Celebrities who were in commercials before they made it big

The small TV ad actor with major Hollywood superstar pipeline.

Everyone has to start somewhere to achieve their goals, and celebrities are no exception. It might seem like actors are becoming Hollywood sensations overnight, but these 19 just prove that everyone starts small before they go big.

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Before getting her own show on the Disney Channel, Zendaya started her modeling career for companies like 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 featuring fellow Disney star Selena Gomez.

Following this publicity, we saw Zendaya land her first role in Disney Channel shake it as Rocky Blue from 2010 to 2013. Currently she stars in HBO’s Euphoria and won her first Emmy Award for her role as Rue Bennett.

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Before being a big Hollywood star, Drew Barrymore started the industry by starring in commercials. At just 11 months old, Barrymore was featured in a dog food commercial, and she continued to make them for other brands like PillsburyMcDonald’s, and more.

Gaines-Burgers/dVour Brands Corporation

In 1982, Barrymore landed the role of Gertie in AND the extra-terrestrial making her one of the most famous child stars in the industry at the time.

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In 1993, Mila Kunis landed her first auditions and starred in Barbie and Lisa Frank advertising.

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

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


Before Paul Rudd started acting in major Hollywood movies, he starred in a 1991 advertisement for the Super Nintendo.

After the 1991 commercial, Rudd starred in the TV show sistersthen in 1995, he landed his first film role playing Josh in the popular teen comedy, clueless.

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Before Steve Carell became a well-known Hollywood actor, he worked for the USPS as a postman. It wasn’t until 1989 that he starred in a commercial for Brown chicken.

Soon after, Carell landed some of his most notable roles, such as Gary on the comedy sketch The ambiguous homosexual duo it was sure The Dana Carvey/Saturday Night Live Show (1996-2011), and Michael Scott on Office (2005-2011).

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Affleck’s first starring role was in dazed glory (1995), followed by more commercially successful roles, including Goodwill hunting (1997), Armageddon (1998), daredevil (2003), and many others.

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

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

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After modeling for companies like Abercrombie & Fitch, Channing Tatum began his television career starring in Pepsi and Mountain Dew advertisements in 2002.

Tatum’s *revolutionary role in Intensify (2006) was the one that put him on the map and took him from TV commercials to multi-million dollar roles.

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*Tatum was in other projects before Intensify, including She is the man with Amanda Bynes, but Intensify was the one who propelled him to stardom.


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

It wasn’t much later that Reynolds started landing the roles we know and love him for, including Two guys, a girl and a pizzeria (1998), Proposal (2009), dead Pool (2016), and many others.

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

Heinz Company/HJ Heinz

A few years after his debut in a television commercial and a few television and music video roles, LeBlanc landed the role of Joey Tribbiani in Friends – which he starred for 12 years, including the two years of the series spin-off Joey.

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Before getting her big break, Amanda Bynes began 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 in Nickelodeon’s All that (1996-2000). Thereafter, she continued to act in major roles, including Huge liar (2002)Amanda’s Show (1999-2002)What I like about you (2002)She is the man (2006), and much more.

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Before being our favorite vampire slayer, Sarah Michelle Gellar began her career playing in more minor television roles and advertising.

Burger King

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

In 2004, Gellar noted about the ad, “Forbidden 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 lots of apple pies.”

After 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).

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Before Tobey Maguire became the Hollywood star he is today, he was featured in various television commercials including a commercial for the AtariLynx in 1990.

Subsequently, Maguire had a few starring 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.

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At 14, Anne Hathaway got her first screen job in Better Homes and Gardens commercial.

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In 2018, Hathaway spoke on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and noted“It was my first time in front of a camera, and I didn’t understand why they weren’t telling you ‘Okay, we’re shooting now'”, she declared. “You just assume you do, so I didn’t know we were actually advertising until three hours into the shoot.”

At 18, Hathaway lands the role of Mia Thermopolis in Disney’s The Diary of a Princess, which marked the beginning of his becoming one of the biggest names in the movie industry.

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Before getting her big break, Madison Pettis first entered Hollywood via TV commercials for products like the popular toy, FurReal Friends, and modeling.

In 2006, Pettis landed his first major role in the Disney film, The game plan.

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Before being a great Hollywood actress, Kirsten Dunst began her career playing in several TV commercialsincluding Baby Uh Oh dolls.

This was just the start of a very successful career for her as since then she has 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 just earned her first Oscar nomination for her role in Netflix The power of the dog.


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

The Coca-Cola Company

Speaking of how she spoke so many languages, Graham noted how she learned Spanish “so I could do interviews in Spanish for Fanta when I was campaigning for the soft drink.”

Subsequently, Graham appeared in several television shows such as Lizzie McGuire, The parent trapand Hannah Montana. In 2009, she landed one of her most notable roles as Bonnie Bennett in The Vampire Diaries.

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Early in his career, Keanu Reeves starred in Coca Cola advertisements 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 began his long career in Hollywood by starring in Pringles commercials in 1988.

In 1991, Pitt began to gain recognition with his role in Thelma and Louise (1991). Since then, he has starred in several commercially successful films, including Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Troy (2004), Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005), and many others.

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