They star in some of the biggest and most memorable advertising campaigns currently on TV. While they may not be household names, these commercial standouts have transcended faceless-thespian status to reach the ”Hey, I know you!” level of fame all working actors dream of. So before you hit that fast-forward button, read on to meet a variety of familiar faces who make the 30-second spot worth your time.
You know her as…
Flo, Progressive Insurance’s giddy saleswoman
Age 40 Where else you’ve seen her Roles in Mad Men, The Heartbreak Kid, and — interestingly enough — Cavemen, the short-lived ABC sitcom inspired by Geico’s advertising campaign.
Lip service The actress had trouble booking commercials prior to landing Progressive. ”I have that sarcasm disease,” she says. ”I had an audition for Sylvan Learning Center, and all I had to do was say ‘Your son’s doing great.’ And every time I said it, they said, ‘Can you stop saying it like you’re making fun of the son?”’
Hair necessities It takes about 90 minutes to transform Courtney into the red-lipstick-wearing, high-hair-sporting Flo. ”[The hairdresser] will comb my hair out at the end of the day, and by the end of my ride home, it’s creeped up to the beehive again,” Courtney says. ”It’s aggressive hair. It has its own life. It has its own Social Security number.”
What’s next A small role on Fox’s Sons of Tucson (March 21), and more Progressive ads.
You know him as…
The shirtless, sweet-talking, horse-riding Old Spice spokesman
Age 36 Where else you’ve seen him Among other bit parts, Mustafa — a former NFL player — has played a bailiff on Ugly Betty and a cop on Days of Our Lives.
Giving voice Mustafa used the distinctive voices of Adam West, James Brolin, and Robert Wagner as inspiration for his exaggerated tone in the Old Spice spots. But he impressed Old Spice with more than just his voice: ”I had to walk in the audition with my shirt off,” he says.
Take off According to the actor, most folks on the street have yet to recognize him — except for one TSA agent at the airport: ”She said, ‘Are you that guy on the commercial? I saw you on TV last night!”’ Did she give the buff actor an extra pat-down for good measure? ”No! I was kind of like, ‘You’re asking me questions? Shouldn’t you be, like, checking for bombs?”’
What’s next Look for the actor as a SWAT team leader during Castle’s March 22 episode.
You know her as…
Orbit gum’s ”fabulous!” spokeswoman
Age 36 Where else you’ve seen her Branch played Charlie’s sister-in-law on Lost and a wench in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
On-the-job injury Branch was surprised to learn she had landed the Orbit gig, especially since her audition resembled something straight out of America’s Funniest Home Videos. ”They were going to throw a tennis ball past my head,” she says. ”So they threw the ball and it hit me smack-dab in the middle of the forehead.” That said, the job also has its perks: Branch receives a lifetime supply of Orbit gum. Says the actress, ”Actually, this is embarrassing — I’m chewing it right now.”
Blending in The actress says she rarely gets recognized in public. ”I can be in line at the supermarket, and somebody will be picking up Orbit gum and they say, ‘I love the girl in this commercial.’ And I’ll stand there and say, ‘Yeah, I know. She’s gorgeous, I love her.’ And they have no idea that it’s me.”
What’s next Branch, who speaks fluent Chinese, will star in Kung Fu Man — her third Chinese film — and will appear in the Tony Shalhoub-starring indie film Feed the Fish.