Here Are 20 Hollywood Stars Who Started Out In Commercials

Hollywood is one of the most important motion-picture industries in the world. Year after year, dozens of new actors and actresses rise to fame thanks to their brilliant performances in Hollywood’s greatest movies. But let’s not forget that even the most successful Hollywood stars once began their careers by playing menial, secondary roles. And you know what? Before earning millions of dollars for their performances, and before becoming stars of the red carpet and gathering thousands of fans waiting for an autograph, many celebrities began their career by starring in commercials, selling products between your favorite TV shows. Let’s take a look at the 20 Hollywood stars that started their acting careers starring in TV commercials. Don’t miss #13, #7 and #2, they’re one of our favorites!

Photo: Courtesy of HerMoments

#20. Courteney Cox

Way before she was a leading lady on famous TV shows like Friends or Cougar Town, Courteney Cox was just trying to pay her bills like the rest of us. And in fact, she landed on some interesting roles you probably don’t remember. One of her first roles as an actress was in a TV commercial, where she played a young lady getting ready for dance class. Can you guess what product the commercial advertised?

Photo: Courtesy of Backstage

Courteney joined forces with Tampax to promote the power of feeling clean. In this 1985 commercial, she reminds viewers that Tampax “can actually change the way you feel about your period.” Can’t argue with that! By the way, this was the first time in media history that the word period was used. Crazy, right?

#19. Steve Carell

Before playing the role of Michael Scott in the American mockumentary The Office, Steve Carell was doing commercials. In 1989, Brown’s Chicken, a fried chicken company, was looking for the perfect spokesman to tell the world they had switched to a cholesterol-free recipe, and guess what? They called Carell instantly.

Photo: Courtesy of WatchMojo

And as you may have imagined, Carrell played the fool in this TV ad. The commercial displays a sign that reads “cholesterol-free chicken”, but some of the letters keep falling off until it just reads “free chicken”. His comedic chops were clearly present from the very beginning!

#18. Britney Spears

When people saw this girl grinning like a maniac at the prospect of taking a bite of a Maull’s BBQ sauce-laden burger, I’m pretty sure nobody guessed she’d end up becoming one of the most famous pop stars of all time. And sure, when people think of Britney Spears, her acting career may not immediately come to mind.

Photo: Courtesy of Backstage

Before dedicating to music, Spears started off as an actress, and this 1993 commercial was her first role ever. She had her big break the following year after she landed a role in The Mickey Mouse Club alongside Keri Russell, Ryan Gosling, and fellow multi-hyphenate talents Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera.

#17. Paul Rudd

It seems that time doesn’t pass for Paul Rudd, judging by this 1991 Super Nintendo commercial. Back then, the console wars were in full swing and Nintendo decided that what they needed to compete with Sega was a little of the signature Rudd charm. Can you take a look at his baby face!?

Photo: Courtesy of YouTube

Wearing a trench coat over his pink T-shirt and jeans, Rudd walks over to an abandoned drive-in movie theater. There, amid the fog and debris, he plays some classic games like F-Zero, Pilotwings, The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past, and SimCity.

#16. Mila Kunis

You probably remember her by the role of the vapid, self-obsessed Jackie Burkhart on That 70’s Show, or maybe you know her for her hilarious voiceover work of Meg Griffin in Family Guy. Without a doubt, Mila Kunis is one of the most talented and beautiful actresses of this last decade.

Photo: Courtesy of Reddit

But two years before her debut in That 70s Show, and at the age of 12, she landed her first role in one of Lisa Frank’s commercials. There she is, sitting on a large candy-colored bed, wearing a bucket hat, and telling the world how much she loves stickers.

#15. Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the most talented actors in Hollywood history. He has been nominated for six Academy Awards, four British Academy Film Awards and nine Screen Actors Guild Awards, winning one of each. He has also won three Golden Globe Awards. But do any of you know what his first role was?

Photo: Courtesy of HerMoments

As we’ve said, most people start off with menial jobs, and in the case of DiCaprio, his acting debut was in a Honda commercial. Honda sure hired DiCaprio in the right time… back then, they only paid him several hundreds of dollars, but can you imagine how much it would cost the company to hire him today? Let’s not forget that he has a $245-million fortune!

#14. Tina Fey

Tina Fey is a famous actress known for her hilarious sense of humor. She is mostly known for her roles on SNL and 30 Rock, and every now and then she appears in American Express commercials. But did you know that her first role ever was also in a TV commercial?

