Press Kit


Press Release



David Pagano, Director

[email protected]




New York, NY (May 21, 2021) — An upcoming documentary will finally tell the definitive story of actor/comedian Jim Varney and his most iconic character, the lovable know-it-all Ernest P. Worrell.

On May 25, 2021, The Importance of Being Ernest launches its Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a feature-length documentary that will explore the life of Jim Varney and the evolution of Ernest P. Worrell. Originally conceived as a commercial pitchman in 1980, the Ernest character launched Varney to national fame as the star of an eponymous film series and an Emmy-award-winning TV show.

New York filmmaker David Pagano has teamed up with Daniel Butler (veteran writer and actor of the Ernest film series) and writer Justin Lloyd (Varney’s nephew and author of the biography of the same name) for this new film venture. Using their intimate connections to Varney’s private and professional life, they will craft a celebration of the late performer’s work and the lasting legacy of the Ernest character—a legacy that continues more than 40 years after the character’s inception and 20 years after Varney’s untimely passing.

The documentary will feature archival footage, cast and crew interviews, and never-before-seen material to tell the full story of Jim Varney and Ernest on screen and serve as a definitive behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Ernest franchise and Varney’s career. Additionally, the filmmakers are working to preserve fragile archival footage, interviews, and other Jim Varney media to safeguard the memory of this beloved American icon for future generations of fans.

Pagano’s motivation to make the film comes from the duality of the classically trained, highly-intelligent Varney and the bumbling, eccentric Ernest whom he so consummately portrayed. “Jim Varney lived and breathed acting. For as goofy of a character as Ernest was, Jim still played him with depth and consideration, and his talent made the world believe Ernest was a real person.”

For Daniel Butler, the film is an opportunity to learn more about his friend and coworker. “There is so much that we are learning about Jim Varney and Ernest P. Worrell in the research for this documentary. It’s just amazing how much I didn’t know about a man I worked with for 15 years.”

The Importance of Being Ernest is currently in pre-production, and the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for the documentary runs through June 25, 2021. Supporters can help fund the campaign at and share it using the #IOBE and #BeingErnestFilm hashtags.

High-resolution press images, and interviews with David Pagano, Justin Lloyd and Daniel Butler are available upon request.