Celebs That Were In Commercials Before Making It Big

The small TV ad actor to major Hollywood superstar pipeline.

Everyone has to start somewhere to achieve their goals, and celebs are no exception. It may seem like actors become Hollywood sensations overnight, but these 19 just prove that everyone starts small before making it big.

Aspire/Young Money/Cash Money/Republic / Via giphy.com


Before getting her own Disney Channel show, Zendaya started her career modeling for companies such as Macy’s and Old Navy. She was first seen on television when she was featured in commercials for iCarly toys.

Playmates Toys

Zendaya also starred in a Sears commercial as a backup dancer that featured another Disney star, Selena Gomez.  

Following this commercial, we saw Zendaya land her first role in Disney Channel’s Shake It Up as Rocky Blue from 2010 to 2013. Currently, she’s starring in HBO’s Euphoria and won her first Emmy Award for her role as Rue Bennett.

Craig Sjodin / Disney Channel via Getty Images/ HBO


Before she was a huge Hollywood star, Drew Barrymore started the industry by starring in commercials. At just 11 months, Barrymore was featured in a dog-food commercial, and she’s continued to do some for other brands like Pillsbury, McDonald’s, and more.

Gaines-Burgers/dVour Brands Corporation

In 1982, Barrymore landed the role of Gertie in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial making her one of the most famous child stars in the industry at the time.

Sunset Boulevard / Corbis via Getty Images


In 1993, Mila Kunis landed her first auditions and was featured in Barbie and Lisa Frank commercials.

Following her time starring in toy commercials, Kunis had a few minor and supporting roles in TV shows and movies, but it wasn’t until 1998 when she landed her most-known role as Jackie Burkhart in That ’70s Show.

20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection/Fox / Getty Images

When she auditioned for the role, Kunis needed to be 18 years old but was only 14. The producers eventually found out about her age but still cast her because they thought she was perfect for the role. 


Before Paul Rudd started starring in huge Hollywood films, he was featured in a 1991 commercial for the Super Nintendo.

Following the 1991 commercial, Rudd starred in the TV show Sisters, then in 1995, he landed his first film role playing Josh in the popular teen comedy, Clueless.

Paramount Pictures / CBS / Getty Images/Paramount / courtesy Everett Collection


Before Steve Carell became a well-known Hollywood actor, he worked for USPS as a mail carrier. It wasn’t until 1989 when he starred in a commercial for Brown’s Chicken.

It wasn’t long after that before Carell landed some of his more notable roles, such as Gary on the comedy sketch The Ambiguously Gay Duo that was on The Dana Carvey Show/Saturday Night Live (1996-2011), and Michael Scott on The Office (2005-2011).

ABC / NBC/ Ron Tom / NBC / courtesy everett collection

Affleck’s first leading role was in Glory Daze (1995), followed by more commercial success roles, including Good Will Hunting (1997), Armageddon (1998), Daredevil (2003), and many more.

Miramax/20thcentfox/Courtesy Everett Collection


Before Leonardo DiCaprio became one of the most famous actors in Hollywood, he starred in commercials such as a Bubble Yum bubble gum in the late 1980s.

Shortly after his TV commercial debut, DiCaprio started landing huge roles, including Romeo in Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Jack Dawson in Titanic (1997).

20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection


After modeling for companies like Abercrombie & Fitch, Channing Tatum started his career in TV by starring in Pepsi and Mountain Dew commercials in 2002.

Tatum’s *breakthrough role in Step Up (2006) was the one to put him on the map and transition him from TV commercials to multimillion-dollar roles.

Touchstone Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection

*Tatum was in other projects before Step Up, including She’s The Man with Amanda Bynes, but Step Up was the one that pushed him into stardom. 


Ryan Reynolds starred in Pop Pops commercials in the early 90s before he started acting in the huge roles we know and love of him today.

It wasn’t much later until Reynolds started landing the roles we know and love him for, including Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place (1998), The Proposal (2009), Deadpool (2016), and many more.

20thCentFox/Walt Disney Co/20th Century Fox/ Courtesy Everett Collection


Matt LeBlanc made his very first TV appearance in 1987, starring in a Heinz ketchup commercial.

Heinz/ H.J. Heinz Company

A few years following his TV commercial debut and a few TV and music video roles, LeBlanc landed the role of Joey Tribbiani in Friends — which he played for 12 years, including the two years on the show’s spin-off Joey.

