O. M. Dios Mio!!
That is exactly what I said when I found out I was going to Spain to shoot a commercial for Ultrabook by Intel! And then I farted. Just kidding about the fart part. I was too golly darned excited to fart!
I’ll be the first to admit, there’s a wealth of BS, close calls and deflating twists and downward spirals with being a comedian/actor. My friends in the industry and I could sit around and talk about this for way more than a minute, trust me. That being said, there’s unlimited upside and a wonderful lack of a glass ceiling. Thus, getting paid to travel to Spain for eight days to shoot a commercial and hang out had a somewhat remedying and soul rejuvenating effect on me. …So let me get this straight, you’re going to fly me to an amazing foreign country so I can work with an acclaimed director and talented cast, say funny/ridiculous stuff to a camera, meet cool people and find some time to do some international sightseeing/partying…okay, I guess! Here’s how it went…
Now as you all know, borders can’t contain me, which is why Madrid greeted me with such an agreeable recepción! You’re welcome right back. After we did a wardrobe fitting for the commercial in a studio in Madrid, we flew to Almeria, Spain which is on the Mediterranean Sea. And we had the next day off. I’ll leave that night to your imagination…ha. We started out with some sensational tapas (Spanish for appeteazers) at a local restaurante and went from there. One of my favorite conversations from that night…
Fellow American Actor: This per diem is just for this “diem,” right?”
Me: Who gives a shit, we’re in Spain!! Mucho shots for us and these chicas!
After getting acclimated to the Spanish culture, we started shooting the commercial at one of the coolest locations I’ve ever been to, Mini-Hollywood! It’s in the desert outside of Almeria and is where innumerable classic films have been shot including a bunch of Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns such as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and other cinematic marvels including Patton and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The olden timey buildings and the surrounding picturesque terrain was quite scenic and on multiple occasions I gasped for air because of its breathtaking nature! The commercial was directed by Daniel Kleinman, who is an award winning British director, well known for directing the title sequences of numerous James Bond films among his vast other work. He was very cool and laid back and fun to work with!
The first segment of the commercial was set in the old West and we were dressed appropriately, actually way more than appropriately. The costumes were legitimately amazing and that’s a testament to the wardrobe and makeup crew who did an outstanding job! Don’t believe me? Take a gander at the attached pictures and then go throw your doubts in the latrine, cowpoke. For my role as the “take no guff” barkeep, I decided to channel the baritone cowboyesque voice of one Sam Elliott and then proceeded to push it way past the point of necessary. I was just supposed to say “Jesse” at a particular point during the commercial for this segment. However, I took this to mean, “Say Jesse and then ad-lib/improv an additional line for each successive take.” This was probably my favorite part of the commercial for me as I proceeded to make each take more idiotic than the last one. A lot of them funny, a good amount nonsensical and all of them ridiculous. Had some great laughs with the cast and crew! The fact that a lot of the crew and extras didn’t exactly speak English as their first language provided a lot of “What the hell is he saying now?” quizzical looks, which busted me up. My favorite quote from this portion of the filming was provided by the 1st Assistant Director who told me…
Again Josh, your only line, excuse me, WORD, is “Jesse.” Also, it is only two syllables. Shorten it up. Just say “Jesse” for these next takes, please.
I’m still laughing about “Jessssssssseeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!” Of course, none of my ad-libs made it into the final cut of the commercial but at least it was entertaining to be spouting nonsense in the same location that Clint Eastwood made masterpieces…
In addition to my brusque cowboy accent I also got to sport a pretty badass mustache! Again, if you don’t believe me, feel free to view the pics I’ve attached and then look in the mirror and call yourself a “new believer” because you just got believability.
After we filmed the Western part of the commercial, we flipped the script…to the next page and shot the modern day coffee shop segment where I played a mustachioed barista. Really got to show my range as a mustache clad actor, with my dual roles! From there, we wrapped the commercial and said, “Why don’t we get an abundance of tapas and libations and celebrate our international trek and hopefully the advertising agency people will pay for this!” and you guessed it, that’s what we did and I’m glad we did because it was muy bueno, and yes, they paid for it…although we did offer to chip in…kinda…ha!
We were then supposed to fly back to NYC the next day but when we arrived back at our hotel that night, we were informed that they couldn’t get our flights scheduled in time so unfortunately we had to fly to Madrid the next day and spend the day and night there. The disappointment was veritably palpable when we confirmed this “unfortunate” snafu. Kidding!! We promptly decided to drain the mini bar and drown our “disappointment.”
So then, we arrive in Madrid and after a timely siesta (Spanish for cat nap), my fellow American actors and I decide to explore the city and have some more tapas and then a delectable meal at the world’s oldest restaurant. Look it up if you don’t believe me, it’s called Botin and it is duly certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, AND it serves savory Spanish fare! Why do you constantly not believe me??! Anyway, we then headed back to NYC the next day. I brought my suitcase and my backpack to Spain. I brought my suitcase, my backpack and my head and heart full of memories of good times back to NYC (I didn’t get charged for the additional baggage because I’m smooth like that).
This was undoubtedly one of the coolest experiences of my life. Not kidding in the least. Got to work on a very artistic and visually amazing commercial with an international cast and crew, made a bunch of new friends and showed off my Spanish language skills (not really – I said, “Hola” and “Si” a lot and “No favor” which basically makes no sense as it translates to “No please” I think). My language barrier notwithstanding, I had a blast! The commercial is currently airing in the U.S. and all over the world as they’re dubbing it into multiple languages for various countries. I also got word that they’re showing it before movies in theaters. Apparently, it’s Intel’s biggest ad campaign since 2003. Check out the Russian version below. Quite entertaining.
One final humorous note, as we were coming through customs at JFK airport, the customs agent asks me what I do for a living and I tell him I’m a comedian. He then says, “So are you bringing anything into the country other than drugs?” starts laughing and stamps my passport without opening my bag. I was half awake and just laughed at his comment and his procedure. He basically redefined “duty free.” I was actually glad he didn’t search my luggage because I had a souvenir ceramic Spanish bull full of sangria that I surely did not want confiscated. As a side note, the bull sangria was actually tasty!
Here’s the commercial:
Here’s the commercial in Russian:
Here’s the making of the commercial:
Check out these photos from the commercial shoot.