King in the Bud Light ads is a South Meck grad
To get an idea of exactly how famous John Hoogenakker has become for his role as the supercilious, easily irritable king in Bud Light’s medievalthemed ads, consider this:
A few months ago, the 41-year-old actor — who grew up in Charlotte and graduated from South Meck High — says he was walking down State Street in his adopted hometown of Chicago when he noticed a man coming towards him, wearing a T-shirt with the ad campaign’s iconic catchphrase, “Dilly Dilly.”
“I thought, ‘You know what? I’m gonna make this guy’s day.’ I never do this. I never do this,” Hoogenakker says. “So I lean over as he’s walking past me, and I go, ‘Hey man, like that shirt!’ You know, making sure he can see my face and everything. And he just looks back at me. He’s like, ‘Thanks, dude!’ Keeps walking.”
Maybe — just maybe — it’ll click for that random stranger if he sees Hoogenakker’s face in yet another Bud Light commercial Sunday night during CBS’ telecast of Super Bowl LIII. That’s when AnheuserBusch Inbev is expected to air at least one new ad featuring the king … although we honestly have no idea what to expect, since Hoogenakker is sworn to secrecy regarding
related to Bud Light’s Super Bowl plans.
(There’s so much hype around these commercials, in fact, that bookmakers in Vegas are taking prop bets on whether the phrase “dilly dilly” will be uttered during one of them Sunday night.)
Still, Hoogenakker — who also has won a regular role in the forthcoming second season of Amazon’s “Jack Ryan” spy series — gave us a peek behind the scenes of Bud Light ads, including that time his horse tried to throw his highness in New Zealand. And he answered our burning question: Does he enjoy drinking Bud Light as much as the king does?
If you can’t quite place the king’s accent, that’s because … “We had to dial it in a good amount at the beginning. We had to ‘find’ it. He (director Jim Jenkins) didn’t want anything overtly British. He wanted something just vaguely royal, and vaguely pompous. And he wanted the king to be the smartest and the dumbest guy in the room.”
He actually had kind of a close call in New Zealand: “They always put me on a white horse. And I don’t know what it is, but these horses are skittish. They always say that horses are thinking three things: Something just happened, something’s happening, or something’s to happen. On the first take, I was giving a battle speech to the townsfolk, and we were gonna go to battle against this really wellarmed army that had all this Bud Light that we were gonna try and get from them. I was delivering this battle speech with kind of a crescendo to it, and I get to the end and I shout, “So, Dilly Dilly!” All of these townspeople start shaking brooms and pitchforks and all this nonsense, and they shook it like right in the horse’s face, and the horse reared back on its hind legs and tried to throw me. That sort of established the mood for the day. The horse like memorized the speech in that one take. So every time we did it, it started to freak out as we got to the end.”
Does he enjoy drinking Bud Light as much as the king does? “I have en- joyed Bud Light for years. I enjoy a straightforward American pilsner. I love pilsners, and pilsner is the style of lager that Bud Light is. In general, that would definitely be my go-to beer style. But I enjoy all different kinds of beer. I actually was a brewer for awhile — a home brewer — and did all sorts of other styles of beer. And lagers are tougher to brew. It’s a bottom-fermenting yeast. The ales, the yeast ferments on the top. Without going too deep into what may not be very interesting to you.” (He laughs.) (But I stopped because) I’ve got two kids and it feels a little indulgent to be spending time bottling.”
Last year’s ads weren’t his first jobs working in Super Bowl commercials. “A few years ago, I did an Avocados From Mexico spot that ran during the Super Bowl. And just this morning, my wife made a reference to the spot — we eat a lot of avocados in our household — and then our (6-year-old) daughter was like, ‘Wait, I don’t remember that.’ So we pulled it up and showed it to her. I was a tour guide in outer space, leading different aliens through an exhibit about earth, and talking about all these random little things. At one point, we walked by Scott Baio, who was in a glass case. ...”
Though he doesn’t get recognized in street clothes — he has been known to cause a stir when he puts on the king’s costume: “(The Bud Light team sent us) to a Loyola Ramblers event last year, when they made it to the Sweet 16, at a bar here in Chicago on the north side. And I’ve experienced anything like that, the way people responded to that role. We came in with trumpeters and rose-petal people — it was utterly absurd. Just the silliest thing in the world. ... In a time when
is so serious, to have something that’s just silly for silly’s sake I think is, maybe, refreshing. I’m really grateful to be a part of it.”
John Hoogenakker, left, and John Krasinski are in Amazon’s “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” which was recently renewed for a second season.