small role. Nowadays, he’s likely to be found on the Vermont farm he owns with his wife or aboard the 50-foot sailboat he docks in Marina Del Rey, Calif. He chooses his acting and business ventures as he sees fit. He regularly enjoys an icy martini (straight up, no vermouth, olives and onions on the side) and, like the role he plays, Goldsmith enjoys a good cigar.
A lover of all animals, including horses, the native New Yorker is looking forward to attending Kentucky Derby 137 as the guest of Jonathan and Tracy Blue, who own The Voice-Tribune.
Before he jet-set into Louisville, Goldsmith was kind enough to answer a handful of questions, including why he’s putting money on Stay Thirsty in the Run for the Roses, how he paid for fibbing about being able to ride a horse, and what it was like to get shot in the head – multiple times – by John Wayne.
How are you similar to the character you play?
We both like the ladies. We both enjoy a good story, a good anecdote. I think we’re both cultured and interested in things, many things.
How do you differ from the you that you play on TV?
I prefer the silence of the country to the noise of a bar. It’s exquisite.
Have you ever been to the Kentucky Derby?
I never have.
What about Louisville?
I have been. I think it’s a beautiful town. Yes, gorgeous.
Your tagline as “The Most Interesting Man” is “Stay Thirsty,” which just happens to be the name of one of the Derby contenders.
Oh my god. How can I not lay down a nice wager on that, huh? … That’s wonderful.
I’m told that you once faked your way into a role by pretending you could ride a horse.
Oh geez! (Laughs). I have fallen off more horses doing Westerns than anybody. I got called to go to “Gunsmoke.” … I went in and was told the role was mine. … (The director) asked, “By the way, son, do you ride?” and without breaking stride I said, “Like the wind.” I’d never been on a horse in my life. A pony in Central Park with my grandmother walking around. That was about it. I promptly got up on the wrong side of the horse. … In the script it said “Kyle valuts on the horse and gallops away.” I couldn’t gallop. … Each time I passed (the director) – I couldn’t handle that horse – he’d say to me, “Like the wind.” (Laughs.) I did the rest of my close-ups on a ladder. … I went on to do Clint Eastwood’s picture “Hang ‘Em High.” I went on to do 16 “Gunsmokes” in spite of that beginning and fell off many times.
Did you continue riding?
Are you kidding? (Laughs.) No! … I’m thrilled to be watching not riding. You bet. … Horse racing I’ve always loved.
You were shot by the late actor John Wayne – what? – seven times?
Seven times in “The Shootist.” … As we lay on the floor, (Wayne) would finish the job with a blood capsule … and hit me in the forhead and every time it did it would burst and also leave a big welt. I was starting to get a real headache. They did seven takes. … I think it was $700 for the day and the next day, they doubled my check, and I came to work with seven lumps. The director said, “Look on the bright side. Anyone who was shot by John Wayne went on to be a star.” I had to wait a long time for that to happen.
If you weren’t doing what you do, what profession would you choose?
I would have much rather been a writer. Nobody can stop you from writing. You want to write, you sit down and write.
What’s the most interesting thing people erroneously think about you?
That I relish being the belle of the ball, so to speak, but I don’t or enjoy a busy party. I’m not comfortable in loud, kind of crude, rude groups.
What type of cologne does the man who plays “The Most Interesting Man In The World” wear?
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
In real life, I go around barefoot. I love it. And being outdoors. And raising vegetables and flowers.
What type of music do you prefer?
Classical, I prefer and after that I like jazz. And then I like blues after that.
How does “The Most Interesting Man” prefer his steak?
Rare. Charred rare.
What are you wearing to Derby?
I have no idea. I have to bring a tux, right?
The Most Interesting Man-Isms
He once brought a knife to a gunfight, just to even the odds.
A cobra once bit his leg. After five days of excruciating pain, the cobra finally died.
He has won the Lifetime Achievement award … twice.
He frequently calls 911 just to see if he can help out.
He’s never misspelled a word. If he were to, it would become the accepted spelling.
He flew his first paper airplane when he was in kindergarten. It landed yesterday.
He was once pulled over for speeding, but he let the officer go with just a warning.
He has never had to go to the doctor for a second opinion. They simply accept his first.
When he’s on a computer, he doesn’t scroll with a mouse. He uses a lion.
He grew a beard at the age of 18. Seconds.
He couldn’t act in “Titanic” because he would have saved everyone.
He once bowled a 300. Without a ball. He wasn’t even in a bowling alley.
If he ever visited the Jersey Shore, for the first and only time they would have a legitimate “situation.”
He once ran for presidency and won, but backed out because his dinner was ready.
When he disagrees with you, it is because you are wrong.
He once received an employee of the month award for a company he did not even work for.
Follow The Most Interesting Man on Twitter @TheeDosEquisMan.
Category: The Profile
About the Author (Author Profile)
Angie Fenton is Managing Editor of The Voice-Tribune, a Blue Equity company. She is also an entertainment correspondent for WHAS11′s new morning show, “Great Day Live!”, which debuted August 22 on Louisville’s ABC affiliate. Additionally, Angie is an entertainment correspondent for the Saturday Morning Show with Ron ‘n’ Mel Fisher on 84WHAS (840 AM) and has served in the same capacity for Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks; Breeders’ Cup; and Circuit of the Americas during the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix in November 2012. Angie also serves as an emcee, host, voiceover professional and on-camera commercial talent.
Angie has a bachelor’s and master’s in English from Central Michigan University and began her career as an adjunct professor at her alma mater. She is the youngest of five — four of whom were adopted, including Angie, and none of whom are biologically related. She is also a Michigan native who moved to Kentucky in June 2002. Angie is owned by two dogs — Herbie and Yoda — and feels lucky to have loved and been loved by many more, including Pooch, Jessie, Onyx, Jack and Big Bud, who took his last breath on Christmas Day 2012.