The Internet never forgets, and classic videos from celebrities’ pasts tend to pop up every so often. Dominic Keating, who, according to Memory Alpha, played Lt. Malcolm Reed for four seasons on “Star Trek: Enterprise,” is experiencing such a moment. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the British actor appeared in several commercials for Vidal Sassoon. This was around the same time, according to the Internet Movie Database, that he was co-starring on the popular British television show, “Desmond’s.”
Keating continues to act and he makes frequent “Star Trek” convention appearances, often in tandem with his “Enterprise” colleague and longtime friend, Connor Trinneer. The two men currently host a video podcast called “The Shuttlepod Show,” and in part two of a recent three-part conversation about Keating’s career, he addressed the Vidal Sassoon commercials in detail.
Pre-‘Trek,’ Keating Was Already a Star in the U.K. Thanks to ‘Desmond’s’ & His Popular Vidal Sassoon Commercials
“‘Do you remember Dominic Keating, the hairdressing actor?'” Keating joked to Trinneer. “There was definitely a time in my career when I did nothing but hairdressers. So, I played the young apprentice hairdresser up in Edinburgh. I got Tony on ‘Desmond’s,’ as the hairdresser, and right at that time — and God knows that is a story — Vidal Sassoon himself had just sold the business to Procter & Gamble. Procter & Gamble were now looking to educate, particularly America, that this was no longer some sort of boutique, little London salon thing. This was a worldwide concern. And they were looking for the Vidal Sassoon boy to do this commercial campaign for the States.
“Now, the woman that was casting that was called Beth Charkham, and she didn’t really like me,” he continued. “I don’t quite know why. She was a no-nonsense London casting director. Tough as nails. Bit of a bulldog. Either I was too posh or… I did a lot of come-up casting for commercials back in those days, and at some point I’d pissed this woman off. So, when I got called in for this, I was like, “Oh, they must be scraping the barrel.’ So, I go in, I do this thing in front of the camera. ‘Here at Vidal Sassoon, we work a lot of hair and use a lot of products, and here’s this new spray-on gel,’ whatever. The first one was for a spray-on hair gel.”
Keating explained that he didn’t think anything of it. He walked out and headed to a pub for a drink. It was, he recalled, a Thursday afternoon in what he referred to as his “hellraiser days.” He subsequently limped back to his “digs in Clapham North.” it was now “Monday, lunchtime.” It had been, as he put it, “a bit of a weekend.” He checked his answering machine, only to hear dozens of messages from Beth Charkham and his agent asking, “‘Where are you?! The Yanks are in town and they want to see you. Golden Square, Red Lion, one o’clock Monday..” Keating recalled trying to pass on the opportunity, but Charkham demanded that he “Sh-t, shower, shave, and get down there!'”
“I made the mistake of actually showering,” Keating told Trinneer, picking up the story. “You know when you shouldn’t? And I’m now on the tube and I’m rattling down to the West End, and I’m going green. The sweats are starting. I get to Golden Square in Soho. Posh, plush offices. I go into this casting and the Yanks are in town. Everybody’s there. I’ve got the copy in front of me and it’s slightly shaky. ‘Here at Vidal Sassoon we work a lot of hair and use a lot of product, and this new spray-on gel is absolutely amazing.’ Anyway, I get through it and I’m standing there and I could feel a trickle
“‘Okay, yeah, that’s great, Dominic. That’s great. I wonder if we could try one more time. And perhaps this time you might do it a little faster,'” Keating continued, recounting his director’s words. “Executive Decision… ‘Do you mind if I sit down?’ I can see Beth Charkham just (stewing). I put the coffee on the table. I said, ‘Listen, I’ll be straight with you guys. I can do this. I went out for a quick drink on Thursday night. I got home about an hour ago. I’m shattered. absolutely shattered. I just can’t do it now. I can do this. You’ve seen it on the tape. I can do it. Just can’t do it now.’ And the guy looked at me and he goes, ‘I told you he was our guy!’ I swear to God, I see exactly how it went down.”
Keating Spent Four Seasons Portraying Lt. Malcolm Reed on ‘Enterprise’
The Sassoon commercial soon aired in the United States, according to Keating, and it tested higher with viewers than any of the company’s previous commercials. The actor said the Sassoon team told him, “Dominic, you’re a star. People either love you or hate you, but 75% loved you,” and they “rushed” him back into production on a new commercial. That commercial, he said, was for Sassoon Salon Formula Hair and Conditioner and ran for four years in America.
“‘If you don’t look good, we don’t look good,'” Keating told Trinneer, repeating the famous Sassoon tagline of the era. “I got spoofed. I got spoofed by Dana Carvey on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ Roxanne, the agent, she got me double SAG rates on that commercial. Years and years later, I’m at Soho House at the Electric and I know that the chap sitting next to me with a slightly younger wife is somebody. ‘Is he from Pink Floyd? I know he’s somebody. And then he wandered off for a lie-down in the snug room and the slightly younger wife is now talking to the assistant. Sure as sh-t if she doesn’t start talking about the days when they sold out to Procter & Gamble.
“I went, ‘I knew it,'” he continued. “That was Vidal. He’s passed away now, bless him. But I sat there like this, next to Vidal. I mean, it changed my life, that commercial. It literally changed my life… It was nuts, the checks that came through my letterbox.”