Photo: Courtesy of HerMoments

True to her style, Fey made jokes in her commercial debut. We must give her some credit, cause making people laugh on a bank commercial doesn’t sound too easy! She rattled off and joked about all the different ways in which her bank teller greets her, and then she promoted the bank’s “high” interest rates. The ad is eerily reminiscent of her 30 Rock character, Liz Lemon

#13. Bryan Cranston

Most people hear the name Bryan Cranston and instantly think of Albuquerque’s most feared drug kingpin, Walter White. But little do people know that Cranston’s first role was in an odd commercial about a Preparation H hemorrhoid treatment. I know, none of you saw that coming!

Photo: Courtesy of HerMoments

His secret past came to light after a YouTube user posted this commercial, and in a matter of days, it went viral. Of course, even the best of actors need that first job and he isn’t the only who has taken on strange roles in the early days of his career. Talking about strange, check out the next slide!

#12. Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert is a very famous and talented actor, writer, comedian, and producer, and you probably know him for his satirical TV comedy The Colbert Report. But way before reaching fame with his own show, and just like Tina Fey, he started his career by starring in a bank commercial.

Photo: Courtesy of HerMoments

To be more specific, he acted in an ad of the new defunct FirsTier Bank. Apparently, he enjoys appearing in commercials as a gig, since he recently starred in one about pistachios. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: that’s random!

#11. Elisabeth Moss

You probably know Elisabeth Moss for her tough-as-nails attitude at the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce company on Mad Men but you should know she wasn’t always Peggy Olson. When she was 20, she did an Excedrin commercial that aired for years.

Photo: Courtesy of HerMoments

Moss once said in an interview that ad-woman Peggy would approve of the commercial.  “If you have migraines, you know pain. These things are for real,” she says in an oddly sultry voice. You must google it right now!

#10. Rob McElhenney

Do you remember that time when Rob McElhenney acted in an anti-smoking Public Service Announcement fin the 90s? If you haven’t seen it, google it, cause it’s kind of hilarious! McElhenney played a cool teenager with style, who almost couldn’t be bothered talking to the camera.

Photo: Courtesy of Imgur

Well, that kid grew up to be Mac from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. And ever he landed that role, Rob has been surprised the world with his talents as an actor, director, producer, and screenwriter. In fact, apart from playing the role of Mac, he has also worked as a creator, developer, and executive producer in the same show.

#9. Jason Bateman

Jason Bateman is a very talented Hollywood actor. Did you know he began acting on television in the early 1980s on Little House on the Prairie, Silver Spoons, and The Hogan Family? But not only that; he’s also the little boy smiling next to that cereal box!

Photo: Courtesy of YouTube

At the age of 11, Jason made his acting debut in this Golden Grahams commercial, attaching his cheerful boyhood smile to the brand. I doubt you’ll recognize him since he was just a child when this ad was aired on TV. Back then, little did people know that this ad would pave the way for greater things…

#8. Jennifer Lawrence

Lawrence’s work so far has led her to be defined by Rolling Stone as “the most talented youth actress in the United States.” In April 2013, Time magazine included her on the list of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.” Repeatedly, she has been mentioned by Forbes magazine as one of the celebrities with the highest annual income. However, long before she landed on such successful dramatic roles, the 28-year-old actress began her career by playing a rich and pampered girl in the famous MTV show, My Super Sweet 16.

Photo: Courtesy of YouTube

In her acting debut, Jennifer played the role of a spoilt teenager celebrating her 16th birthday. However, Lawrence explained that she never really worked for the show, but only acted in one of its commercials.

“No, I wasn’t on the show, because we weren’t rich and my parents aren’t awful. No offense! My first job was for My Super Sweet 16, so I was acting like one of the Sweet 16 girls, but I was not”, Lawrence said in an interview.

#7. Elijah Wood

Elijah Wood reached international fame in the acting world at a super young age. In fact, he starred in the Lord of the Rings franchise at the age of 20. But although the blockbuster trilogy took him to the top, Wood had already achieved success as a child after starring in family films like Flipper and critically acclaimed dramas like Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm.

