The real-life Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC, may have died more than 40 years ago, but did you know one of his current incarnations lives in Sudbury?
KFC Canada commercials starring Rob Wills as Colonel Sanders launched on television and social media in early April.
In the commercials, the Colonel seems annoyed about the KFC Twosdays promotion, which offers two pieces of original dark meat chicken or two tenders for $2.99.
“My thought process was the Colonel as a grumpy, pouty grandpa,” said Wills. “Because in his mind, they’re just giving it away. And the other thing is, he says, ‘Hey, I didn't approve this. What is going on here?’”
You can watch one of the short ads below:
The 62-year-old Wills, who, besides Sudbury, has lived in North Bay and Timmins, said he’s worked as an actor on and off his whole life, but this is probably the most recognizable part he’s ever gotten.
He said he’s registered with an agent, and KFC’s casting agency gathered headshots for possible Colonel Sanders actors from agents across North America.
Wills was then invited to submit a video audition, which was followed by a Zoom interview with the casting agency.
“At that point, they've pretty much narrowed it down to who's going to be able to take the direction, and also has the look, right?” Wills said.
“I lucked out. I mean, you know, you have to work hard. But it just so happened that they all sort of agreed, yeah, this is our guy. And then off we went and made the commercial, and it was a lot of fun.”
He said the commercial spots were filmed around a month ago in various locations in the Greater Toronto Area.
They’re now “all over” television, including running during Blue Jays games, Wills said.
It’s “great fun” to have been chosen as the new Colonel Sanders, and Wills is hoping KFC Canada will tap him to do future commercial work.
He’s even getting recognized locally from the commercials, including a couple of neighbours in his apartment building who realized it was him, and even random strangers.
“I was telling my wife that the other day I was at the grocery store, and as I was putting the groceries into the backseat of the car, a truck slowed down, the window rolled down, and I just looked and he said, ‘Are you in a commercial?’” he said.
“I just smiled and said ‘I am.’ He said “KFC?” and I said “Yeah, that one.’ And he said, “‘I told ya’ to his wife, and off they drove.”
Heidi Ulrichsen is Sudbury.com’s associate content editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.