By Andrea Barbuti
If you hear a distinctive voice in Central Park reciting, “Could switching to Geico really save you 15 percent or more on car insurance?” it’s probably the real thing. “The Geico guy,” as many people around the country know him, makes his home on the Upper West Side.
Besides appearing in 20 of those commercials, Michael McGlone has shared the screen with Jennifer Aniston in She’s the One, Denzel Washington in The Bone Collector and Keanu Reeves in Hardball. He also had a reoccurring character in the television show Person of Interest. Doggy Bags, his newest short film, premieres April 25 at the Tribeca Film Festival.
How did you become an actor?
When I was young, I always had a penchant for being the center of attention. As an adult, I realized that I wanted to pursue acting as a career, so I attended NYU Tisch School of the Arts. After one year, I was self-graduated, as I put it. I moved on to make my first film within the next year, The Brothers McMullen, which was taped here on the Upper West Side.
Did you choose to act because of your distinct voice?
It wasn’t a primary motivation, though it has helped me a great deal. I’ve made a living through my voice from the time I entered the entertainment industry, through voice overs, commercials and documentaries.
Where do you live on the Upper West Side?
I finally bought a home on 72nd Street, between Central Park West and Columbus. I love the Upper West Side. It’s my favorite neighborhood in New York. You get the flavor of the city with a residential feel.
You work in film, theater and commercials. You are also a novelist and a musician. Which medium are you happiest in?
I am equally happy in them all for different reasons. All of these ways of expressing myself provide me with unique rewards. I discovered an ability in all of them relatively early on and it gave me a release and a source of peace that I dearly needed.
How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it?
It’s acoustic-centric rock ‘n’ roll. I was given a guitar when I was young and taught myself how to play it. I started a recording career in 1997 and have been recording albums ever since.
Which musicians or actors inspire you?
Essentially everything that I ever found that was good—Elvis Presley was one of my first favorites; Dylan; Sinatra; Leonard Cohen.
Tell me about Person of Interest.
It stars James Caviezel and Michael Emerson from Lost and is executive produced by J.J. Abrams. I’ve recurred in the role of Detective Szymanski. They’ve had a wonderful first season. It looks very likely that they’ll make a second.
Do people stop you and ask to hear the commercial’s rhetorical question?
Sometimes they’ll have a request to hear the voice and I’ll deliver it at that moment. [He pauses.] Could switching to Geico really save you 15 percent or more on car insurance?
You credit Edward Burns as not only a colleague but a friend. How did you two meet?
I auditioned for him for The Brothers McMullen. By sheer chance, we sat next to each other on the subway the next day. He said, “Looks like we’re going to call you.” The film went on to win the Grand Jury prize at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival.
For more information on McGlone’s work, visit www.michaelmcglone.com.
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