You might be surprised to learn some actors didn’t make it big time starring in a massive blockbuster movie or show, but actually did a bit of small advertising roles while they were kids, hoping for their big break. Look out for Britney Spears before she ever thought of Baby One More Time, and Kristin Stewart long before her Twilight Fame. These are the lucky few who managed to hit the big time. But sometimes it works differently, and campaigns use celebrities with an already huge following.
Bar Rafaeli – GoDaddy
One of the most recognizable and memorable of the GoDaddy Super Bowl commercials has to be the one starring model and actress Bar Rafaeli. In the advertisement, Bar shared a ten second kiss with on-screen geek Jesse Heiman. He is known as the “world’s greatest extra” after appearing in the background in so many different shows and movies. Despite being 39, he still plays teenagers! Apparently, the kiss with Bar took 60 takes!
Laurel Coppock – Toyota
Laurel Coppock has a comedy CV which is one of the longest in the industry, but did you know that she was also in this Toyota commercial as Toyota Jan, a salesperson in store? She is best known for Modern Family, The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and 2 Broke Girls. She’s also been in sketch shows and other comedy panels, as she’s so likeable and hilarious, everyone wants to get her on board! We laugh just looking at the Toyota commercial still!
Jonathan Goldsmith – Dos Equis Beer
Some of the worlds favorite meme’s have come out of this well created advertisement for the popular beer brand, Dos Equis. Jonathan Goldsmith was not always the top choice for this role, but his manager (and his wife!) told the producers that they didn’t want a 20-something for the part, they should look for someone with acting and life experience to play the title role of “the most interesting man in the world.” The advert is world-famous, so it looks like they chose well.
Dean Winters – AllState
It’s the AllState disaster guy! Dean Winters is a talented actor, moving seamlessly from acting in commercials like this one, to TV roles in shows such as 30-Rock and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. He’s great as a comedy actor, but we bet he was happy to have these parts in the famous adverts while he waited to be noticed in Hollywood. Those cuts and bruises look pretty realistic too. Ouch!
Rachel Bilson – Magnum Ice Cream
Ice cream on a stick is synonymous with Magnum, and this advert shows how delicious it can look, even on the small screen! Rachel Bilson was chosen for this part, best known from her part as Summer in the hit show, The OC. She was also been on Gossip Girl, Hart of Dixie, and That 70’s Show, as well as moving over to movies for The To Do List, as well as New York, I Love You.
Beck Bennet – AT&T
If you’re a fan of Saturday Night Live, you already recognize Beck Bennet. But did you spot him in the AT&T commercials, with his famous tag line “It’s not that complicated”? Here he is, straight-faced as ever teaching school children, which is one of the situations the producers put him in, which he manages to make far more complex than it is. Outside of SNL and the AT&T ads, he has also been on Arrested Development, plus a couple of movies.
Justin Hagan and Henry Strozier – Ocean Spray
We all laughed at this commercial when it came out, showing two southern guys getting annoyed with one another! Here they are, both on camera and off, in their costumes and having fun on set, advertising the popular cranberry drink. Justin Hagan and Henry Strozier didn’t know one another in real life, but they got on really well on set, and had fantastic hilarious on-screen chemistry too! Looks like a cold day!
Leonardo DiCaprio – Bubble Yum
Aww…! Look at baby DiCaprio! Who knew that he could make bubblegum look so darn cute? Here is Leo long before his Titanic days, before he was a world famous actor, when he was just a kid enjoying the first feelings of fame in front of the camera. Later on, he would become Oscar winning, Environment-saving, Hollywood loving Leo, the best friend of Kate Winslet, but now, he’s just a kid with some bubblegum. We love it!
Stephanie Courtney – Progressive Insurance
Some people are known for their acting roles, and we get surprised when we learn they were ever in commercials, and sometimes-it’s the other way around! Flo is one of the best known characters from advertising, and Stephanie Courtney still plays that role today, almost a decade after she began! She does get the odd break though, managing to find time to guest star in shows such as Mad Men, and Tom Goes to the Mayor.
Beyonce – Pepsi
Sometimes a commercial is what an actor does before they become a celebrity, and other times, companies ask huge celebrities to help sell their advertising campaign! Pepsi is known for paying top dollar to help their products sell, and this is no different. Beyonce is literally the Queen of the music scene, so seeing her enjoying a can of the soft drink no doubt pushed sales through the roof in this Super Bowl commercial.
