Joe Mckinney: Actor, Aka The Guinness Ad Guy

 

THE NEWS MAKERS: WHERE ARE THEY NOW:APPEARING IN one of Guinness’s most popular advertisements was both a blessing and a curse for actor Joe McKinney, but he stresses the blessing and takes all the blame for the curse.

In 1994, the loose-limbed Dubliner starred in the Anticipationadvertisement, in which he danced around a pint while waiting for it to settle. The soundtrack, Guaglioneperformed by Perez Prado, shot up the Irish and British music charts as a result.

Before that ad, McKinney had worked in fringe theatre. He featured in a few commercials but once Anticipationaired, he found he was in big demand across Europe. He spent two years making personal appearances to promote the product.

It was a heady time for then 27-year-old actor and he says he embraced the rock-’n’-roll lifestyle along the way.

“Eventually I had to get out. It was too much. All the drinking,” he recalls, “and I didn’t want to be that guy who was known for having a one-hit wonder. I knew there was a bit more to me. I had to stop and regroup.”

McKinney called time on his Guinness work and decided to go the US. He also gave up drinking. “I didn’t want to be another drunken Irish Paddy just off the boat.” Thirteen years later, he is still a non-drinker.

After a stint in New York, he returned home and appeared in a number of short films in the late 1990s and 2000s. He played property developer Dan Reilly in Glenroefrom 1998 to 2001, which gave him some security.

In 2008, he took part in the RTÉ 2 documentary series Hollywood Trialsand he has had small parts in several movies, including King Arthurin 2004, Antonin 2008 and Portrait of a Zombie, which is in post-production.

Last year he starred in Good Arrows,directed by Irvine Welsh of Trainspottingfame. One of his most recent jobs was in a feature film adaptation of A Christmas Carol.

“I’m ticking over,” he says. “I’m still auditioning but I’m being seen as an actor now, as opposed to that famous git from the ad 16 years ago.”

And with Camelotand Game of Thronesnow being filmed in Wicklow and Belfast respectively, he is hopeful that the work will increase in the coming months. “Ninety something per cent of actors are out of work so it’s part and parcel of the game,” he says.

The success of that Guinness advertisement is still being referenced on in the internet, a decade and a half later. One video of the advertisement has been viewed on YouTube more than 176,000 times.

Asked if he now sees the Guinness role as a blessing or a curse, McKinney says: “It was definitely a blessing. The curse was the way I dealt with it. It put me on the map but I didn’t know how to deal with it. You know what they say; youth is wasted on the young.”