They say that even his enemies list him as an emergency contact. That his organ-donation card lists his beard. That he lives vicariously, through himself. Now, the Most Interesting Man in the World — you know, the husky, tuxedoed Don Juan from the Dos Equis commercials — is up to something new: sponsoring an online fundraiser for land-mine clearance. At least, the actor who plays him is.
The man behind Mr. Interesting is a Vermont resident named Jonathan Goldsmith. He is bearded in real life, but he is also introspective, married, and soft-spoken, and he loves charity work. His current fundraiser for Mines Advisory Group (MAG) closes on Wednesday, Oct. 8; for a donation of $5 or more, contestants enter to win a day with Goldsmith in Vermont. There, in a nod to his on-screen macho man, the actor and the prizewinner will take a falconry lesson and go off-roading. Those activities suit Mr. Interesting, but Goldsmith, the real-life, soft-spoken actor, is eager to relate. "Though I’ve never been involved specifically with falconry," he told Foreign Policy, "I knew a fellow that used to pick up these little baby falcons and train them. He was one of the more interesting fellows I ever met."
Falconry and off-roading: Sure, the Most Interesting Man would probably like these things, but so does Goldsmith in real life — at least a little. To excite possible supporters, Goldsmith has to play up to expectations for his character. But to maintain decorum for a serious cause, he can’t get too close to fiction. "This has nothing to do with the Most Interesting Man in the World," Goldsmith assured me, of the raffle and the prize. "It has only to do with me." That doesn’t rule out tips of the hat: In his fundraising video, Goldsmith is smoking a cigar at what he describes as a military camp. "I’m gonna blow some stuff up," he says. The fundraiser has so far made around $18,000.
Any tough-guy actor raising money for bomb disposal would probably pivot between machismo and sensitivity. Goldsmith pulls off the maneuver because he seems so sincere. He talks about introducing Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) at a MAG fundraiser at the Senate rotunda as a "highlight of [his] life." He describes land-mine victims he met during a MAG trip to Vietnam as "vulnerable." He goes for the statistics. "I believe that the figure is, if I’m right, that approximately 10 people a day worldwide are killed" — he pauses — "or, certainly, wounded, by land mines." He’s right.
"If it takes a prize, if you will, spending a day with me — if that’s what’s important to people," Goldsmith said, "I want to use it as a vehicle." Also, he owns a jeep, so off-roading with the prizewinner is no big deal. "One uses what exists," he said.