Scarlet Johansson – Soda Stream
Scarlett Johansson was the face of Soda Stream a few years back, in an advert which caused controversy. The Soda Stream factory is in the West Bank of Israel, and provides jobs to both Israeli’s and Palestinians. Many felt that this Israeli owned company shouldn’t be supported, but Scarlett stood by her decision to help the situation move forward, and advertise a product which helps support peace in the Middle East.
Brad Pitt – Pringles
We always do a double take when we see the humble beginnings of a major Hollywood actor, and this time is no different. Imagine if someone had told little Brad Pitt that one day he would be one of the best paid actors in LA! Since this snack commercial was filmed, Brad has starred in movies like Oceans Eleven, World War Z, and Benjamin Button. He’s also racked up two marriages to two of the most talented women in the industry, Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie.
George Clooney – Nespresso
When you think Nespresso coffee, you want to think smooth, silky and expensive charm. And that’s what you think when you hear George Clooney too! The silver fox is known for being the guy who gets the girl in Hollywood, and here he is, showing his expensive tastes on the classy Nespresso advert for their famous pod machines. George is currently taking a step back from acting until he finds a role he likes the look of.
Ben Affleck – Burger King
Ben Affleck! Burger King! How could he have guessed that he would become one of the biggest names in Hollywood, including acting, writing and directing credits too. Him and Matt Damon were break-out stars when they wrote and starred in Good Will Hunting, launching them both to super-stardom. We bet when Ben starred in this drive-thru Burger King commercial, he never could have imagined where the road ahead would take him.
Tina Fey – Mutual Savings
If you’re a true fangirl, you probably already know that Tina Fey was once in this advert for Mutual Savings Bank, terrible 90’s ‘do and all! Just look at that awful outfit, haircut, and pose! Through a tremendous amount of talent and hard work, Tina Fey is now one of Hollywood’s most celebrated writers and comedians, with work which includes 30-Rock, the movie Mean Girls, and Saturday Night Live. We love her to pieces!
Aaron Paul – Corn Pops
This 1999 commercial was one of Aaron Paul’s first gigs, as a lanky teenage boy having breakfast at home. Just look at him now! The actor has moved onwards and upwards, and is now best known for the hit TV show, the critically acclaimed Breaking Bad. We bet he hardly remembers those days, standing around all day on set with a cereal bowl and a spoon, waiting for his five seconds on camera! Life is funny sometimes.
Usain Bolt – Virgin
When Richard Branson was looking for someone to sell his fastest internet of all time, who better to choose than the fastest person of all time?! Usain Bolt is known for being almost super-humanly quick on his feet, so it makes sense that he was chosen to advertise super-fast internet speeds for Virgin mobile. He did a great job endorsing this advert, and Virgin has gone from strength to strength, so we bet Branson thinks so, too.
Keanu Reeves – Coca Cola
This is another one of those celebrity double takes. Keanu Reeves was on our screens long before we knew he was, in this 80’s commercial for Coca Cola. He looks worn out after a bike ride, and stops for a refreshing drink of Coca Cola, we think he’s selling it really well! No wonder he ended up having a long and successful career in acting, from Speed and The Matrix, to John Wick and The Lakehouse. We think he looks better now, though.
Tom Hiddleston – Jaguar
Tom Hiddleston was chosen by car brand, Jaguar to be the face of their advertising campaign, as they liked his suave style and charm. Nowadays, he’s known for more high profile acting roles, such as being Loki in the Thor movies, and dating the best known singer on the planet, Taylor Swift. He doesn’t look all that different to his commercial days though, so his world has changed pretty ‘swiftly’. #sorrynotsorry.
Steve Harvey – T-Mobile
Did you know that Steve Harvey is not just the face of the Steve Harvey Show? He’s also well known for advertising the T-mobile phone brand, as well as the hit show Family Feud. In fact, he’s one of the most coveted TV presenters in the States, allowing him to choose gigs like hosting Miss Universe as well! He doesn’t always get it right, but we love watching him try! He’s a super recognizable face, which is probably why T-mobile chose him in the first place.
Stanley Tucci – Levi’s
Stanley Tucci is a super versatile actor, with credits in movies like The Hunger Games and Captain America, as well as on television in ER, 30-rock and Frasier, to name just a few. But so many celebs start out with small roles in commercials, and here is Stanley Tucci many many years ago, in a Levi’s commercial! He’s looking super ripped, and although we can’t see the jeans themselves, we bet he’s doing a great job of selling them to the crowd!
