David Hoffman shares his well-known performing function with an unpredictable emu — who’s extra recognizable than his human accomplice with the mustache and sun shades.
Hoffman performs Doug, the ’70s-era throwback within the common, ubiquitous “Limu Emu & Doug” commercials for Liberty Mutual Insurance coverage.
The advert marketing campaign launched in March 2019 and has reworked the veteran actor right into a rock star within the promoting world alongside the likes of “Can You Hear Me Now?” man (Paul Marcarelli) or Flo (Stephanie Courtney), who promotes Progressive Insurance coverage.
“By no means as soon as have I been acknowledged out on the road as Doug,” stated Hoffman, who’s in his early 40s. “He seems to be like a personality I’ve by no means performed earlier than.”
That was a deliberate alternative on Hoffman’s half. The classically educated actor is an improv/sketch-comedy veteran (The Groundlings Primary Firm in LA) who performed ex-jock author Jim on Hulu’s “There’s… Johnny!” (2017).
He was coming off a two-season run on the UK sitcom “I Reside With Fashions” when, simply after Thanksgiving in 2018, his business agent known as. “He stated, ‘Would you ever do [an ad] marketing campaign?’ and I stated, ‘I don’t know. You may get pigeonholed and it could actually get corny,’” Hoffman stated. “I stated, ‘Listed below are my parameters: it will likely be with a director I respect, one thing that I discover humorous and I don’t need to appear to be myself.’ He handed me his telephone and stated, ‘That is the final day they’re seeing folks.’”
“They” turned out to be Liberty Mutual, who gave a short description of Doug, however little else: “He’s companions with an emu and genuinely and earnestly desires to assist folks customise their automotive insurance coverage with the assistance of this chicken.”
“I disappeared and got here again and had the lifelike mustache and a Members Solely jacket and stated, ‘That is the man,’” Hoffman stated. “There was no bodily description of [Doug]. The function didn’t name for a mustache; I simply determined he ought to have a mustache.
“What hooked me was that he was earnest and reliable. I’ve a model of comedy I like — I name it ‘Absurd Realism’ — and I feel it’s simply the funniest stuff there may be. It performs as so grounded and actual however its premise is absurd. No one [in the ads] is performing like there’s something uncommon about this man using in a automotive with an emu.”
And, in case you’re questioning, Hoffman does little or no in-person performing with Limu the emu. “There are three emus at every shoot and we all the time use the identical three,” he stated. “One who focuses on standing nonetheless, one who runs .. .we type of change them out. We used them extra on the very first shoot, however 90 % of the time I’m on my own a bit of tape [subbing for Limu]. They bring about the emus out afterward and do an incredible job in post-production with CGI.
“They’re giant and after they stick their necks up all the way in which they’re taller than me — like a dinosaur with talons,” he stated. “They’re type of intimidating, however not less than, with me, they’re fairly light. On the first shoot considered one of them jumped up on a desk in a standing leap and obtained in my face, however I’ve no points with wild animals.
“I’ve labored with kids who’re harder.”
Now that Hoffman has starred within the advert marketing campaign for two-and-a-half years, he stated he does have some enter into his on-screen alter-ego.
“I take into account [the ads] to be a miniature sequence the place it’s rising, and similar to with something the writers and actors get to know one another bette,” he stated. “With the bumper and the Liberty [jingle] we’re all the way down to 22 seconds for an advert, and with the ‘You solely pay what you want’ tagline, now we’ve obtained 15 seconds to play with. Earlier than the shoot we get collectively and search for enjoyable stuff to do. They offer me the liberty to improvise, however there’s not plenty of time. I simply love the moments of silence, like on the barbecue [Doug to Limu: “Hot dog or chicken?…hot dog.”]
“We’re squeezing them in once we can.”