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Johnnie Walker, The Man Who Walked Around The World

Robert Carlyle has starred in a commercial for Johnnie Walker whisky.
The commercial is essentially a short film - six and a half minutes long - and is a narrative (told by RC) on the life of Johnnie Walker.

The video is no longer available to view as BBH has claimed copyright infringement.
My apologies to BBH and to site visitors. It was not my intention to infringe on BBH's copyright.

HLA and BBH go Walking with Robert Carlyle

Director Jamie Rafn shoots a one-shot-wonder for Johnnie Walker

A piper wails in a misty glen, surrounded by craggy highland scenery - not the most surprising start to a Scotch whiskey ad perhaps. And the spot's star agrees. Into the screen marches Robert Carlyle, who tells the piper to 'shut it', before launching into his story.

The film, for Johnnie Walker, The Man Who Walked Around The World, sees Carlyle stride through a landscape dotted with doors and bars and portraits and TV stacks as he recounts the tale of how a humble Scottish farmer grew an international brand. The story itself is gripping enough, with compelling copy from BBH London's Juston Moore, but what makes it all the more mesmerising is the fact the whole spot was shot in one take, with Carlyle and the camera operator navigating the treacherous countryside.

Shots caught up with HLA director Jamie Rafn.

What were the key things you wanted to achieve from Robert Carlyle's performance? What was he like to work with?
The key thing I was concerned about when we started rehearsing was making sure that the audience remained engaged with the story Robert was going to tell. Six and a half minutes is a very long time to be walking and talking without any cutting. It is also a very long time to be essentially talking about whiskey.

The other thing I was concerned about, having never worked with Robert before, was how he was going to handle the shear technical feat that is shooting a six and a half minute single take. As soon as we started rehearsing however I quickly realized that Robert is an utter genius. Not only was he (as you'd expect) absolutely professional and determined to get it just right, but he also had this abundant natural charisma. He just filled the screen and possessed it. Robert is a natural story teller, and between takes had me utterly rapt with tales from his extraordinary career. I knew as soon as we started shooting, that we were in very safe hands., 06 August 2009

A stroll through history with Johnnie Walker

Best ad of the year so far? It just might be this brilliant five-minute-plus spot by BBH London, in which Robert Carlyle, in a single continuous take, narrates the progression of Johnnie Walker whiskey from the backroom experimentation of a humble shopkeeper to the multinational powerhouse it is today. The combination of bagpiper abuse, well-timed visual cues, pitch-perfect writing and music, and Carlyle's charisma keeps the mini-movie chugging right along. (When was the last time you sat through an ad this long, and one that really just puts in motion the boring brand-history page from the Web site?) It's also nice to see the renowned gloomy Scottish countryside put to good use., 07 August 2009

Behind Johnnie Walker's Walk

Director Jamie Rafn talks about his one-shot whisky history lesson.

What made you choose Carlyle in the first place and how did he meet/exceed your expectations?

I literally cannot overstate how brilliant I think Robert is. He was the natural choice for the role. In terms of expectations I think I only had the ones anyone would have had about Robert. He's our DeNiro. He's a legend and it did worry me slightly that he might not take the project seriously and might be difficult to direct. Nothing could have been further from the truth. He was incredibly easygoing, charming as hell and incredibly professional. It was really interesting actually. I often wondered what it is that made someone like him as successful as he is. There are of course all the things you'd expect - like the talent etc. But the thing that really struck me was just how hardworking he was. The pressure he put on himself to get it right was amazing. The take we ended up using was the last one of the last day -- take 40 at 8 p.m. By the time we finished that take there was this collective euphoria in video city. The light was gone, everyone was shattered and desperate to get to the pub. Robert sidles up to me and asks me if I wanted him to go again.

Jeff Beer,, 10 August 2009

Johnnie Walker stands tall

August is traditionally a quiet time in the ad business, but Bartle Bogle Hegarty in London shook things up in a big way this month by releasing perhaps the best ad of the year so far: a brilliant five-minute-plus spot, shot in a single take, in which actor Robert Carlyle roams the Scottish countryside, talking about the history of Johnnie Walker whiskey. The spot has it all: bagpiper abuse, well-timed visual cues, pitch-perfect writing and music, and Carlyle's tremendous talent and charisma. Director Jamie Rafn of HLA in London got what he wanted on the 40th and final take of an exhausting two-day production. It was worth it. This production may already be the odds-on favorite for the Film Grand Prix at Cannes next summer., 16 August 2009