The Man Behind 'The Most Interesting Man' Is Interesting, Too He drove a garbage truck in LA and fibbed his way into Hollywood westerns. But Jonathan Goldsmith's big break was getting cast in Dos Equis beer commercials as "The Most Interesting Man in the World."
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The Man Behind 'The Most Interesting Man' Is Interesting, Too

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The Man Behind 'The Most Interesting Man' Is Interesting, Too

ARUN RATH, HOST:

When he first moved to Los Angeles, he worked as a garbage truck driver. He's been in films alongside John Wayne and his big break - these Dos Equis beer commercials.

(SOUNDBITE OF AD)

WILL LYMAN: He is The Most Interesting Man in the World.

RATH: Turns out Jonathan Goldsmith, the man behind The Most Interesting Man, is pretty interesting himself. The garbage truck driver-turned actor got his start in Westerns.

JONATHAN GOLDSMITH: And it wasn't easy. Jewish boys that grew up in New York are not that adept at riding horses.

RATH: His philosophy - fake it 'til you make it - like the time director Marc Daniels offered him a role on the TV show "Gunsmoke."

GOLDSMITH: He said the role's yours, son. Are you at liberty? And I thought of course I was at liberty. I had been driving a garbage truck for six months. I said yes, sir, I am. And I start heading to the door and he says by the way, son, do you ride? I says like the wind, sir, without breaking stride. Well, I had never been on a horse in my life.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GUNSMOKE")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: "Gunsmoke," starring...

GOLDSMITH: Looking at the script, it says Kyle vaults on the horse and gallops into the night. So not only could I not ride, I certainly couldn't vault. And as soon as they - I got on - the horses know - off he went. Everyone's screaming at me - turn him, turn him around. Well, I think I'm breaking the poor horse's neck. And I'm holding him - every time we went round and round, this wonderful old director Marc Daniels - he looked at me - he followed me - he says like the wind, huh? (Laughter) So...

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GOLDSMITH: ...The Westerns didn't last that much longer on television. And then I went on to play a heavy after heavy after heavy - played nothing but bad guys. All I ever wanted to do was comedy, but that was not available to me until the Dos Equis commercials. I got a call from my then-agent and my now wife, and she said they're looking for an actor. They don't know exactly what they're looking for, but it's kind of an interesting Hemingway-ish character. And you have to do an improvisation, and you have to end up with the sentence and that's how I arm-wrestled with Fidel Castro - no problem.

So I go down to 200 South La Brea and there are literally hundreds of people. The line is out into the street. I said oh boy. And I look around and I see all of these fellows. I think every one of them was Latino. If they're looking at these Latino guys, I better put on an accent. And I had become dear friends - in fact, I buried Fernando - Fernando Lamas - when he passed away off my boat.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE GIRL WHO HAD EVERYTHING")

FERNANDO LAMAS: (As Victor Y. Raimondi) How many men have told you that you're the most beautiful girl they have ever seen?

GOLDSMITH: That was my man. He was so much fun. Oh my God, what stories.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE GIRL WHO HAD EVERYTHING")

LAMAS: (As Victor Y. Raimondi) Because every time you look up, I'll be there.

GOLDSMITH: So I thought about him and how funny he was and how charming and a great raconteur. So I put on my best Fernando imitation and they started laughing. And just a tingling of hope - but I knew better. These things were almost, if and maybes, but yes, we love him, but, but, but. We get a call in a day or so from this great casting director, Joe Blake, who I will forever be indebted to, and he says Barbara, they love him. But, you know, they feel that they really have to go younger. And in her infinite wisdom, she took a long pause and she said Joe, how can the most interesting man in the world be young? He said I'll get back to you - got back and said you got it, so certainly that was my big break.

(SOUNDBITE OF AD)

LYMAN: His fortune cookies simply read congratulations.

GOLDSMITH: Yeah, wow, at a time where many of my friends who had far more credits than I have were in the twilight of their career, it just started for me. It only took 50 years.

(SOUNDBITE OF AD)

GOLDSMITH: (As The Most Interesting Man in the World) Stay thirsty, my friends.

An overnight success.

(SOUNDBITE OF AD)

RATH: Jonathan Goldsmith. You don't have to be the most interesting man in the world to have a big break. Send us your story - mybigbreak@npr.org.

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