Let’s say you’re the star and the face of one of the most universally-praised online video campaigns in all of history. And suppose that, after that kind of success, you’re interested in turning your new found fame into a more sustainable acting career… maybe you even want to make the jump to feature films. You might even have a specific role in mind. If all that were the case, you might just put your knowledge of online video to work for you and create a fake movie trailer on spec, starring you as the character you’re dying to play in a major motion picture.
And that’s exactly what’s happened. Isaiah Mustafa, known worldwide as Old Spice Man, has a hankering for a Hollywood career. You can’t blame him, really, particularly when you remember that he’s an actor first. It’s not like the Old Spice Man commercials were the first acting job he’d ever had… the man’s been acting for a while. He just never found mainstream success or celebrity until that campaign came along.
He’s been shooting for an acting career for a while. And now that he’s garnered enough attention to do it, he’s going after a very specific role: comic book hero, Luke Cage. The Marvel character has a near-impervious skin and superhuman strength.
Now, Mustafa’s too Internet savvy, particularly with online video, to go about getting this role the old-fashioned way. Instead, he’s taken a cue from the makers of the recent web series, Mortal Kombat: Legacy, and created a trailer on spec.
Last year, he went on G4TV and said this:
“I will say this…please, get this thing going. I want to be Luke Cage, OK! I want to be Luke Cage! You have no idea, I mean really, yes. I made a dream board of it and put my face on the comic. I said I want to be Luke Cage one day.”
Next, he set up a Facebook petition for fans to sign to help spread the word about his mission. And now, he’s created an actual trailer–and one that doesn’t look half bad at all. I wonder if he used his own money, or if he financed it through Hollywood players that see potential. I guess we may never know.
But this much is clear: Mustafa is banking on the viral power of social video to land him this gig. If enough people watch the clip (it’s over 100,000 after just a handful of days), and enough people share the clip, he just might get Marvel Studios’ attention. It’s possible it could all fizzle as well, and they either never make a Luke Cage movie or the role goes to someone else.
Either way, you have to admire the guts it takes to choose this strategy. Online video has tremendous power, even if we haven’t yet figured out how to master it completely. But this kind of thing has worked before, landing a directing gig for an amateur filmmaker after his own spec trailer, and, of course, with the Mortal Kombat web series. Artists from the world of online video are landing record contract and reality television deals all the time. There’s no reason to think it can’t also land a comic book role for the Old Spice Man.