In a series of KFC ads debuting on May 25, Hammond will “become” the beloved Kentucky Fried Chicken founder — who appeared in ads for the fried chicken company in the ’60s and ’70s — taking on his likeness right down to his signature white hair and black bow tie (as seen in these exclusive photos).
“Because [Col. Sanders] is no longer with us, we needed to find the greatest impersonator of our generation,” Kevin Hochman, CMO of KFC, tells PEOPLE. “Darrell has mastered the cadence, tone and mannerisms of other celebrated figures … so, who better to play one of America’s dearest icons than [him].”
The fast food chain even offered Hammond the role in a comedic spirit. “KFC asked Darrell to consider the role by sending him a fake letter from the Colonel’s fake attorney which stated that the Colonel had asked that Darrell play him if the time ever arose that the brand wanted to bring the Colonel back,” says Hochman.
So, what does the actor think of his new gig? “It’s an honor to bring to life such an iconic figure … and it doesn’t hurt that KFC is paying me in chicken — which, at the time sounded like a good idea, because I was very hungry that day,” he joked.
—Michelle Ward Trainor