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Actors who found fame on TV Adverts

TV adverts have long been a place to find famous faces – we can all name adverts with celebrities from the worlds of acting, sport, politics and beyond. But for those searching for their start, adverts can be a great stepping stone. 

There are lots of now household names who started out appearing in adverts that you might not know about. We’ve rounded up some of the most notable stars who got their break starring in TV adverts before they were famous. 

Ben Affleck, Burger King – 1989

The actor who would go on to be an Oscar-winning director and writer first got his big break in this Burger King advert. 

Ben Affleck stars as a teen who tries to take advantage of a case of mistaken identity to meet a beautiful woman. After picking up his car phone (it was the 80s) to a wrong number call from a young lady trying to reach Burger King, Affleck decides to pick up her order and take it to her, in the hopes of a meet-cute.

Anne Hathaway, Better Homes & Gardens, 1997

This 1997 US estate agent advert was Anne Hathaway’s very first time on camera, before she went on to win awards including an Oscar, BAFTA, Emmy and Golden Globe. 

In the advert, a teenage Hathaway clings to the hope that she and her TV advert boyfriend will at least be able to spend the summer together, since it will take ages to sell his family home. However, their hopes are dashed when they realise the agent is Better Homes & Gardens.

David Tennant, Boots – 2002

Before becoming a firm fan favourite, household name and Doctor Who, David Tennant appeared in the 2002 Boots Christmas advert. 

Tennant sits with his partner, who begins leafing through the Boots catalogue and naming potential gift ideas for their family and friends. As she suspects Tennant’s character isn’t listening, her suggestions get more outlandish – including a flamethrower for a baby. However, it turns out that the future Doctor was listening the whole time, and adding all the items – minus the flamethrower – to his online basket.

Jennifer Lawrence, MTV My Super Sweet 16, 2005

She might be best known for winning Oscars, falling on red carpets and generally being one of the only A-listers in Hollywood to show a bit of personality, but Jennifer Lawrence once got her big break on a promo advert for MTV’s cult hit show My Super Sweet 16. 

The MTV advert sees Lawrence play a spoilt teenager being carried into her sixteenth birthday party on a pedestal, before being unceremoniously dropped. While Lawrence, star of The Hunger Games, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle didn’t actually appear on MTV’s show, she certainly went on to get plenty more screen appearances. 

Mark Hamill, Kodak – 1975

He might be best known for Luke Skywalker, one of the most iconic roles in cinema, but Mark Hamill got his start in a snappy advert for Kodak cameras. 

A teenage Hamill visits his girlfriend’s house to take her photo. Unfazed by her not being able to leave her second floor balcony, Hamill proceeds to show off the revolutionary telephoto lens on the Kodak Tele Instamatic camera.

Drew Barrymore, Pillsbury – 1979

Everyone knows Drew Barrymore got famous young, with a scene-stealing turn in E.T. However, she appeared on screen even before the famous film, in this advert for Pillsbury. 

In the advert, a very cute 4-year-old Barrymore is served a plate of Pillsbury chocolate chip cookies made fresh from the tube, after getting caught in the rain.

Brad Pitt, Pringles, 1979

Brad Pitt is cemented into pop culture history as one of Hollywood’s classic heartthrobs, but this Pringles advert shows that this was always written in the stars. 

The colourful adverts shows Pitt and some friends run into that most awful of fates – they’ve run out of Pringles. The future Oscar-winner uses his charm to convince a passing car of girls to share their stash of Pringles and they go on to party together – after all, once you pop you can’t stop.

Did you recognise all these famous faces? Let us know if we’ve missed anyone else who started their career on an advert.

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