It’s difficult to get a man of action to sit down and talk about himself. He’d just rather be doing other things. So, relying on best-guesses from his publicist, I had to chase after Jonathan Goldsmith (The Most Interesting Man in the World) to get even this short interview. Lucky for you, he’s in-store 6/23, this Friday, to talk about his brand new book Stay Interesting – so you won’t have to work as hard as I did to meet the man himself. Here’s our short intro I nearly died to get for YOU, and yes – it feels like an accomplishment. You’re welcome [collapses]
I find myself with a parachute at the open doorway of a DC-29 at 12,000 feet. My bowels have given me an ultimatum (“Sit down or we let go”), but I have no choice. Goldsmith lit his cigar and jumped about 10 seconds ago, and if I want to talk to him, I have to follow. Now.
I catch up to him with a laser-like freefall (mostly because I couldn’t find my parachute pull cord, mostly because my eyes were closed, with tears), and shout my questions into his ear.
Eric Larkin – I watched a short interview you did with Salon, and when asked what advice you have for young people, the first thing you said was “Read books” (followed by go out and see the world, challenge yourself, etc.). What books inspired and challenged you growing up, and what are you reading these days?
Jonathan Goldsmith (The Most Interesting Man in the World) – I thoroughly enjoyed books about nature and adventure growing up. Particularly Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson), Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift), and Stuart Little (E. B. White). Nowadays, I am reading books like Guantanamo Diary (Mohamedou Ould Slahi), Man’s Unconquerable Mind (Gilbert Highet), and The Stranger (Albert Camus).
Somehow, Goldsmith lands in the back of a moving Humvee, driven by Michelle Yeoh. He’s gone before I can untangle my quivering, wet legs from my parachute.
Told he’s 50 meters down, exploring a wrecked submarine, I hastily don some gear and scuba down after him. Next thing I know, I’m surrounded by Great Whites, and I think “Who’s going to maintain the blog when I’m dead?” Suddenly, Goldsmith pops out of a jagged hole in the side of the sub. The sharks swim up to him for a belly-rub, then take off. He laughs at me, shows me how to use the talky-thing on my mask, and tells me to go ahead with the interview.
EL – I grew up watching TV during the time you were working a lot, but not yet famous, way before Dos Equis. It’s crazy to think I must have seen you a million times: Magnum, A-Team, Knight Rider, Adam-12 and so on. But even with all that work, there is no stability in a Hollywood career. It takes a special kind of strength to persist with such uncertainty, doesn’t it? How did you keep going?
JG (TMIMITW) – I knew what I wanted and just stayed the course. My father taught me to never give up on what I want. An active life is filled with a lot of “ifs,” “almosts,” and rejection. You need to have an inner strength and confidence, and I believe that comes from knowing what you want and constantly telling yourself that you will not let other people tell you what your worth is.
Suddenly, he takes off his diving gear and free-dives straight down. I hyperventilate just watching him, and so must surface. I wait for two hours. Finally the dive boat skipper informs me that Goldsmith is going to spend the night down there, in a top secret ocean floor casino run by a very non-public branch of The Adventurers’ Club.
Completely lost in an area of the favela I was warned not to enter – but where Goldsmith was last seen – I find myself surrounded by what appear to be capoeira toughs, are they interested in my Chromebook? or my green eyeballs, which I’ve heard fetch a price? Goldsmith emerges from an alleyway, shirtless with an obviously ice cold Dos Equis, says a few casual words in Portuguese – and the boys quickly produce a table with sandwiches and a few bottles of the local wine. We all sit down for the best lunch I’ve ever had, and he indicates I may continue.
EL – Of course, the Most Interesting Man character is a bit of a Walter Mitty fantasy – a mixture of Indiana Jones, Ernest Hemingway and James Bond – but you made him seem real. What did you draw on to flesh out this character?
JG – I think we are all the sum total of our experiences, and I’ve had a lot to draw from. I’ve done a lot of interesting things and have had a lot of great, fun, memorable experiences.
EL – In Stay Interesting you cover the real-life adventures of your own life. Suffice to say, you’ve been around the block a few times. What do you say to the young person who is full of imagination and a lust for life but doesn’t know where to start, who suffers from “paralysis by analysis”? In other words, how do you connect vision and action?
JG – If you can, surround yourself with an A-Team of mentors and supporting people, and remind yourself to inspire and always be inspired. Reach out for those people who think outside of the box, for those who are brave, forward-thinking and fill your life with positive vibes.
I wake up in an igloo, with a crippling hangover. I crawl out of the ice house to discover Goldsmith and an Eskimo (Inuit?) architect putting the finishing touches on an ice bridge spanning a deep crevasse. He waves me over.
EL – Last we saw The Most Interesting Man in the World, he was piloting a rocket towards Mars. How do you think he’s doing up there?
JG – Well I’m back. They sent me to mars, and I found a great secret in the stars…Astral Tequila…
He pours me a tequila so incredible, I’m suddenly able to speak Spanish. Where does he find this stuff?!
EL – What’s up next for you?
JG – Astral Tequila! We plan on taking Astral throughout the universe.
EL – Sign me up!
He laughs and whistles- a hot air balloon emerges from the crevasse. It’s for me.
As I rise into the air – grateful that he’s pushed me so far past my limits – I look down on Goldsmith standing on that bridge, he leans over and whispers something into the architect’s ear. She laughs. She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen; they seem… close.
Be here Friday night when Jonathan Goldsmith slows down just long enough to talk about Stay Interesting. Dress for adventure… just in case.