15 Celebrity Commercials from Before They Were Stars
Tobey Maguire was just a kid.
Before suiting up as Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire briefly considered being a professional chef. In eighth grade, he found acting instead, and appeared in a Doritos commercial that still baffles viewers today. Set in a bowling alley, everyone is talking about “Bob” and how Doritos are his favorite snack, but Maguire doesn’t buy it, asking everyone “Who’s Bob?” before coming to the conclusion that “Bob’s not real!”
John Travolta was singing in the shower.
Talk about being typecast, John Travolta, the star of “Grease” and the remake of “Hairspray,” got his big break during the early 70’s when athletic-themed commercials featured a lot of scenes of men singing in the shower for some reason. Singing in commercials for Band-Aid’s and Safeguard while washing-up with the rest of his team mates, the former jingle was actually written by Barry Manilow.
Jennifer Lawrence was sassy in an MTV commercial.
I doubt anyone in the production of this MTV’s “My Super Sweet Sixteen” commercial thought that they had an Oscar winner on their hands, but this Jennifer Lawrence starring promo of a girl dropped on the dance-floor after being carried out on a pedestal launched the “Hunger Games” and “Silver Linings Playbook” actress’ career. She never went on to feature in the actual 2000’s MTV series however, which featured rich teens planning their extravagant sweet sixteen parties.
Leonardo DiCaprio advertised bubblegum.
He might have sold us stocks in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” but before “The Revenant” actor had to fight a bear to win his first Oscar, he was a fourteen-year old kid who appeared in a late ’80’s Bubble Yum commercial, blowing the woofers off of a giant speakers like Michael J. Fox in “Back to the Future.” It’s likely the only time in the history of DiCaprio’s career that you’ll hear him say “keep it poppin’.”
Steve Carell played a fast-food employee in his first ad.
As on NBC’s “The Office,” Steve Carell wasn’t always the best boss, let alone the best employee. In his first ad for a fast food joint called Brown’s Chicken, Carell fixes the “Cholesterol Free Cooking” as wind blows the letters away to only display “free,” causing people to believe they are giving away free chicken. “The response has been better that we anticipated,” he exclaims.
Ben Affleck pretended to be a delivery boy.
He may be the latest actor to play Batman on the big screen, but he got his start playing a delivery boy in an old Burger King commercial. He delivers a girl a chef salad before having to leave it at the door when his dad calls him to come home. The catch — he wasn’t a delivery boy at all, she just got the wrong number. “When you wanna give people what they want,” reads the narrator, “sometimes you gotta break the rules.”
Tina Fey made jokes in her commercial debut.
Tina Fey still appears in commercials for American Express, but before her fame on “SNL” and “30 Rock,” she stood in what appears to be an empty building for Mutual Savings Bank. Dubbed the “Hi” commercial, Fey rattles off and jokes about all the different ways your bank teller can greet you before changing direction to talk the bank’s “high” interest rates.
Mila Kunis fawned over Lisa Frank.
Children’s commercials are usually pretty colorful, but nothing has ever seemed as vibrant as this 1993 Lisa Frank commercial starring Mila Kunis. The “That ’70s Show” and “Black Swan” star is just 13 years old for the TV spot, and she’s head over heels for an absolutely over-the-top amount of Lisa Frank products.
Paul Rudd played classic games.
I’m not sure what kind of dystopian world this “Super Nintendo” commercial was set in, but it gave “Ant-Man and the Wasp” star Paul Rudd his first big break. Wearing a trench coat and playing video games displayed on a giant billboard, Rudd draws in a crowd as he plays through classic games such as “F-Zero,” “Simcity,” and “The Legend of Zelda.”
Bruce WIllis’ commercial had a catchy song.
Before he became a huge action star in over five “Die Hard” films, Bruce Willis was a happy-go-lucky man singing about wine coolers on a porch with his friends. Appearing in an ad for Seagram’s “wet and dry” wine cooler line, the song is … actually quite catchy.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt was in a breakfast commercial.
He might have stolen our hearts in “(500) Days of Summer,” but the hopeless romantic first got to us by way of a Pop Tart commercial as a child, where he makes sure his dad has a breakfast of Pop Tarts before starting his day. “That’s my boy!,” he tells his father, “now you’re cooking!”
Elisabeth Moss appeared in an ad for migraine medicine.
With a straining load of work in intense dramas such as “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Mad Men,” it makes perfect sense that Elisabeth Moss originally appeared for an advertisement for Excedrin, a migraine pain remover. Even in just a simple commercial, it’s honestly amazing the amount of acting range she was able to display.
Mark Ruffalo zapped zits.
Before appearing in “Avengers: Infinity War,” Mark Ruffalo was zapping away zits on his face in this commercial for Clearasil Double Clear. The pads might have been double thick, but I doubt they would stand a chance against Ruffalo as the Hulk.
Charlie Day played a young college grad.
I’m not really sure the leap this commercial takes to be about Cascade Complete dishwasher detergent, but this Charlie Day starring advertisement shows him as a young college graduate, stating that he’s not too fond of joining the workforce. I like to think that it’s the backstory for Day becoming the janitor in his role on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
Amy Adams and Andrew Rannells co-starred in a parody ad.
Appearing in what must be one of the most embarrassing parody ads of all time, “Arrival” and “Sharp Objects” star Amy Adams plays Sandy in a rendition of “Grease” altered to be about Commercial Federal Bank. It might be tough to sit through just the first second, but the 20-second mark also includes a first spot for Andrew Rannells, star of the original cast of “The Book of Mormon.”