King in the Bud Light ads is a South Meck grad

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - News - BY THÉODEN JANES [email protected]­lot­teob­ re­ally any­thing ever about past so ev­ery­thing Théoden Janes: 704-358-5897, @theo­den­janes never

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.

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