A lot of people like to collect stamps, assemble little wooden ships inside of glass bottles, or put comic books into air tight sleeves that people can never open to read them again. But when it comes to my own hobbies, I like something that is both sometimes challenging and often pointless, which is why I love to watch TV commercials and try to figure out whose voice is telling me to buy that stuff. For at least two years, my friend Amanda and I, as well as plenty of people who have been equally possessed by this silly challenge, have been trying to identify all of the celebrity voices that we hear in every commercial that crosses our eyeballs and ears on TV. We’ve called it the #CelebrityVoiceoverProject.
It’s gotten to the point, with all of the TV that I turn my back to during the afternoon, that my brain is almost trained to instantly recognize famous voices, so that I can raise a fist in the air in triumph while my dog stares at me like I’m an A-hole. Of course, it’s no secret that celebrities love to shill for all sorts of companies, regardless of whether or not they believe in the project, because a paycheck is a paycheck, and those yachts ain’t gonna fill themselves with champagne and models. But a lot of A- and B-listers still try to keep a low profile on their supplementary income by just lending their voices to American TV commercials, because maybe they think that our simple, blue collar brains won’t be able to tell that a certain star of The Godfather once showed up in a Jeep commercial.
Obviously, we know that Neil Patrick Harris is the overly-charming actor trying to talk us into drinking Heineken, while Matthew McConaughey tells us how he has driven a Lincoln long before he was paid to. Even Channing Tatum famously got his start in show business by appearing in a hilariously Hoobastank-packed Mountain Dew commercial. Some of us might see the Smirnoff ads with Alison Brie and Adam Scott and quietly wish we were hanging out with them like a trio of best friends. Also, Mila Kunis makes me want to drink only Jim Beam forever and ever, even though I’m a Michter’s man. Amazing how much a celebrity can influence a simpleton in a key demographic like me.
As for those celebrity voices that creep inside our brains and try to jam our minds with subliminal desires to purchase everything from cars to yogurt, I’ve been compiling this list of celebrity spokespeople for some time now, and with a little help from Twitter friends, iSpot and AdWhoIs.com, I think we may have assembled a truly comprehensive record of the last few years of celebrity voiceovers. In conclusion, I need a real hobby.
Acura – James Spader
It’s kind of like Raymond Reddington is telling me to buy a car, and that scares me because I could be struck by random missiles at any point if I don’t get an Acura.
American Airlines – Jon Hamm
This is Jon Hamm’s first appearance on this list, and even when he’s not being absurdly handsome and charming, he has the kind of voice that makes me forget that flying is awful and planes are filled with terrible, miserable and selfish people.
American Express – Claire Danes
I know this is supposed to be about celebrity voiceovers, but when it comes to Claire Danes, her best commercial will always be the “Boyfriend Trousers” GAP ad with Patrick Wilson. Keep that one in mind for when Wilson finally becomes a breakout star next year.
Applebee’s – Jason Sudeikis
In addition to Sudeikis, who is so freaking charming that just his voice actually makes me think about eating at Applebee’s, that’s obviously also the boss from Workaholics. It’s a big, old celebrity universe and we’re just eating two meals for $20 in it.
Arby’s – Ving Rhames
Two thoughts: 1) No, Mr. Rhames, I am not intimidated by Arby’s meat. 2) Shouldn’t the only Arby’s spokesperson from now til the end of time be Patrick Warburton? How he ended up as a talking can of oil on Napa is beyond me.
Army – Gary Sinise
The only choices for the voice of Army’s commercials were Lt. Dan or Steven Seagal, and the latter chose to promote Russia instead.