Mike O’Malley – Time Warner
You probably recognize this guy best as Kurt’s dad from Glee, as well as one of the stars of My Name is Earl, and Parenthood with Erika Christiansen. He has also been in Eat Pray Love, and Leatherheads with George Clooney. But before all of that, here he is in a commercial for Time Warner Cable, who provide entertainment services across the United States. He played a repair man, and a very convincing one he was too.
Jennifer Aniston – SmartWater
Jennifer Aniston has made some serious cash starring in and endorsing SmartWater. Her starring role helped get people to buy the drink, as well as giving it a much needed touch of glam. While of course, she will always be best known for her break out role in Friends as Rachel Green, she is now a coveted actress in Hollywood, recently acting in movies like Horrible Bosses, and Cake, as well as Wanderlust and We are the Millers.
Alec Baldwin – BT
BT stands for British Telecom, and the company provides phone and internet services. In this advertisement, Alec Baldwin is seen selling BT Mobile, which supplies WiFi and 4G to customers in the UK. His iconic comedy deadpan style is used, which anyone who watches 30-rock will be familiar with by now. One of the famous Baldwin brothers, this is celebrity capital used to great effect for the British company.
Rowan Atkinson – Snickers
Doing his famous Mr Bean face, Rowan Atkinson starred in this chocolate commercial. Many celebs have been chosen to be part of the Snickers marketing campaign, which has the famous tagline “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” In this particular advert, Atkinson plays a kung fu warrior, and uses his comedy skills to great effect. He is also known for playing the title role in the Johnny English movies, as well as the Mr Bean franchise.
Paris Hilton – Carls Jr
We can’t imagine that Paris Hilton eats that many fast food burgers, but she certainly makes it look realistic in this advert! She was chosen for her celebrity status and good looks, and is seen in her bikini, washing a car, while eating a burger from Carls Jr. While many felt like the advert was stereotypical and eye rollingly cliched, we bet it sold a fair few burgers! After this 2005 advert, they asked her to star again in 2014.
Bruce Willis – Honda
Bruce Willis is a really great actor who has done a number of varied roles, from comedy and action, to thrillers and drama. He is well known for the Die Hard franchise, as well as his part in The Sixth Sense. In this 2014 Honda advert, which aired during the SuperBowl, he is seen with fellow actor Fred Armisen, as he tells the viewers to make sure to “hug their nearest and dearest!” The look on his face is priceless, and says it all.
Britney Spears – Maull’s BBQ Sauce
It’s Britney! We all know that Brit was famous from a young age, a member of The Mickey Mouse Club which also has Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake as stars, and #1 on the charts before her school days were over. But did you know that she was on TV as well? This advert was all about Maull’s famous barbeque sauce, and showed her as a young kid, excited about chowing down on a burger at a barbeque.
Kristen Stewart – Porsche
Kristin Stewart is now one of the most famous women in show business, a sought after actress who is best known for the Twilight Sage films, as well as American Ultra and Come Swim. But long before these movies, long before she had even thought about falling in love with a Vampire, she was just a child actress being cast in commercials, like this one for the car brand Porsche. She’s an adorable kid here, and turned into a stunning woman and talented actress.
Jodie Foster – Coppertone
This might be our youngest appearance of a future celebrity! Jodie Foster was only a toddler when she acted in the Coppertone commercial. At three years old, she was starting a career which would last for decades. Her big break into film was the movie Taxi Driver, and since then she has been in movies which span lots of genes, including Elysium, Inside Man, and Carnage. While many child actresses burn out fast, that’s not the case with Ms Foster.
Lindsay Lohan – Jell-O
Nowadays, Lindsay Lohan is remembered for her epic years as a child star (The Parent Trap is still one of our favorite movies) as well as her rather awkward and embarrassing transition into the adult world of Hollywood. Nevertheless, before she became super famous and saw double as a child star, Lohan landed herself a role alongside Bill Cosby in a commercial for Jell-O. Although she has since left the world of acting behind her, this is still iconic.
John Travolta – Band-Aids
John Travolta has always been known for his singing and dancing skills, but did you ever think you’d see him singing in the shower with two men by his side? Nope, neither did we. But in the ‘70s, that’s exactly what he did for a Band-Aids commercial. We’re not sure why Band-Aids need to promote themselves as we all kinda need them, but Travolta was on hand to promote them in the best (or some would say worst) way possible.
Tobey Maguire – Doritos
In this day and age, Tobey Maguire is known to be one of the biggest names in the world of Hollywood and is especially known for scaling buildings, shooting webs out of his wrists, and saving the world (as you do). However, while he was just starting out as a professional actor while he was in the eighth grade, Tobey was cast in a Doritos commercial, where he had to eat them for four days straight. Sounds good to us.
