21 commercials starring celebrities before they were famous
If you are an up-and-coming actor, show business is a tricky one to get into. Regardless of how talented you are or what drama school you went to, you have to start from the bottom. You have to scrap together whatever you can from roles as an extra in the background of a TV show, or a bit role in a dreadful movie you would avoid like the plague if you could.
But an easy place to go to, especially when you are young with little experience under your belt, is the commercial. The competition is still fierce, but selling cereal or chewing gum requires a lot less skill and professional training to pull off than Shakespeare. That might be why you can find examples of the world's biggest stars appearing in commercials long before they broke through and achieved celebrity status.
1. Elijah Wood
You might just recognise the Lord of the Rings actor appearing here in this early 90's ad. Cheese truly does make all the difference.
2. Aaron Paul
Before he attained stardom on Breaking Bad, he had a number of weird ads, including this Juicy Fruit one from 2000.
3. Kristen Stewart
This 1999 commercial for Porsche starred the actress, before what was her first big role in Panic Room three years later.
4. Leonardo DiCaprio
DiCaprio actually appeared in quite a few different commercials as a child, and even did a few more in his later teens. However, this one for Bubble Yum is definitely the best one.
5. Mila Kunis
In 1996, at the age of 13, the actress starred in this ad for Lisa Frank. I'm betting Kunis' friends and family still make fun of her for this one.
6. Jack Black
Back in the day where video games were a lot less realistic, the commercials were often spiced up with some real actors describing the experience, as you can see here with a circa 1983 Jack Black.
7. Drew Barrymore
Three years before she was the cute little girl in E.T, Barrymore was even more adorable in this chocolate chip cookies commercial.
8. Leighton Meester
Four years before she became a star in Gossip Girl, the actress was in one of those cheesy skincare ads targeted at teens.
9. Seth Green
This 1996 Nerf commercial starring Seth Green is absolutely bonkers. I still can't figure out what's going on with the mime, but it's strangely entertaining all the same.
10. Britney Spears
This BBQ sauce ad features a surprisingly catchy song and an oddly scary-looking smile from the pop-singer-to-be.
11. Ben Affleck
Affleck was asked about this Burger King ad on Good Morning America, where he blamed it for the fast food chain's losses that year.
12. Brad Pitt
People have pointed out how often Pitt is seen eating in his movies, so it's fitting eating Pringles is how he started out.
13. Jennifer Lawrence
From 2005, pretending to be one of the Super Sweet 16 girls for a commercial was Lawrence's first job in the industry
14. Steve Carell
It's hard not to imagine this is Michael Scott acting in this 1989 commercial for Brown's Chicken.
15. Bryan Cranston
Another Breaking Bad actor on this list, Cranston was doing this all the way back in 1987.
16. Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Gordon-Levitt looks so good for his age it's weird to see him working in 1991, but here he is, advertising Pop Tarts.
17. Tobey Maguire
Hearing Tobey Maguire shout "Oh yeah!" over and over again while playing the Atari Lynx is going to be burned into my memory for some time...
18. Keanu Reeves
In 1987, Reeves got the ultimate gig of dancing and eating cereal all day.
19. Matt LeBlanc
Some of Matt LeBlanc's early commercials are even funnier than the gigs Joey would get on Friends.
20. Courtney Cox
Another Friends star on this list, this time two years earlier in 1985. Fun fact: this was the first time the word "period" was said on television.
21. Sarah Michelle Gellar
This ad with Sarah Michelle Gellar as a little girl is absolutely adorable, and she's almost unrecognisable from the woman we say slaying vampires as an adult.
It turns out that when you dig deep, there are a plethora of famous people who tried their hand at commercials at some point in their career. And these videos also serve as a reminder that adverts in the 80s and 90s were absolutely bonkers a lot of the time.
If you want to learn more about the past lives of celebrities like this, you should definitely check out this list of celebrities who had surprising first jobs.