The “Distracted Boyfriend” meme stock models called the shoot “curious and funny.” Laura, who played “the girlfriend,” stated, “When people saw us simulate those scenes in the street, they stopped to look and laugh, and in my case, that I had to have a more serious face — I had a hard time to keeping it.” Mario, aka “the boyfriend,” remembers the photo shoot as “a learning experience” for tuning out onlookers (via Intelligencer).
Two years after the photo shoot, the meme would go viral. In the beginning of 2017, it was posted to a Turkish Facebook group about progressive rock by user Kaan Aksoy, who The Daily Dot calls “the first one to attach labels to the picture.” The meme was created to illustrate musician Phil Collins opting for a more pop music sound over his traditional progressive rock and … the rest is history.
Since blowing up online, the models of the meme have stayed humble. In a 2017 interview with Intelligencer, Mario stated, “I was a bit surprised because I didn’t expect that a photo that we made would become so popular on social media.” But the model has no plans to capitalize on his growing facial recognition. “I do not really have the time to follow these things, but for what I have seen, I can say that it’s crazy what people can imagine.”