There is a small fraternity of entertainers who can claim the honor of portraying the Keeper of the Original Recipe.
Though their celebrity-fueled campaign began only in 2015, KFC and agency Wieden + Kennedy Portland have managed to enlist a number of major names to don the snowy mustache-and-goatee look and telltale gold-rimmed spectacles, including Jason Alexander, George Hamilton and even—bless everything—Reba McEntire.
With the role constantly shifting, the fried chicken tentpole has maintained an unexpected air of public curiosity around just who would get to call themselves the next Colonel. Well now we know the newest incarnation, and he’s definitely an MVP of KFC: Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger. Or, rather, Sean Astin as Ruettiger.
Reprising his role from the 1993 biographical film Rudy, Astin is making another play as the football hopeful with big dreams, only this time his eyes are less focused on the end zone and more on a white suit and a bucket of extra crispy. For the minute-long short film “Rudy II,” Astin gets to recreate some of the moments from his famed leading role just in time for football season. And if you look closely, you’ll even spot a cameo from the real Rudy Ruettiger.
“When KFC approached me to reprise the role of Rudy, but play him as Colonel Sanders, I knew this was something I couldn’t pass up,” Astin said in a statement. “Getting to recreate some of the film’s iconic scenes with a KFC spin was such a fun experience.”
The campaign also includes a 15-second spot centered on one couch’s rugged determination to…pay for free cake.
While Astin might be best known for early starring roles in Rudy and 1985’s The Goonies, his career and pop culture relevance have remained impressively consistent. In the early 2000s, he played loyal Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and more recently he’s played central roles in the Netflix series Stranger Things and No Good Nick.
This isn’t Astin’s first—or even second—revival of this particular role for an ad. In 2014, he actually dusted off the letterman jacket twice: once for the a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment in the CarMax Super Bowl commercial “Slow Clap,” and again for an ESPN college playoff explainer. Talk about taking a character into overtime.
Four ads are scheduled to run in the “Rudy II” campaign from September until November.
Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, Portland
Executive Creative Directors: Jason Bagley, Eric Baldwin
Creative Directors: Jarrod Higgins, Lawrence Melilli
Art Director: Katie Willis
Copywriter: Ryan Snyder
Executive Producer: Heather Smith Harvey
Senior Producer: Jennifer Fiske
Brand Management: Jesse Johnson, Kimmy Cunningham, Aparna Battoo, Spencer Crain
Strategy: Britton Taylor, Matt Hisamotto, Andrew Clayton, Becca RamosBusiness Affairs Managers: Amber Lavender, Nestor Gandia
Creative Manager: Jane Monghan, Lauren Walker
Studio Design: Amy Streger, Victoria Tengblad-Kreft, Patrick Nistler, Dave Hagen, Chris Streger
Print Producer: Denise Hanggi
Production Company: Arts & Sciences
Director: Mike Warzin
Executive Producer: Mal Ward
Line Producer: Kristin Porter
Director of Photography: Alex Disenhof
Editorial Company: Joint
Editor: Tommy Harden (Rudy II: He’s Colonel Sanders Now); Dylan Sylwester (Free Cake- Argument)
Postproducer: Chris Girard
Executive Producer: Lesley Carthy
VFX Company: JammVFX
Supervisor / Lead CG: Andy Boyd
VFX Supervisor / Lead Flame Artist: Jake Montgomery
Lead Flame Artist: Brian Hajek
Flame Artist : Graziella Gandolfi
Flame Artist : Patrick Munoz
Flame Artist: Michael Do
Flame Artist: Michael Vaglienty
CG Artist : Ben Martin
Producer: Ashley Greyson
Production Coordinator : Anna Dood
Executive Producer : Asher Edwards
Colorist: Tom Poole
Color Producer: Alexandra Lubrano
Music: “The Final Game” from Rudy (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Sound Design and Mix: Joint
Sound Designer and Audio Mixer: Noah Woodburn