Celebrity Culture:

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

Color: CO3

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

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