The Man That Makes Women

Fizzzzz


By Fraser Massey
New Weekly Sept. 8, 1997
Paul Johansson is sending women into a frenzy in the latest Diet Coke commercial

     Paul Johansson has women bubbling over with anticipation every day. He's the hunk in the television commercial who delivers cans of Diet Coke to a group of female office workers- and from the look of them, they seem to be thirsting for something more than just a fizzy drink.

     It's not just office workers who have succumbed to Paul's charms. Australian women may have only just spotted the former international basketball star because of the TV ad, but supermodel Cindy Crawford snared him when he was a struggling actor in Hollywood.

    He dated Cindy for nine months until she went out for a night on her own and didn. t get home until 4 am. "She woke me up and told me she'd just met someone she really liked and that she wanted to be with him," recalls Paul. "She was very cool about dumping me."

     The someone Cindy had met was her future husband, Richard Gere.

     But, despite his goods looks, it seems 31-year-old Paul's dating manner leaves a lot to be desired. After chatting up Cindy at an airport and getting her to agree to have dinner with him, he then kept her waiting for two days before he phoned to ask her out. "I didn't know who she was," he admits.

     It was Paul's flatmate, Beverly Hills 90210's Jaosn Priestly, who set him straight. But he says. That wasn't his worst dating experience. While at college, he decided to ask one girl out, even though he was flat broke.

     "I took her to dinner anyway but when the bill came it was far more than I could afford," he explains. "I had to ring up my friends and ask them to bring money to the restaurant. The girl and I sat there for two hours until I'd got enough money to pay. Of course, she never went out with me again."

     If Paul hand. t been a TV hunk, he'd have ended up a sports hunk. The son of a professional ice hockey player, he went to college in Vancouver in his native Canada on a basketball scholarship. He then toured China, Israel, and Greece as part of the Canadian national basketball team.

     But, in 1987, just before the Olympics in Korea, he gave it up. "To this day, my dad's still upset that I didn't stay on to compete in the Olympics," he says. "But I always felt the odd one out as an athlete. I was interested in theatre, art, and literature. I had a different mind-set from my team-mates. It was a boy's club atmosphere in the dressing room. You had to keep any interest in arts private."

     Paul's big break into acting came while he was studying drama in Canada. "A Hollywood scout came to Vancouver and decided to take two people from the whole of Canada back with him," he explains. "That was me and Jason Priestly, who was in my drama class, too. It was too good an opportunity to miss."

     Paul got small parts in Beverly Hills 90210 and the glossy soap Santa Barbara, as well as a small role in the film Soapdish, with Sally Field, Kevin Kline and Whoopi Goldberg.

     But it was becoming the Diet Coke heart-throb that put him on the road to stardom. He's now been signed for John Travolta's next film, She's So Lovely, and this month begins filming the lead role in the horror movie Carnival of Souls.

     "I like the adverts," he says, "But the main thing is that they've provided me with the opportunity to do other things. I don't mind if people just think of me as the Diet Coke Hunk. It would be nice if they did more of them but if we don't it won't matter."

     But Paul is determined not to let his stardom go to his head.

     "In the grand scheme of things, acting isn't important", he says. "My ambitions are things like getting married and having a family. My mum and dad are still married after 37 years and still very much in love. Dad still calls Mum his bride. My aim is to be as happy with someone as my parents are with each other."




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