While claims that celebrities are “just like us” may seem disingenuous, there’s one thing we all have in common: bills that need paying. But when there aren’t a ton of great film or TV projects in the pipeline for certain stars, they turn to another source of easy income: overseas commercials. The result? A lot of stars selling products you’d never catch them hawking back at home. Herewith, we’ve rounded up 30 celebrities with surprising overseas endorsement deals, each a little bit more shocking than the last. And if you want to see the products your favorite celeb shills for stateside, check out these 30 Hilariously Bad Celebrity Products.
Mariah Carey — Hostelworld
Hostels have a reputation for being grungy, so Hostelworld decided to combat this commonly held perception by enlisting arguably the greatest diva of our time in their commercial: Mariah Carey. In the commercial, a booking error has Carey staying at a hostel for a night and having a pretty good time—and if Mimi will sleep there, it can’t be that bad. And for proof of just how picky Carey can be, check out her contribution to the 30 Most Hilarious Celebrity Riders.
Katy Perry — Laundrin
In this commercial for Japanese laundry detergent Laundrin, Katy Perry comes home from a presumably hectic public appearance, and slips into a freshly laundered bathrobe to cook pancakes. And make no mistake—she’s having an amazing time doing it.
Lady Gaga – F1 Rocks
When Lady Gaga was fashioning herself as the pinnacle of club music and partying, she agreed to do this bizarre commercial for F1 Rocks, a concert in Singapore that accompanied the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix. Her deadpan performance was probably not what they were hoping for, but it’s definitely what they got in spades.
Elijah Wood — Toyota
It’s not immediately obvious what purpose Elijah Wood is serving in this commercial for Toyota, in which he pulls over and is nice to a cartoon bunny. However, while the commercial’s intent is unclear, one thing is certain: he definitely earned a pretty sweet payday out of it. And for more surprises from your favorite celebs, check out these 50 Crazy Celebrity Facts You Won’t Believe Are True.
Brad Pitt — SoftBank
Brad Pitt did a number of commercials for Japanese company SoftBank, where the joke was usually Pitt playing some sort of low-status character. This one’s no different, but direction from Wes Anderson makes it especially enjoyable to watch, thanks to its fast-paced physical comedy. And for more laughs, check out the 30 Funniest Commercials of the Last 30 Years.
Snoop Dogg — Vybemobile
Snoop Dogg pops out of a refrigerator and starts singing in this commercial for German company Vybemobile. The tux, hair, and vibe of the music all make Snoop a comical choice for the part.
Leonardo DiCaprio — OPPO Mobile
Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t hold back in this series of commercials for Chinese company OPPO Mobile. The commercials serialize a short film about a mysterious woman, and DiCaprio gives it his all, despite this being one of his few acting roles that’s definitely never going to be an Oscar contender.
Scarlett Johansson — Lux Shampoo
Scarlett Johansson literally phones it in on this Japanese commercial for Lux shampoo. Though Johansson has been in other commercials for Lux, in this one she merely gives a brief inspiring speech and appears as a still image on the phone of the cartoon personification of a popular software voicebank.
David Duchovny — Siberian Crown
David Duchovny sparked controversy by appearing in this ad for Siberian Crown beer. In the commercial, he imagines what life would have been like if he had been born in Russia instead of America, which prompted people to accuse him of being pro-Putin. And for another fun fact about Duchovny, check out these 20 Celebrities Who Graduated From Ivy League Schools.
Hugh Jackman — Lipton Iced Tea
Hugh Jackman has done Lipton Iced Tea commercials all over the world. This one is from Japan, and has the actor quite literally for his dollar in a Spike Jonze-esque sequence.
Johnny Depp — Asahi
Johnny Depp plays a mean guitar in this commercial for Asahi beer. A helicopter swoops overhead; there’s a falcon for some reason, and then he and Japanese musician Fukuyama Masaharu end their friendly guitar battle and crack open a couple of cold ones — Asahi Super Dry, to be specific.
George Clooney — Kirin
George Clooney has done so many foreign endorsement deals that his film career probably seems like a hobby to him. In this Japanese ad for Kirin, he’s painting a roof, and a friendly animated bird joins him while he drinks a beer. The bird flies away, and Clooney speaks the tiniest amount of Japanese to really earn the paycheck.
Uma Thurman — Schweppes
Uma Thurman really delivers in this French commercial for Schweppes. Thurman plays a very sexy version of herself in an interview and describes all the various ways she enjoys Schweppes. In case you don’t get the joke, it’s spelled out for you at the end.
