Before They Were Famous – Actors’ Embarrassing Ad Work

You’ve got to feel for actors. We see the smug, Bentley-owning, tiny useless dog-holding prima donnas plastered across the covers of all those glossy magazines that advertise celebrity as a way of life to thick people, and think they’ve got it easy. Because they have.

Peter Venkman

But before the success, before all the money and the for-some-reason-not-illegal paparazzi stalkage, they were struggling actors who, like the rest of us who have consumed cold beans straight from the tin or smoked something we’ve found outdoors, struggled to make ends meet. They’d take whatever work they could get, and a lot of this work came from commercials. Wonderful, terrible, degrading commercials.


Because poking fun at people much better looking and successful than ourselves is a valid and useful defence mechanism, here are a few ads that some of today’s stars would rather forget.

Evangeline Lilly – Mucky Chatline

While actors like Jackie Chan and Sylvester Stallone found early work in pornography (we’re not including links to these videos in this list because we presume you’re not a massive fan of swallowing your own sick), Evangeline Lilly earned a crust in her early years by being the face of one of those late-night wanky smut lines. You know the ones – the face on the advert looks like Evangeline Lilly but the woman on the other end of the phone has probably got a grille like a knackered pasty and more fingers than teeth.

‘It only take five minutes’ she says. With you on the ads Evangeline, it probably wouldn’t even take that long.

Brad Pitt – Pringles

The colour! The quick cuts! The wacky camera angles! Yes, the excitement contained within this ad could be yours for the princely sum of the price of a tube of heavily seasoned hydrogenated oils and trans fats. Who gives a fuck about life expectancy – LOOK HOW MUCH FUN THEY’RE HAVING!

Brad’s probably not entirely proud of some of the gormless gurning he was made to do in this ad, but he probably takes solace in the fact he still looks exactly the same now as he did then. The dick.

Paul Rudd – Super Nintendo

Proving once and for all the striking similarity between a gaming face and a sexing face, Paul Rudd shows us just how much he loves the cutting edge graphical capabilities of the Super Nintendo. Yes, Paul, F-Zero is awesome, but it’s not THAT awesome.

We suspect there’s some kind of debauched skullduggery at work here. Notice, if you will (and for added effect imagine we’re using a pointy stick to illustrate this point, in court), he’s sporting the classic flasher’s mac – presumably, when he wins a race, the defendant immediately de-kegs, places his immaculately-folded pants neatly and deliberately next to his SNES, and gallops off into the smoke to ‘do the helicopter’ and say ‘wuurrghhh’ to any unfortunate strangers he encounters there. Pervert.

Bruce Willis – Seagram’s Golden Wine Coolers

What’s the collective noun for ‘hick’? A Jimbob of hicks? A chrisjen? An incest? Whatever it is, the only thing worse than the wretched geyser of aural discharge this lynch mob of hicks is guffing into the stratosphere is the zeal with which Willis coughs ‘Seagrams wine cooler’ into his beer bottle, which – let’s face it – may as well just be The Man’s veiny, corporate penis. There, we said it.

You can tell Bruce is really relishing this opportunity to ‘do’ music, too – he’s not that good an actor – and one can only feel for the dog, whose stoic, atavistic sense of loyalty is all that’s keeping it rooted to the porch when all it wants to do is wander forlornly into the house to search for some bleach to drink and a quiet place to die.

Ben Affleck – Burger King

The travesty of Burger King’s refusal to deliver its greasy wares in this country notwithstanding, this ad carried with it the sinister suggestion that anyone using the service ran the risk of receiving a free Priapic quiffo-douche with every purchase. As far as freebies go, this is right up there with a bout of crippling dysentery and a Merrick-like case of horrifically disfiguring facial gigantism.

Keanu Reeves – Cornflakes

It’s hungry work, mincing and pirouetting around tables as you lay them. Much more tiring than, say, NOT mincing and pirouetting around tables as you lay them. Nevertheless, Keanu’s worked up a mighty appetite by refusing to let the conventions of a menial job stand in the way of his quest for fabulousness, and he sneaks the opportunity to chow down on a bowl of orange flaky goodness. Which, any way we look at it, is theft. No warning, no second chances – instant dismissal. Get out.
John Travolta – Safeguard

John Travolta’s street cred has had its fair share of ups and downs over the years, between looking cool as fuck grooving to Buddy Holly and *allegedly* rifling through the components of that masseuse’s junk, but it appears to have recently settled somewhere close to its original level of zero. We can see credibility at its second ever lowest ebb here, as John cavorts with his soapy chums while warbling a jingle so horrific it could refract light, while all three men wear the fixed, showtime expressions of people whose necks you wouldn’t tire of standing on until you heard your heel tap on the tiles.