Jonathan Goldsmith, the original Most Interesting Man, is no longer doing the beer ads that made him famous. But that doesn't mean he's gone quietly into the night. The former journeyman actor, who appeared in his final Dos Equis ad last year at the age of 77, seems to be everywhere these days. He's got a new memoir out that has generated headlines for its recounting of his friendship with Barack Obama and his steamy affairs, including with celebrities such as Tina Louise, who played Ginger on "Gilligan's Island." In new ads released this week he endorses Astral tequila and Luma, a Wi-Fi network brand that he first partnered with last year. (See one of the new digital ads above.)
Ad Age caught up with him by phone on Wednesday as he shuttled between media appearances to tout his new book, called "Stay Interesting: I Don't Always Tell Stories About My Life, But When I Do, They're True and Amazing."
What was your reaction when Dos Equis decided to replace you?
I could understand them wanting to make a change, it just seemed rather strange to do it at that particular time. But so you know that's a decision they had to make. They had a deal for college football and they felt they needed somebody younger, so fine.
What is your opinion on the new Most Interesting Man?
He's fine. I wish him good luck.
Any opinion on the new ads?
Not really. It's got a different feel to it than what I enjoyed but it is what it is. It's fine.
Dos Equis just dumped Havas, the agency that created the campaign. Any reaction?
They were terrific. I thought they were wonderful. Really good. Very creative.
Were you surprised Dos Equis switched agencies (to Droga5)?
What has it been like since you stopped doing the ads. Did other brands reach out to you?
Absolutely. One door closed and 24 opened up. The campaign did wonderful things for me. I'll forever be grateful for it … I wish for everyone in their lives that they could pick and choose. We have gotten involved with a couple wonderful companies.
What kinds of brands approached you?
It wouldn't be fair to them for me to say it. We just wanted something that was special. I was so fortunate to have such a successful campaign. I wanted to make sure that whatever it was that I was going to get involved with was as good as it gets. And that's why I got involved with Luma. It's an incredible company, really.
You told Ad Age in 2012 that when you weren't drinking beer you prefer a martini or scotch. But in your new Astral tequila ad, you say you prefer tequila. Did you change your mind?
I haven't changed my mind. I have eclectic tastes. Sometimes a season will determine what I'm drinking. I like spirits. I'm not locked into anything except I've developed a great taste for tequila.
The tequila ad borrowed a lot creatively from your old character. Any concerns Dos Equis owner Heineken USA might come after you for this?
No, I don't think so. Astral has obliged everybody with the legal trademark requirements. One's life and their past persona and their success stays with you, so people will always identify. And let's face it, the campaign that I did I was fortunate enough to develop something, and it's something people liked. So we move on from there with something else people will like.
How often do people approach you on the street and ask you to get into your old character?
About 20 times a day, including five minutes ago when we got out of the limo. I'm glad I live in the country, trust me.
Does that get annoying?
No. Sometimes it gets a little tiring when you have a real rough day and you are running between appointments. I try very much to be appreciative because I am about the attention that I've gotten, but sometimes you just can't. That's why I had to leave California. I've just lost so much privacy. Believe me, I'm grateful for it. It's been wonderful. It's opened doors for me. I can do so much more for charity and I'm very involved in that. I became recently the chairperson in Vermont for Make-A-Wish.
Are you still living in Vermont with your wife, Barbara Buky? (She has also represented him as a manager and agent)
What was her reaction to parts of your memoir when recount your many romantic hook-ups?
Ohhh, long time ago, memories, having nothing to do with Barbara. She's cool about it.
But you apparently answered the question, Ginger or Mary Ann?
Well let's just say those were great memories from over 40 years ago.
Do you still talk to Barack Obama?
I haven't in a while. I'd like that very much. I'd like to tell him, come back, come back!
What is your take on Trump?
I'd rather not get into that.
I'm not going to do that. It's not fair to the companies I'm involved with.
What's been the reaction to book?
The book came out yesterday and the presales are going through the roof. It's my first book.
Back when you showed up for that cattle call for the Dos Equis role, did you ever think you'd be writing a memoir?
Oh my goodness no. I had no idea what to expect. I didn't think I had a chance in hell of ever getting that role. They were looking at younger guys and Latino-looking fellas.
What was your favorite Most Interesting Man line?
He once fooled a psychic.