Behind every meme, there’s a story. Sometimes that story is as straightforward as the meme itself, but, as is the case with the guy who lent his face to the “Hide The Pain, Harold” meme, there’s a normal person who just happened to make an expression funny enough to spark an internet sensation.
BuzzFeed Video tracked down “Harold”—a retired electrical engineer from Hungary named András Arató—to get the full story behind those stock photos of a man drinking coffee and checking the computer with a forced smile on his face. As it turns out, Arató was drawn into the world of stock modeling about 10 years ago after a photographer who “was seeking a character like me” noticed his selfies. Arató was such a great subject that he was requested again and again, slipping into roles as diverse as doctor and professor to painter and “husband.”
Arató is extremely charming (a trait we all look for in our doctors and husbands) as he describes discovering he had become a meme. “It was horrifying when I encountered the first memes,” he says, looking straight into the camera. “Because there was some really rude or disgusting jokes with me.” Maintaining the same calm, smiling presence that made his “Harold” photo such a success, Arató explains, though, that he was able to come to terms with his meme status and capitalize on it in order to become the kind of micro-celebrity who, as the video shows, does Coke ads, signs autographs, and takes pictures with his fans.
Now, emboldened by his runaway success, Arató has a comedy film in the works. Whether he has the goods to carry an entire movie on his shoulders, we’ll have to wait and see. Somehow, we expect that even if this film project doesn’t go well, Arató will grin and bear it.
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