Society has always favoured the young. The dewy-faced generation with their unwrinkled fingers on the pulse of ever-trending apps and ever-increasing Instagram followers. Hollywood, and indeed any industry where the youth-vote is a necessity, is awash with stories of younger and younger employees hired to cast their Millennial gazes over industry trends and set new benchmarks in the search for more relevant coverage. However, in a thoroughly modern twist of fate, it seems that the proverbial sands of time are changing.
It is not often that careers go backwards but in the case of Mr Rutherford, that is exactly what has been happening. In a curious case of Benjamin Button-esque proportions, it seems that, at the age of 49, Eric Rutherford is having something of a renaissance. In an industry that has become obsessed with Instagram followers and (I shudder at the word) ‘influencers’, Rutherford is, to coin a phrase, leading the charge of the ‘Phwoarty-somethings’ (Sunday Times Style Magazine). His salt and peppered Instagram currently has 170,000 followers and is growing daily. His appeal is heightened not simply by his physical appearance – Silver Fox doesn’t even come close – instead Rutherford’s appeal seems to be as a style magnate to every generation of man. His Instagram is a captivating mix of styles for every type of mood and, in an indirect way, exacerbates a current zeitgeist of freedom and fluidity of sexuality - a confident expression of self – not only does Rutherford rewrite the rule book, he goes so far as to throw it away again.
His journey essentially begins at a 5-year old’s birthday in 2014 – not his own obviously, that would be pre-emptive by anyone’s standards – but the daughter of a friend. A casting director also at the same party told him that his look was ‘trending’. Rutherford was booked a couple of days later in what turned out to be the first step in a new chapter of his life. In fashion’s exhausting search for the fresh and new it seems that the simple act of acceptance of oneself has turned out to be the freshest thing of all. Now, if you’re thinking that all this seems too easy then I should mention that he started modelling young (age fifteen) and acting even younger (age 11) so this isn’t entirely new territory. Discovered riding a bike in his native Florida, there followed acting and modelling gigs and a move at the tender age of 17 to the acting mecca of LA. However, as with any good LA story, the inevitable happened. Left as a teenager to his own devices alcohol, drugs and parties started playing an ever more present role in his life to the point where, at the age of 20, and after years of trudging to castings and attempting to figure out the next step, Rutherford got sober. A turning point in his life and one which he is more than willing to advocate as a source of his current vigour, Rutherford has been tee-total for 27 years and has never looked back. “My life and dreams were in a downward spiral. I knew something had to change and I knew it was me. I have worked very hard since then to make every single moment matter. It has allowed me to show up when doors open, or when they close, and fully live out every amazing opportunity I am given. I wake up every day passionate, excited and grateful for the life I am living. All the bruises and scars have made me proud to be the man I am today. Many times it just means having blind faith to take the first step in order to change your life.”
A steep career ascent swiftly followed – he was signed by an agent and then the work came. For the next decade Rutherford worked well, supporting his acting and modelling jobs along the way by helping to produce events for high profile clients. As a curious twist of fate the production work began to outweigh the acting and by the end of the 90s Rutherford was collaborating with brands from Gap to Gucci and the iconic Oprah Winfrey. Production went hand in hand with consulting work and a full time role at the
Hollywood Reporter as Director of Events and Special Projects. So why, one would dare to ask, would a highly successful man in his 50s decide to give it all up to, gasp, start modelling again?! “Some say I threw away a great life. But I say I jumped to open up new doors, and windows, to something even greater. A life filled with renewed creativity, collaboration, curiosity and passion. I just didn't want to be the 'old guy' that had regrets.”
In my opinion, it seems now, that in a world where our eyes barely have the chance to process the myriad of new information they
receive before being updated with a swipe-right or a double-tap, that what we are yearning for is something more tangible, more
understandable and infinitely more pertinent. Mr Rutherford has the face of a man that has travelled a journey many of us aspire to whilst possessing an understanding that few of us will ever know. Is this all conveyed in his Instagram? Maybe not, but given the inevitable forward march of his career, we’ll all be very sure of his message very soon.