Actor goes viral for dressing up as life-sized ‘pizza rat’ in New York City

There’s a new “pizza rat” in town and his name is Buddy the Rat. The life-sized rodent is bringing joy — in the most New York City way possible — back to public spaces. 

Jonothon Lyons is the artist and actor behind the massive rat head and matching brown jumpsuit. He started wearing the outfit in public spaces after getting spotted in the ensemble by a TikTok user

“I just shot a movie with director Todd Strauss-Schulson (Isn’t it Romantic, The Final Girls, Harold and Kumar 3) and someone’s video of us shooting on the street went viral so I started going out and ratting around on my own,” Lyons told In The Know. 

The actor has since continued playfully terrorizing city-goers. In an Instagram video, Buddy the Rat crawled into a subway train on all fours. He sat across from a man who in true New Yorker fashion remained completely oblivious to the giant rat across from him as he checked his phone. 

Buddy’s mask clearly serves as some nice protective gear since it covers Lyon’s entire head (although he does sometimes rock a proper mask underneath). But the pandemic looms in the background of his videos as he traverses a city that just feels emptier.

“[The outbreak] was truly devastating. I was just about to enter rehearsals at The Metropolitan Opera for Madama Butterfly when the lockdown happened,” Lysons said. “Part of what I’m doing now really is bringing live performance out to the street since I can’t ask people to gather in a theater.” 

Another clip featured Buddy lugging a giant pizza slice up the subway stairs with his teeth. Awestruck passersby couldn’t help but stop to take photos and video.

Ultimately, Buddy is all about having a blast performing for outdoor audiences. 

“Buddy is thrilled about the attention,” Lyons said. “All he ever wanted to do is travel the world and make people smile and now thanks to the internet it seems he’s got the world smiling. I hope when people run into Buddy they feel a little bit brighter for a moment.”

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