Click play and pay attention to the guy who thinks nothing in life could be better than downing a cold brew with his buds after a hard day’s crabbin’.
If you were at Auburn in the early 70s, you knew him as Mike Wilson, 1973-74 SGA Vice President, a Spade, Most Outstanding Lambda Chi Alpha undergraduate in the nation in 1973-74, the works. (And he happened to be in Dr. Philpott’s office when the streaking started, which we’ll get around to when that book is finally written, promise.)
Then he changed his name and became an actor: Michael O’Neill. He’s been in things. You’ve seen him. Traffic, Seabiscuit, Tranformers. In Dallas Buyers Club, he played FDA agent—he’s good at playing agents—Richard Barkley, the heavy with a heart, who, sure, wants Matthew McConaughey’s character to get the drugs he needs, so long as he’s not breaking the law.
And he’s been in TV shows galore, more than 100 episodes worth over the past 25 years: Grey’s Anatomy, The West Wing, NCIS, often as a recurring character.
But it all started in 1982 with Old Milwaukee. Oh, there may have been a gig or two before that. But this is the one you tell people about, or at least that you tell Auburn writers about…
“I was living in New York, and I think it was the first commercial I ever shot. It was for Old Milwaukee beer. I played a commercial fisherman down off the keys, a snow crab fisherman. They needed a guy that looked like he knew what he was doing, and fortunately for them, I knew how to handle a boat. Because when they hired me they didn’t know that. And it got pretty crazy out in the open water, you know…
But the tag line on it, was my voice over that said “it doesn’t get any better than this.” And of course it was talking about sitting around with old friends and drinking a beer. Yeah, that slogan stayed around forever.
And so when Bo went over the top (in the 1982 Iron Bowl, duh), they cut to commercial after that, before the ensuing kickoff. It was the Old Milwaukee spot, and sure enough, it was my voice going, “it doesn’t get any better than this.” And David Housel called me. I didn’t even know David knew how to reach me. And he called me and said ‘you put a cherry on the cake for Auburn, man. It doesn’t get any better than this.’ He did something in one of his columns about an Auburn man on national TV, something to that effect. If it wasn’t his column, it was his radio show. He was kind enough to reach out to me afterward. You know, cause I watched the game. I didn’t own a television set, but I watched the game, but the commercial came on and it was my spot and I was like, ‘oh my gosh, man.’ Fate lined up.”