Photo: Courtesy of YouTube

However, his first acting jobs were actually in commercials, and I’m pretty sure that his frequent presence in TV ads helped the young actor catch the industry’s eye. His first acting role ever was in this National Dairy Board ad, where he plays the role of a young boy who hates veggies but gains some courage and tries some cheddar-topped broccoli.

#6. Brad Pitt

BRAD PITT! BRAD PITT! Now that I have your attention, I want to ask you a question: do any of you know what this famous actor’s first job was? I’m pretty sure many of you believe his acting debut was in the 90s classic Thelma & Louis, where he played the role of a highway cowboy that seduced the character of Geena Davis.

Photo: Courtesy of YouTube

However, even before his brief appearance in that road movie, he starred in a Pringles commercial on TV. Released in 1989, this ad shows Pitt in a car with some friends, when suddenly the vehicle breaks down and all the Pringles magically escape. But unexpectedly, a car full of girls come to the rescue and help the boys find back their crispy canned chips.

#5. Wesley Snipes

Few actors choose to work exclusively in TV commercials, but this was certainly the case with Wesley Snipes during the first years of his career. After his TV commercial phase, Snipes reached the peak of his popularity in the 1990s when he starred in several blockbuster films such as Blade or Drop Zone. But let’s talk a bit about his early commercials.

Photo: Courtesy of HerMoments

Snipe’s first acting jobs included commercials for Levi’s jeans and Coca-Cola, before getting his first real break in the Broadway debut of the Vietnam drama The Boys of Winter. In 2016, this action film icon went out to his roots, when he starred in a Samsung S7 commercial, where you can see him wearing a pair of donned VR Goggles.

#4. John Travolta

When we hear the name John Travolta, I’m pretty sure that the first thing that comes to most of our minds is his brilliant dance moves in the iconic musicals Saturday Night Fever and Grease. But way before landing those roles, Travolta proved his acting talents to the world in a 1973 TV ad.

Photo: Courtesy of HerMoments

So his first acting job was actually in a Band-Aide commercial, where he plays the role of a teenager who places the brand’s adhesive bandage over a cut while in a locker room with his teammates, while all of them sing “I am stuck on Band-Aid / ‘Cause Band-Aid’s stuck on me”. Just recently, in 2013, he chose to relive old times and star in another commercial, this time for the Ypióca cachaça.

#3. Matt LeBlanc

Finally, our top three picks! In the late 1980s, Matt Le Blanc catapulted to fame after appearing in several television ads, including several well-known spots. As he said in an interview, with just one ketchup commercial he was able to buy a house, a car, a motorcycle, and a wardrobe full of clothes. He received a Golden Lion at the Cannes Film Festival for that same ad too. How can all this be true?

Photo: Courtesy of YouTube

In this Heinz ketchup spot, a bunch of ketchup falls from the top of a building, but magically lands on LeBlanc’s hot dog, covering it in the sauce. It seems that the goofy character that the actor played in all of his first commercials was just what the Friends producers were looking for!

#2. Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves is one of those actors that everybody talks about. But years before Matrix, Point Break, Max Speed, ​​and John Wick, the Canadian actor played the role of a cyclist for a Coca-Cola advertisement. The commercial shows a teenage Reeves losing a race but being comforted by his coach (who was his real-life father) with a bottle of soda. Fun fact: he even had to shave his legs for the commercial to be more convincing.

Photo: Courtesy of HerMoments

This Coca-Cola commercial was one of his very first acting roles, but he actually starred in several others. He considers that his first steps in the acting world have been a great learning experience for him.

“For me it was a great experience because you’re going from school and from study, to the real world (…) So it was like hitting marks, we had to improve some scenes, we had to pretend it was hot and we were filming in the winter. You know, so it was real-world, working experience”, Keaves said in The Late Late Show.

#1. Mark Ruffalo

Mark Ruffalo has a long and impressive acting career, and he spent 12 years struggling in the industry before he landed his first big role in the 2000 indie film You Can Count on Me. But believe it or not, Ruffalo’s first paying gig was a Clearasil commercial from 1989.

Photo: Courtesy of HerMoments

This funny clip shows a young Ruffalo running down a hall trying to get rid of his acne. You know why he has perfect skin, right? Because he was 22! And you can’t miss what Ruffalo confessed about his first acting experience, you’ll laugh your brains off!

“After I was hired, the director was like, ‘I really liked what you did because you just seem like you came right off the street—like, you don’t know how to act at all.’”, Ruffalo recalled.

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