Julia Roberts — Lavazza
Julia Roberts is cast as a model for Venus in this Italian commercial for Lavazza coffee. In it, a cup of Lavazza makes her smile so a painter can finish his painting, a moment that makes casting Roberts make a lot of sense.
Richard Gere — Orangina
In a series of Japanese ads for Orangina, Richard Gere plays a Frenchman who has recently returned home. In this particular commercial, Gere thinks he’s the subject of a waitress’s flirtations, only to find that he’s actually much too old for that to be the case.
Bruce Willis — Eneos
Bruce Willis was a spokesman of sorts for Japan-based Eneos Service Stations for a while in the late ’90s, although his only spoken line in this particular commercial is the phrase “move you.” It’s hard to say exactly what happens in this commercial, but it appears Willis is driving around and turning normal gas stations into Eneos gas stations, thanks to a magical pump he keeps in the trunk of his car.
Ben Stiller — Kirin Fruit Beer
This commercial for Kirin Fruit Beer starring Ben Stiller looks like a deleted scene from Zoolander and features Stiller getting frozen in a block of ice after opening a beer, only to be tackled by a bunch of football players.
Jennifer Aniston — Heineken
Jennifer Aniston might be known stateside for repping wholesome products like Smartwater and Aveeno, but outside the US, she played the butt of the joke in a Heineken commercial, in which a man chooses to keep two beers for himself than even stand a chance at impressing the Friends star.
Madonna — Takara
Madonna did a number of commercials, mostly of her dancing around, in Japan during the 1980s, when her career was just kicking off. In this commercial from the ’90s for Takara sake, she takes things to another level with an original song and a sword-fighting sequence.
Britney Spears — Mikakuto Gummy Candy
This commercial will transport you back to a time before Britney Spears went “Toxic.” In this commercial for Mikakuto Gummy Candy, Britney dances around an exceedingly cute private jet and eats candy while laughing and smiling, something it’s hard to imagine present-day Brit-Brit engaging in.
Keanu Reeves — Suntory Reserve
This commercial for Suntory Reserve whiskey has Keanu Reeves doing … something. He’s a composer whose power goes out, and he finds a cat who turns into a woman, then back into a cat in his home. Trying to figure it out is enough to make you want a drink, so maybe that means it’s working?
Sylvester Stallone — Knorr
This commercial features Sylvester Stallone directing a scene of a flying boy kissing a little girl. Suddenly, there’s a large pot of Knorr soup. Speaking Japanese might make it make more sense, but it’s doubtful.
Chuck Norris — T-Mobile
Chuck Norris did a series of spots in the Czech Republic for T-Mobile. In most of them, his reputation as a tough guy is the joke, as Norris is repeatedly embarrassed or proven to be some kind of wuss.
Hugh Laurie — Schweppes
Schweppes turned to funnyman Hugh Laurie for this ad that tries to convince people they should be drinking tonic water at all hours of the day. It’s a pretty hard sell, but he does his best.
Daniel Day-Lewis — Kanebo
It’s hard to imagine Oscar-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis doing a commercial, and yet, here he is, hand in a stream, reflecting on the quality of ingredients in a beverage.
Jodie Foster — Keri
This Japanese cosmetics commercial was easy money for Jodie Foster, who basically had to laze about in a chair for 30 seconds and say a single word.
Dennis Hopper — Tsumura
Dennis Hopper was an outsider and an artist, but he also was apparently a short-term spokesman for Tsumura, and even climbed into a bathtub with some rubber duckies to peddle their wares in this commercial. To be fair, he had no way of knowing it was going to wind up on the internet.
Harrison Ford — Kirin
Over the years, Harrison Ford has done a number of commercials in Japan, many of them for Kirin beer. In this one, Ford actually speaks a fair amount of Japanese. In doing so, he realizes that just thinking of a cold, refreshing Kirin is too much for him to stand, so he has to leave the sauna he’s steaming in to find one to beat his thirst.
Arnold Schwarzenegger — Aliniman V
Arnold Schwarzenegger really goes all in for this ad for Aliniman V, a Japanese energy drink. If the amount of energy you get from one of these things matches the amount of energy he’s putting out in the commercial, the stuff definitely works.
Tommy Lee Jones — Suntory Boss Coffee
Tommy Lee Jones plays an alien/teacher in this commercial for Suntory Boss Coffee, which has him using special powers in the workplace to discipline his students. After a long day of terrorizing kids with your laser eyes, you’d probably like a nice can of Suntory Boss Coffee, too. And if you want even more laughs from your favorite stars, check out the 30 Funniest Celebrity Commercials.
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