Debate Star Ken Bone Talks Outlandish Offers, Getting Threats After Instant Celebrity (Q&A)
"I want everyone to vote their heart and their conscience, which is what I am going to do," he tells THR.
In the past 48 hours, Ken Bone has gone from a married father of a preteen son, working in a Shiloh, Ill., power plant to a pop culture phenomenon.
His mustached face has been all over the internet and social media ever since he was called upon during the second presidential debate Sunday night to ask Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump a question about the country's energy needs.
The 34-year-old Bone now has more interview requests than he can count and has been a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. But through it all, he has stayed grounded. Although he is enjoying the ride — which includes a Twitter account that jumped from 7 followers to more than 100,000 — Bone said the upcoming election should be the primary focus.
In a Tuesday interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Bone discussed his top moments from the past two days, including offers coming his way, whether he would campaign for a candidate once he has made up his mind, and threats he received that required police involvement.
What has been the craziest part of the past 48 hours for you?
I think the most fun thing I have done was Jimmy Kimmel, but also last night Chris Hardwick with @midnight dedicated a huge portion of his show to me. And my wife and I are huge fans, and we thought that was just wild. That was a surreal experience, watching Brian Posehn make jokes about me on one of our favorite shows.
Who have you been most starstruck by thus far?
Anderson Cooper is probably the favorite person I have talked to so far. He really deserves his reputation as the nicest guy in national media.
What is the most outlandish offer you have received to this point?
There hasn't been anything too crazy. It's all been phone interviews and media appearances. There are a couple of things people are asking me to do that I can't really tell you about yet because it is not set in stone. But, it's not like I making money off of this. So far, it's just been a fun time of participating.
Have you been approached for representation from Hollywood?
No, but I have been approached by a couple of local agents, and I kind of blew it off. I didn't think I would really need to be represented, but maybe I am starting to change my mind because it is hard to keep up with all this with just me and my notebook. But I really don't think it's a long-term thing. When the media stops calling me in a few days, it's over. And when it's over, it's over. I am not going to try and book myself back on stuff.
Have you given any thought to what you want to do when the election is over?
Media is really fun. I have been having a great time, but I don't know that I have the chops to make a career of it. Broadcast is a very difficult industry and that would be a big risk for my family. So, I am just going to stay the course. I am going back to work at my power plant tomorrow evening. I was supposed return tonight, but I called in sick because of the obligations I have been making all day. If anything great presented itself, I would love to be a part of it, but I have a great career that I am very proud of.
What do you think of those who will undoubtedly fill in your name when they vote?
That kind of love and support is touching to me, but there are actual candidates, even if it's a third party candidate. I am not old enough to be president, and I am not registered to run, so please don't do that. Vote for who can be president. Do make your voice heard.
What does your family think of this whirlwind in which you've been caught?
I think my son was having a really great time for about the first half-hour. He is 12 years old and having a dad on the internet was probably super cool, but the cool is starting to wear off. He had to go back to school today after a holiday yesterday, so I think he is pretty much ready for it to be over. I hope he hasn't gotten too hard of a time from his friends today. And my wife has put as much work into this as I have, but she doesn't get to do any of the fun stuff. She's also probably ready to be done.
Given any thought to campaigning for a candidate once you have made up your mind?
I have not been approached by either campaign as far as I know. I do have a lot of messages I need to get back to. But even after I make my decision, I will not be doing any official media for either campaign. I will not be releasing who I am going to vote for before the election happens and I may not release it after the election. I do not want to influence anyone. I want everyone to vote their heart and their conscience, which is what I am going to do.
People are having a ball with nicknames for you and fans. Do you have an opinion on these?
I'm just glad everyone is having a good time. A little gentle ribbing never hurt anybody. I realize I look goofy and I say things normal people wouldn't say on television, but that's all part of the fun. I'm just trying to have a good time. So, if people want to do a little give-and-take with that, I am fine with it. The really mean parts of the internet are kind of sinking to the bottom and mostly it has all been positive stuff with people who just want to have fun.
Have there been any negative responses?
I have only had one or two phone calls that were kind of alarming, but I've alerted my local police, who are really great and they're doing increased patrols in my neighborhood to make my wife feel safe while I'm not there. But [feedback] has been overwhelmingly, like 99 percent, positive.
How alarming were those few calls?
I think I got one while I was on another station earlier today and the person read me my home address and told me he would meet me when I got home. You hate to hear that kind of thing. I don't really put that much stock into it. Negative people are going to be negative. The odds of him living in my area are remote. He's just some guy who got my number from the internet.
And finally, the country knows your first and last name, what is your middle name?
It's Dean. They wanted to name me for both of my grandfathers. Kenneth Bone, he was my father's father, who they gave me my first name for. And then Maurice, my mother's father. But then they decided they didn't like the name Maurice as much, so they gave me his middle name, Dean. Like, James Dean.