More than you may even be aware, commercials are the starting point for countless working actors. The reason is simple: a commercial is a reputable credit actors can put on their résumé, it provides on-set experience, and it can offer legit networking opportunities. It isn’t surprising, then, that many of today’s most successful—and famous—stars got their start shelling products in 30-second clips. From hawking burgers to shampoo to Preparation H, here’s a peak at 20 actors’ pre-fame commercial past.
The former “Batman” and “Gone Girl” star got an early career break with this 1989 Burger King commercial. (Safe to say the fast food joint wasn’t part of his “Dark Knight” regiment, however.)
You probably know Drew Barrymore got her break very young, but she started in commercials even before “E.T.”, Here, she can be seen in a 1979 spot for Pillsbury.
Prior to his days working in “The Office,” Steve Carell was just a peppy employee at a different sort of business, as evidenced by this 1989 Brown’s Chicken commercial.
Before she was a friend on “Friends”—with the best apartment in New York City—Cox was selling Tampax in this 1985 commerical.
Before he was the one who knocks, winning Emmys and Tonys and establishing himself as one of the greatest actors of a generation, well, Bryan Cranston was just the guy for Preparation H commercials in the 1980s.
Long before this Oscar winner was a beloved baseball all-star (“A League of Their Own”) or having the best/worst girls’ weekend with her best friend (“Thelma & Louise”), Geena Davis was the face of local radio station, Wmet.
Even though Leonardo DiCaprio’s journey to fame was an accelerated one, he still did his fair share of commercials before his days of international stardom. For example, here’s little Leo selling Bubble Yum bubble gum in 1989.
Morgan Freeman is basically the closest thing Hollywood has to God—and it should not be shocking that even he once sold Listerine, back in 1979.
Sarah Michelle Gellar
We all know Sarah Michelle Gellar’s past spans vampire-slaying, but do you also know it includes educating consumers on how Burger King is the superior fast food restaurant?
Like many actors, even this soon-to-be Jedi got his start in the industry through commercials. Check him out here in a spot for Kodak.
The former Princess of Genovia was once dreaming a very different dream: that her neighborhood sweetheart didn’t have to move in this 1997 Better Homes and Gardens commercial.
It’s hard to imagine the last decade of film without Jennifer Lawrence. But before the Oscar winner was the it-girl, she was definitely still an it-girl, advertising an upcoming season of the MTV reality show “My Super Sweet 16.”
While his “Friends” character has a sordid commercial past, Matt LeBlanc’s own commercial history is much less embarrassing: a 1988 spot for Cherry 7-UP.
Of course 1990’s coolest chick starred in a minute-long Diet Coke commercial.
Before he won over all of Hollywood (and won an Academy Award), Brad Pitt was already winning hearts, as evidenced by this 1989 Pringles spot.
Before he was the chosen one, Keanu Reeves was already showing off his many talents in this 1986 Corn Flakes commercial. (His dancing skills were an obvious harbinger for the stunt work that would come to define his career.)
Pre-dating her days shocking audiences in “Basic Instinct” and “Casino,” Staron Stone was the perfect advertisement for Finesse Shampoo, with that lush 1980s hair.
Everyone’s favorite age-defying, soon-to-be superhero got some practice saving the world in this early ’90s Super Nintendo commercial!
Just like his ex-wife Demi Moore, Bruce Willis did commercial work before achieving movie stardom. Check him out in this 1987 Seagram’s Coolers commercial.
Looking for remote work? Backstage has got you covered! Click here for auditions you can do from home!