Mila Kunis – Lisa Frank
From a young age, Mila Kunis has always been in the spotlight. One of her most impressive accolades came in 1993 when she appeared in a commercial for the hugely popular brand, Lisa Frank. We really hope she got a lifetime supply of stickers for that role! Since then, Mila has become a force to be reckoned with and appeared in the likes of That ‘70s Show, Friends With Benefits, Black Swan and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
Matt LeBlanc – Heinz
Matt LeBlanc is most famous for his role on the titular American sitcom, Friends (how you doin’?!). Alongside working with the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer and more; Matt was also renowned for starring in some of the biggest commercials of the ‘80s and ‘90s. During this time, he appeared in ads for Coca-Cola, KFC, Cherry 7Up and even Heinz Tomato Ketchup. Yep, we definitely think that was the highlight of his career…
Paul Rudd – Super Nintendo
We all love video games; we really didn’t need a commercial to tell us how great Super Nintendo was – we all wanted one anyway. To make their video games sound even cooler, Super Nintendo enlisted the help of Paul Rudd in 1991. Not only was Paul Rudd one of the coolest people around, but they decked him out in a trenchcoat, and got him playing games on a giant screen in the middle of nowhere, in the dark. Why not?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Pop Tarts
It’s no secret that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of the cutest actors in the whole of Hollywood (those dimples!). Although he’s now grown into a handsome young man, we just can’t forget his adorable baby face in 3rd Rock From the Sun. However, before he tried his hand at acting on the sitcom, Joseph was making his pocket money in 1991 by appearing in the commercials for Pop Tarts. Needless to say, the commercial was so darn cute.
Bryan Cranston – Preparation H
Bryan Cranston is a largely serious actor. He has played intense and serious characters in the likes of Breaking Bad, Power Rangers, All the Way, and Saving Private Ryan. However, we have to admit that his attempt at commercial work in the early ‘80s is incredibly comical. Yep, it’s not often you get to hear a young Bryan Cranston talk about ‘inflamed hemorrhoid tissue’ or ‘sensitive itches’ – but you do in this commercial for Preparation H.
Jane Lynch – Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes
Jane Lynch is now regarded as one of the best actresses in the world of Hollywood and the kind of actress who can turn her hand to anything. It seems this isn’t a new development, as at the start of her career, Jane appeared in a commercial for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. Her grrrrrreat appearance in this commercial landed her numerous acting gigs, and is the reason Jane calls this exposure the catalyst that started her professional career.
Demi Moore – Diet Coke
Demi Moore started her professional acting career at a young age, and was even a teen model. But before all that, one of Demi’s first acting roles came in the form of a Diet Coke commercial. In this commercial, she sported a rather interesting ‘80s haircut that she now probably regrets, and some rather obvious acting we can safely say has largely improved in recent years. This commercial was first aired during the iconic Super Bowl 22 halftime.
Seth Green – Nerf
We’ve known for a while now that it’s Nerf or nothing, and we have Seth Green to thank for that. The actor, comedian and film director got his start in 1992 when he was enlisted to help Nerf promote their new products. With his epic bangs, his ‘cool’ outfit and his ability to pick up the ladies, Seth promoted the heck out of this Nerf product – and was actually one of the only reason we bought it.
Farrah Fawcett – Noxzema
You might remember Noxzema for having one of the most embarrassing commercial taglines of all time – and that’s not just coming from us. In fact, TIME called it one of their top 10 embarrassing commercials, and Farrah Fawcett got to be a part of that. With the awkward ‘let Noxzema cream on your face’ tagline, this shaving foam commercial featured the Charlie’s Angel and Joe Namath in a cringe-worthy embrace, that attempted to shove off the product.
Steve Carrell – Brown’s Chicken
We bet you never spotted Steve Carrell in this commercial for Browns Chicken! He was cast before his glory days in The Office, and played a staff member who was super happy about his job! He’s probably glad those days are behind him, now that he has achieved real fame, with movies such as Crazy, Stupid Love, and The 40-Year Old Virgin. Interesting to see how he worked his way up from small roles and advertisements though.
Christopher Walken – Kia
Christopher Walken is one of the most recognizable Hollywood actors, starring in movies from Catch me if You Can, all the way to Batman Returns and The Deer Hunter. Sometimes marketing companies want to use massive names in their commercials, to try and encourage people to buy more of their product and remember the sales pitch, too. Christopher Walken must have cost the big bucks to score on this advert, and he did a great job.
