Verizon's iconic "Test Man" ad character is being dropped after nearly a decade—and after being silent for much of that time, actor Paul Marcarelli is finally talking. Marcarelli, who said "Can you hear me now?" in hundreds of ads, says the company let him know last fall that they plan to take their advertising in a different direction. His original five-year contract with the company had banned him from taking other commercial work or discussing any aspect of the ad campaign, he tells the Atlantic. Now, he is still under contract, but eager to promote an upcoming project.
His years as Test Man weren't always easy, Marcarelli says. Teens used to drive past his home at night shouting the catchphrase, along with homophobic slurs, and he didn't file a police report because he was afraid of the publicity. At his grandmother's funeral, a family friend whispered "Can you hear me now?" as her body was lowered into the ground. With the end of the Verizon gig, which took up a couple hundred days a year, Marcarelli is focusing on The Green, a movie he wrote and co-produced about a small town that turns on a gay couple. (Read more Verizon stories.)