NBC/Courtesy Everett Collection


Before getting her big break, Amanda Bynes started her journey in Hollywood by starring in Buncha Crunch commercials in 1993.

It wasn’t until 1996 that she got her big break when she starred on Nickelodeon’s All That (1996-2000). Following that, she continued to star in major roles, including Big Fat Liar (2002), The Amanda Show (1999-2002), What I Like About You (2002), She’s The Man (2006), and many more.

Universal/Tollin/Robbins/Nickelodeon/ DreamWorks/Courtesy Everett Collection


Before being our favorite vampire slayer, Sarah Michelle Gellar started her career starring in more minor TV roles and commercials.

Burger King

In 1981, Geller was featured in a Burger King commercial that was seen as controversial. Gellar’s character criticized McDonald’s and spoke about only eating at Burger King in the commercial. That led to her being named in a lawsuit that McDonald’s filed against Burger King, and she wasn’t allowed to eat there as a child. 

In 2004, Gellar said about the commercial, “Banned is a strong word…It was tough because, when you’re a little kid, McDonald’s is where all your friends have their birthday parties, so I missed out on a lot of apple pies.”

Following her time starring in commercials, Gellar landed huge roles, including Kendall Hart in All My Children (1993), Daphne Blake in Scooby-Doo (2002), and Buffy Summers in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003).

Ann Limongello/Disney General Entertainment Content / Getty Images/Warner Brothers/20th Century Fox Film Corp. / Courtesy Everett Collection


Before Tobey Maguire was the Hollywood star he is today, he was featured in various TV commercials, including an ad for the Atari Lynx in 1990.

Afterward, Maguire had a few lead roles in movies like Pleasantville (1998) and Wonder Boys (2000), and in 2002, Maguire landed the role we all know and love Spider-Man/Peter Parker.

New Line Cinema/Paramount /Columbia Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection


At age 14, Anne Hathaway got her first on-screen job starring in a Better Homes and Gardens commercial.

BH&G/ Dotdash Meredith

In 2018, Hathaway spoke on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and said, “It was my first time on camera, and I didn’t understand that they don’t tell you ‘Ok, we’re shooting now,'” she stated. “You just assume that you do, so I didn’t know that we were actually making the commercial until three hours into shooting.”

At age 18, Hathaway landed the role of Mia Thermopolis in Disney’s The Princess Diaries, which marked the beginning of her becoming one of the biggest names in the movie industry.

Walt Disney Co. /Courtesy Everett Collection


Before she got her big break, Madison Pettis stepped into Hollywood for the first time via TV commercials for products like the popular toy, FurReal Friends, and modeling.

In 2006, Pettis landed her first big role on the Disney film, The Game Plan.

Buena Vista Pictures / Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection


Before she was a huge Hollywood actress, Kirsten Dunst started her career by starring in several TV commercials, including Baby Uh Oh dolls.

That was only the start of a very successful career for her because since then, she’s starred in huge blockbuster hits like Jumanji (1995), Bring It On (2000), and Spider-Man (2002).

Columbia Pictures/Universal/Mary Evans/Ronald Grant/Columbia Pictures/ Everett Collection

More recently, she’s just scored her first Academy Award nomination for her role in Netflix’s The Power of the Dog


Kat Graham started her career by starring in several TV commercials, including Barbie and Pop-Tarts. At 17, she was a part of Fanta’s promotional campaign as a member of the “Fantanas.”

The Coca-Cola Company

When talking about how she spoke so many languages, Graham mentioned how she learned Spanish “so that I could do interviews in Spanish for Fanta when I was doing the campaign for the soft drink.”

Afterward, Graham appeared in several TV shows such as Lizzie McGuire, The Parent Trap, and Hannah Montana. In 2009, she landed one of her most notable roles as Bonnie Bennett in The Vampire Diaries.

Quantrell D. Colbert / CW / Courtesy: Everett Collection


At the start of his career, Keanu Reeves starred in Coca-Cola commercials in 1983.

Reeves became a household name just 16 years later when he landed the role of Neo for The Matrix series in 1999.

Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection


Finally, Brad Pitt started his long career in Hollywood by starring in Pringles commercials in 1988.

In 1991, Pitt started receiving recognition with his role in Thelma & Louise (1991). Ever since, he’s starred in several commercially successful movies, including Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Troy (2004), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), and many more.

Warner Bros/ 20th Century Fox/ Everett Collection

Source: BuzzFeed – Celebrity

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