Commercials, once just the reserve of our radios, billboards and TVs, have now extended on to our phones and desktops, podcasts and streaming videos… Daily, we are exposed to literally hundreds of adverts and the models and actors in them. But do we ever know their names? Most likely not. When it comes to making it big as an actor in Hollywood, hopefuls quickly learn that it’s a very tough business to break into – and adverts are rarely a ‘big break’. When an actor is first starting out, the first thing they’re likely to do is get an agent so they can get in on as many big auditions as possible. In the meantime, until the fame and fortune starts paying the bills these aspiring actors are usually working day and night jobs while taking classes and making contacts.
While making it on a television show or starring in a film may be the ultimate goal, many actors pay the bills by booking commercials. In fact, many celebrities that we know today like Seth Green, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Leonardo DiCaprio, and more got their start by starring in commercials and getting the exposure that they needed to make it big.
Of course, there are always celebrities and athletes making appearances in commercials, contributing their talents – or just their names and faces – to a product. Take Isaiah Mustafa for example, the former professional football player became the face of Old Spice by portraying “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” in a commercial that went viral. “24” and “The Unit” actor Dennis Haysbert has become a spokesperson for Allstate and his iconic, “Allstate: Are you in good hands?” rings in the ears of viewers all over North America.
On the noteably less lucrative flipside, though, there have been several actors who have become celebrities because of their work in commercials. From the instant fame gained by their work in an iconic advertising campaign, some actors have been able to make a good living that rivals some mainstream celebrity lifestyles. Here, we’ve brought you the lowdown on five of those rare specimens; the richest actors who make a living doing commercials. Of course, with exposure and fame from their work, the doors have been opened for other possibilities and opportunities. You may know these five characters better by their character names, but let us introduce you to the people behind the brands.
5. Stephanie Courtney aka “Flo” – $1 Million
When Stephanie Courtney first arrived in Los Angeles, she was there to make it big as a stand-up comedian. She became a member of the group The Groundlings (and is still a senior member today), and was auditioning for commercials around town, but was finding very little success. In fact, she was only booking about one commercial a year. But she was shot into the advertising industry limelight in 2008 when Progressive Insurance decided to cast her as “Flo”, with the angle that car insurance can be a pleasant shopping experience if there’s a good sales girl on hand. Flo’s fan page has over 3 million likes on Facebook and there are still new commercials coming out every year featuring Flo in different situations and scenarios which lands Courtney a comfortable salary of $500K per year.
4. Diane Amos aka “The Pine-Sol Lady” – $2.5 Million
3. Carly Foulkes aka “The T-Mobile Girl” – $3 Million
2. Dean Winters aka “Mayhem” – $4 Million
1. Jonathan Goldsmith aka “The Most Interesting Man in the World” – $8 Million
Peter Marcarelli – $10 Million
“Can you hear me now?” has become synonymous with the Verizon brand thanks to Peter Marcarelli, who was cast as the “Test Man” in 2001 and enjoyed a 9 year long career making a living primarily from these commercials. Before Marcarelli landed the role, he was sharing an apartment with his boyfriend and a friend, and was a struggling actor. One moment, he’s playing to audiences of 100, and the next moment he’s performing during the Super Bowl halftime show to 85,000 people plus those watching television. With a paycheck totaling to $10 million, Marcarelli did pretty well for himself before Verizon closed the curtain on the “Test Man” in 2011.
Jared Fogle – $15 Million
Okay, maybe Jared Fogle isn’t technically an actor, but he definitely makes his living from doing Subway commercials with a wealth of $15 million. Fogle rose to fame in 1999-2000 when it was discovered that he lost 245 pounds in a year from eating Subway sandwiches. Subway executives first found Fogle from a local college newspaper write up on his weight loss success and things have been uphill for Fogle since. He face and name now go hand in hand with the Subway brand, and with less than 6 grams of fat on numerous Subway sandwiches, millions have reach the same weight loss success as Jared.