You may recognize their faces, but do you recognize their voices? While appearing (visually) in commercials may be an image-killer for A-list actors, lending their disembodied voices to huge corporations is an easy and low-stress way of keeping busy between films (not to mention, a good way to collect residuals).
Click through our gallery as WalletPop.com reveals just some of the well-known actors that have turned to voice work as a side gig.
The 58-year-old coffee and donuts business built itself on its working class clientele. Who better than John Goodman, who rose to fame playing a Joe the Plumber type on Roseanne, for Dunkin' Donuts customers to identify with, right? The association is a lot smoother than Rachel Ray, who stumps for the company on air in commercials, but has been caught drinking other brands in her off hours.
Unlike other A-listers who take themselves oh-so-seriously, Mr. Clooney doesn't mind poking fun at himself, like he did in a recent Nespresso commercial -- in which he actually appears! But he also promotes products as diverse as AT&T, AquaFina and Budweiser with just his voice.
The Californication star has quietly racked up a number of voice-over credits such as Pedigree dog food and Sprint, all with his gravely vocal inflections. He actually has a great voice for radio and commercials (remember those wonderful X-File episodes where he handled the narration?). Unfortunately, attending rehab for sexual addiction might put an end to his profitable side gig, although Californication got picked up for another season.
The queen of Hollywood doesn't do a lot of extracurricular activities on top of her day jobs ' making one film per year and raising her three children. But in the past, she has acted as a verbal spokesperson for AOL. She reportedly earned seven figures for her spot, far higher than the usual estimated $15,000 to $20,000 she would reportedly net for national commercial spots.
Could you see these two acting opposite one another? Well, if you're in London next month, you'll get your chance. The odd couple is co-starring in a play at the Old Vic. Maybe now Honda will hire them to team up for commercial spot, since each has done voiceover work separately for the company. Who knows it might even help the ailing automobile industry.
This hip-hopper-turned-actress has a down-home, everythings-gonna-be-allright kind of voice and one that's perfect for making you feel comfortable, which is not quite the sexy, sultry vibe she projects when she appears in commercials in person. But that voice-over quality is probably how the folks at Pizza Hut prefer you to feel when you're at one of their locations, ordering multiple pizzas with lots of calorie-laden toppings.
This Oscar-winning actor's voice is so sonorous that he gets a ton of voice over work in films (March of the Penguins, Million-Dollar Baby), so, it's a no-brainer that the 71-year-old actor was hired to handle the vocal chores on a series of high-profile commercials like the Visa ads for this summer's Olympics. Who better than to promote peace and understanding between the nations?
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Vibe: Confident and Reassuring
As one of the top stars in the Hollywood New Wave of the late '60s and early '70s, this 78-year-old, two-time Oscar winner (for 1972's The French Connection and 1992's Unforgiven) mostly promoted mayhem. But these days, he has essentially given up showbiz ' he hasn't made a film in five years ' and keeps busy instead lending his mature voice to denote stability and stature.
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Sometime after his iconic turn in hallucinatory classic Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now! but before he played President Josiah Bartlet on The West Wing, Sheen, 68, father to Charlie and Emilio Est'vez, teamed up with Michael Jackson ' yes, the ex-King of Pop ' for a Pepsi commercial. While the Gloved One sang "Bad" and pranced about, the commercial ends with Sheen's steady voice uttering "Pepsi'the choice of a new generation." Certainly, one of the most bizarre pairings in TV commercial history. See the commercial.
Father and son acting duo Donald and Keifer Sutherland work side gigs doing voiceovers for major products like Volvo and Apple, respectively. The Elder Sutherland's voice is assured and knowing, perfect for a rock-steady car like a Volvo; while the Younger Sutherland's impetuous sounding voice works perfectly for Apple, the Pepsi of computers.
The 53-year-old actor best known for his character roles (the Green Goblin in Spider-Man) or his lead roles in controversial films (The Last Temptation of Christ) lent his uniquely, authoritarian voice to communications company Qwest. Another bit of perfect casting; his is exactly the kind of voice you want to hear on the other end of your phone.
The Iron Man actor is one of Hollywood's busier thespians. Ever the professional, he always brings his A-game to roles, even when playing a tissue-thin super-villain type in a special effects-laden blockbuster like Iron Man. Not content to just act, or publish books of his behind-the-scenes photography, Bridges, 59, lends his laid-back voice to make you want to go out a buy a Hyundai or an Ameriquest Mortgage Company product or a boatload of Duracell batteries.
"Communications. Level 3 Communications." Admit, it. You were thinking it too. The original James Bond's unmistakable Scottish accent is so familiar, it's almost distracting to hear it disembodied in a commercial. The spot he did for the tech company was way back in 2003, but it was memorable for its voice-over talent. Connery could be selling soap or paper products and you'd still feel like James Bond was telling you to buy it.
The great thing about a respected character actor like Elizondo is that he can fit in anywhere, and you feel comfortable with him. So when he chimes in to extol the virtues of Tyco International, Chevron Oil, Mitsubishi products or TD Waterhouse, of course, we listen.
This actor's actor, who is mostly known for his off-kilter characters, has lent his voice to one of the most memorable commercials of recent times: MasterCard's 'Priceless' spots. That's Crudup's steady voice telling us that so and so costs this amount, and so-and-so costs that amount, but at the end of the day it's all 'Priceless.' In 2005, the actor, who has a penchant for the theatre, actually appeared in one of the ads.
Janney's the third former cast member of The West Wing to have a sideline gig as a voiceover artist, attesting to the clout that commercial producers give to the cachet of the show. Her serious-as-nails voice has been used to market heath-care company and Kaiser Permanente and the high-brow AIA (American Institute of Architects).
The voice work for almost every car commercial is handled by some A-list male actor (see previous slides). So it's a welcome relief that German automakers BMW had the foresight to make their spots stand out just a bit more by hiring the amazing Ms. Clarkson, whose honey-sweet, but sophisticated, voice gives viewers yet another reason to aspire to own a BMW one day.
Like his West Wing colleague Martin Sheen, character actor Bradley Whitford's voice has a quality about it that makes the listener think whatever he's saying is something important. Which is why the American Cancer Society must have hired him.
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As far back as his landmark role on Cheers playing Frasier, and the successful sitcom of the same name, the most remarkable quality about Grammar, 53, is his upper-crust-sounding voice, which he has used to hawk everything from Honey Nut Cheerios, Lexus, General Foods International Coffees and Helzberg Diamonds, among others.