Vanessa Branch – Orbit Chewing Gum
The Orbit Chewing Gum advert has brought hundreds of people to chewing orbit because of that “just brushed, clean feeling” that this actress brags about. But this actress is actually Vanessa Branch. While she hasn’t got a large acting portfolio, we bet you’ve seen her without even realizing it in the cult movie, Pirates of the Caribbean. She managed to get the role of being the woman to slap Captain Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp himself!
Elijah Wood – Cheddar Cheese
Before he became a hobbit hero, Wood took on a far more difficult challenge – helping Americans’ Dairy Farmers persuade the children of the Nineties that broccoli really is an edible foodstuff. Wood appeared in this commercial for cheddar cheese when he was just nine years old but even that wasn’t his first foray into television, having appeared on a Pizza Hut commercial a couple of years earlier. This year, Wood is focusing more on producing than acting, and his horror thriller, Mandy, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
John Goodman – Aftershave
When his hopes of being a professional footballer dashed by an unfortunate injury, Goodman turned his attention to acting and secured roles in several commercials. The Roseanne star teamed up with aftershave company, Mennen, in 1979 in which he slapped on the “chin chiller” which, at the time, contained a healthy amount of alcohol. In addition to reprising his role of Dan Conner in the Roseanne reboot this year, Goodman also has a couple of movies due for release in 2019, including the crime thriller, Captive State.
Jason Bateman – Honey Nut Cheerios
Bateman made some of his television appearances in cereal commercials, including this one for Honey Nut Cheerios. Although he admits he went off the rails for a bit in his 20s, indulging in “booze and some blow”, as he later put it. These days, Bateman is hot property in Hollywood and starred in the black comedy, Game Night earlier this year, while also taking the leading role in the critically acclaimed crime drama series, Ozark. Find out what our next celebrity had to advertise to get noticed in the Eighties.
Courtney Cox – Tampax
Although she’s better known for her portrayal of Monica Geller in the sitcom Friends, Cox should have received a standing ovation for being the first person to call a period a period on American television. Prior to this 1985 Tampax commercial, periods were referred to with strange euphemisms like, “that time of the month”. Earlier this year, Cox appeared at the Brit Awards with fiancé Johnny McDaid, a singer, and songwriter. The couple got engaged for the first time in 2015 but then split up, reconciling the following year.
Meg Ryan – Burger King
Before securing leading roles in When Harry Met Sally and a host of other romantic comedies, Ryan starred in a Burger King commercial some six years before her big break. While rumors abound that the actress is about to tie the knot with long-term boyfriend, the musician, John Mellencamp, Ryan is all set to appear on the comedy series, Picture Paris, based on the 2011 short film. The series focuses on a suburban mother whose dream trip to Paris falls short of her high expectations. Keep reading for more surprises.
Drew Barrymore – Dog Food
Drew Barrymore started working before she celebrated her first birthday, appearing in a dog food commercial when she was just 11 months old. By the time she appeared in her unforgettable role in E.T., Barrymore had plenty of acting experience. It wasn’t all plain sailing for the young actress, however, and, before she even reached her teenage years, she already had problems with drug and alcohol dependency. Thankfully, the actress managed to sort herself out and is currently starring in the Netflix series, Santa Clarita Diet.
Diane Amos – Pine-Sol
If you say Pine-Sol, we see the Pine-Sol lady! Some adverts just make an actors career, and they will always be known as that character, whatever else they end up doing! This actress is called Diane Amos, and she has managed to scoop a few other parts during her career, including well-known movies Patch Adams, Blue Jasmin, and Sweet November. But we still think of her as the Pine-Sol lady, and we always will!
Rachelle Wood – GoDaddy
GoDaddy are famous for their commercials, especially their Super Bowl offerings, which usually include stunning women, and fun storylines. In this one, Rachelle Wood was chosen for the part, best known for her TV credits, which include It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and How I Met Your Mother. She is seen here in a pizza store, with the iconic GoDaddy logo in the corner of the screen. She looks happier in real life!
Milana Vayntrub – AT&T
You might know her as that quirky girl from the AT&T commercials, but this actress is Milana Vayntrub, a Ukranian refugee who came to the states when she was three years old. Milana got her start online in her own Youtube show and with a few feature appearances in various Youtube sketches, like College Humor. Her most well-known role, however, is of Lily Adams, a store clerk at the AT&T store, always ready to help and lend a sarcastic comment.