The announcement that Quentin Tarantino recently starred in a Japanese Softbank commercial has been making headlines around the web this week, and I am still not quite sure why people are making such a big deal out of it. It’s no surprise that QT is somewhat well-versed in Japanese culture and no surprise that he enjoys hamming it up for the camera either. More to the point, I don’t think these goofy commercials are quite as detrimental to a celebrity’s reputation as it once was believed.
After YouTube and websites like Japander spread them across the internet for the whole world to see, and Bill Murray poked fun at the practice in Lost in Translation, it’s easy to see why the Hollywood elite shied away for a while. However, lately Japanese commercials seem to be back in vogue, and we are even starting to see domestic ads becoming more acceptable as well. Are these foreign ads really any more embarrassing than the very regular Jamie Lee Curtis and her Activia yogurt commercials? Okay, yes… some of them are. After the jump, check out 15 of the weirdest and most memorable Japanese ads featuring well-known Hollywood actors and actresses!
15. Tommy Lee Jones – Suntory Boss Coffee
Tommy Lee Jones has done a crapload of commercials for Suntory coffee. In this one, he has an awkward encounter with an Akihabara maid!
14. Edward Furlong – Hot Noodle
A young Edward Furlong using his fame to sell Hot Noodle. Sadly, nowadays he’d be lucky to get a gig like this.
13. Lucy Liu – Suntory Diet Beer
You wouldn’t see many celebrities advertising beer here in North America, much less female celebrities. But hey, it’s diet beer, so that’s okay!
12. Ben Stiller – Kirin Beer
Since Ben Stiller is a funny guy, this commercial almost comes off as an ironic comedy sketch where he is in on the joke. Almost.
11. Charlize Theron – Honda
Talking to puppets is never not an embarrassing situation… unless you’re on Sesame Street.
10. Sean Connery – Biogurt
Is that really Sean Connery’s voice?
9. John Travolta – Tokyo Drink
Work it Johnny Boy!
8. Jean-Claude Van Damme – Black Black Gum
Way before JCVD, Van Damme showed his true acting range in this Japanese commercial for gum.
7. Leonardo DiCaprio – Honda Civic
I guess we can forgive Leonardo DiCaprio for making some weird commercials when he was still young and impressionable. Except… he’s still doing Japanese commercials today!
6. Bruce Willis – Eneos Card
Bruce Willis sleeps with some sort of weird energy gun under his pillow.
5. Dennis Hopper – Tsumara Medical Company
It’s simply a sad sight to see Dennis Hopper in a bathtub with a rubber duckie.
4. Cindy Crawford – Pocari Sweat
It might be a stretch to call Cindy Crawford a Hollywood actress, but this commercial was too good to pass up. (Pocari Sweat is a Gatorade-esque drink in Japan.)
3. Brad Pitt – Edwin Jeans
Brad Pitt also recently starred in a couple of Japanese commercials directed by Spike Jonze. But this could be one of the weirdest commercials I’ve ever seen.
2. Nicolas Cage – Pachinko Fever
We all know that Nic Cage has no shame, but the series of pachinko commercials he did in Japan are about as wacky as they get.
1. Arnold Schwarzenegger – Alinamin V Energy Drink
Was there ever any doubt? These are probably some of the most well-known Japanese commercials out there, and the sight of Arnold laughing maniacally can never be erased from your mind.