The Allstate Guy

Monday, October 12th, 2009 by Rachel

allstate guyYou know who I’m talking about. He’s tall, handsome. He sort of reminds you of Denzel Washington. Then he speaks. “That’s Allstate’s stand. Are you in good hands?” The rhyme is almost a little bit too much for how deep his voice is. That second “and” echoes. It’s weird.


But that’s the Allstate Guy. I never felt bad about calling him that, though I definitely feel bad about calling Jamie Lee Curtis the Activia Lady. I mean really…Halloween, True Lies, and My Girl aren’t memorable anymore? Now she has to be known as the woman who endorses the yogurt that regulates your digestive system? Ridiculous and sort of gross.


The Allstate Guy never really had any depth to me the way Jamie Lee Curtis or even Sally Field, wanting women to have strong healthy “bow-nes,” did. I heard he was on 24, and I assumed that he got the presidential job simply because he was/is…the Allstate Guy.


Three movies have changed my mind. First was Far from Heaven. It was March of 2008 and Derrick went to visit his parents. I couldn’t sleep well without him, so I stayed up late every night he was gone watching movies I’d never seen. The first night I watched The Thing. A bit too scary to be watching by myself at midnight, so the second night I watched Far from Heaven. The summary said something about a melodrama with Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid, and I thought that sounded great. But what really sucked me into this movie was in fact the Allstate Guy: Dennis Haysbert (yes! the Allstate Guy has a real name!) is sympathetic and believable as a gardener who begins to form a friendship with someone he should probably ignore.


I saw the second movie, Major League, for the first time EVER this summer. Now, this is probably hard to believe. I knew about Charlie Sheen wearing the skully sunglasses out on the field while “Wild Thing” played, but I never truly watched the movie from beginning to end. Haysbert plays Pedro Cerrano—quite possibly the creepiest character on this team of misfits. He smokes, has a voodoo shrine in his locker, and plays in the outfield. Love it!


Love Field, the third, caught my eye this week as Michelle Pfieffer was nominated for an Oscar in this movie about a woman’s reaction/life in relation to the JFK assassination. Love Field (and Haysbert’s performance) GREATLY influenced his later casting in Far from Heaven. In both movies, he’s playing a black man who gets a little too close to a white woman/housewife in a time when these kinds of friendships were discouraged. Regardless of the similarity, these are two completely different films in terms of context, mood, and genre. Haysbert is a little rough around the edges in this one.


I’ve decided that Haysbert is so much more than just the Allstate Guy. Those commercials still sort of weird me out though. How can someone so talented get stuck doing those for years of his life? I don’t care if the steady paycheck attracted him to the job in the first place. I care about the fact that people watching TV can’t even recognize talented actors anymore for who they really are—talented actors. It’s a tragedy, really.