Amazing what one really cool commercial can do for one’s career. Welcome to the world of Isaiah Mustafa. You may not know his name (yet) but you may recognize him as that Old Spice guy, the smug shirtless dude with the hot bod who keeps telling you to look “back at me!”
The visually enticing and wittily written 30-second ad, which ends with the funny non sequitur “I’m on a horse!” propelled him into pop culture sainthood. (You know, just like that actress who yelped “Where’s the Beef?”)
“It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve gotten a lot of work from it,” said Mustafa earlier this week. He is hosting Thursday night’s annual “Funniest Commercials of the Year” on TBS, which has been hosted by Kevin Nealon in recent years. But you can’t blame TBS for latching on to this rising star. Plus, his ad could very well win as funniest ad of the year.
“I’ve seen the show every year,” said Mustafa. “I love Kevin Nealon, been watching him since ‘SNL.’ To do something he’s done is pretty honorable. I thought, ‘Why not?’ ” He taped it on Venice Beach and Universal CityWalk. David Hasselhoff, whose A&E reality show “The Hasselhoffs” was recently canceled after just two episodes, shows up. Also watch for Jonathan Goldsmith, Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World.”
Since the commercial broke it big, Mustafa nabbed a guest role on NBC’s “Chuck” and a meaty part as married man Calvin in Tyler Perry’s upcoming film “Madea’s Big Happy Family.” He just shot a part for the next season of TV Land’s sitcom “Hot in Cleveland” where he’s a love interest for Valerie Bertinelli’s character. (That’s Betty White’s sitcom, too, and she is in the top 10 with her Snickers ad.) He also has a role in NBC’s mid-season anthology show “Love Bites.”
And how does he keep such a fine body? (See the ad below if you haven’t seen it already 1,000 times.) He works out twice a week and eats vegan. He avoids junk food. His worst culinary vice? Almonds.
Will he be back for Old Spice? “Just wait and see,” he teased.
While in Atlanta over the summer, he enjoyed R. Thomas Deluxe Grill’s vegan options. “It’s open 24 hours. I’ve never seen a vegan health food restaurant open 24 hours!” he said. (It specializes in both vegan and vegetarian options.) He also had time to check out a Braves/ Dodgers game at Turner Field and the Dali exhibit at the High Museum.
Here’s the already classic breakthrough Old Spice commercial starring Mustafa that debuted in February of this year:
“Funniest Commercials of the Year 2010,” TBS, 10 p.m. Thursday