Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to skip over all those pesky (and loud!) television commercials during your favorite programs, but that hasn’t stopped some of the country’s biggest corporations and organizations from pulling out the big guns when it comes to voiceover talent. Consider it a nifty little trick to capture your interest and attention—after all, what better way to keep your finger off the remote than the nagging sense that you’ll be able to figure out who is squawking at you to buy a truck or a hamburger or some investment product if only you could listen just a bit longer?
So which famous actors and actresses have stepped up to the mic to record words on fancy cars, cozy restaurants, and even toilet paper? You might be surprised.
1. John Cusack – Chevrolet
Cusack came on board as the car company’s main (voice) man back in February, when he replaced another actor, Tim Allen, as the voice o’ Chevy. The Say Anything actor might not be the obvious choice to pontificate on “a man and his truck and also a little calf and rain and the outdoors and a broken fence,” but goshdangit, Cusack lends some serious gravitas to a strangely emotional 30-second spot. Will that little lost calf be okay? If Cusack is narrating it, it looks like we’re in the clear.
2. Jon Hamm – Mercedes Benz
The only surprising thing about actor Jon Hamm giving voice to the luxury lifestyle of Mercedes Benz is that more high profile brands haven’t begged him to do the same thing. Sure, he’s got the smooth and sexy tones of the finest voiceover talents, but he also comes with the added weight of his Mad Men tenure. If a guy who makes his car-purchasing dollars by starring on a show about the finest advertising that money can buy is willing to stump for your product, that’s one heck of an endorsement. The best or nothing indeed.
3. Jason Sudeikis – Applebee’s
Applebee’s may style itself as your friendly neighborhood restaurant (so friendly and neighborhood-y that you can find the exact same joint in other towns around the country!), but that doesn’t mean they skimp on voiceover talent used to tout their affordable fare. Former SNL funnyman Jason Sudeikis may be the current voice of Applebee’s (and his sardonic attitude really works for sandwich-selling, strange as that may seem), but the restaurant chain has used plenty of other high profile talent in the past, including both John Corbett and Wanda Sykes.
4. Morgan Freeman – Visa
Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman may be best known for his “voice of God” roles on the big screen, but he’s also used his voice talents for a handful of ads for Visa and the NFL. The velvet-voiced thespian might sound like an odd choice for the spunky commercials, but he still manages to add sophistication and pep to otherwise raucous and relatively straightforward ads.
5. Matt Damon – TD Ameritrade
Online broker TD Ameritrade has been going for whimsy in their latest set of ads, and an upbeat Matt Damon is on hand (on voice?) to add a warm familiarity to the commercials. He might not be instantly recognizable, but once you know it’s the Good Will Hunting star, it’s impossible not to hear his slight Boston lilt in every commercial. Why no one has thought to dispatch Damon for a series of Apple commercials, we’ll never know.
6. John Corbett – Walgreens
While he may be best remembered to a certain subset of Sex and the City fans as the dude Carrie Bradshaw should have ended up with, John Corbett has spent his post-SATC years carving out a hearty voiceover career. The former voice of Applebee’s is now the voice of another major chain, Walgreens. Similar to his work for Applebee’s, everyman Corbett is tasked with making Walgreens seem neighborhood-y and friendly—in his world, it’s located at “the corner of happy and healthy.”
7. Lisa Kudrow – Yoplait
Jamie Lee Curtis may be the face of Dannon’s Activia yogurt, but former Friend Lisa Kudrow gives her a real run for her probiotics as the voice of Yoplait. Kudrow’s yogurt ads are zippy, fun, and fresh—not something people usually associate with boring old yogurt. The familiarity of Kudrow’s upbeat voice keeps things moving along and, oops!, now you’ve bought, just like, a lot of yogurt.
8. Antonio Banderas – Nasonex
It’s one of the weirdest continuing commercials on the tube today—a crudely animated series of ads that feature Antonio Banderas and his sexy accent as the voice of a bee who is shilling for allergy medicine. Nasonex’s ads are almost too weird to work, and yet they appear to, simply thanks to the unshakeable recognizability of their bee-voice. Banderas? More like Beederas.
9. Zach Braff – Cottonelle
Actor/writer/director/Grammy winner (true fact!) Zach Braff has frequently thrown his talents into the commercial ring, giving voice to such products as Pur water filters and Wendy’s fast food, along with his continuing gig as the voice of a puppy in Cottonelle’s toilet paper ads. Like Banderas, Braff’s commercial voiceover isn’t confined to simple narration; he’s also tasked with embodying a strange, seemingly unrelated animal mascot. At least the puppy is cute?
10. Allison Janney – Kaiser Permanente
We would happily listen to actress Allison Janney’s voice all day, and if that means tuning in for Kaiser Permanente commercials, we’ll do it. Who else could possibly sound so soothing, so knowledgeable, and so appropriately chipper while chattering about something as confusing and upsetting as health care coverage?
11. John Krasinksi – Esurance
Another shockingly perfect pairing? Hollywood’s most adorable doofball and car insurance. Figuring out how to insure your vehicle can be a headache and a half, but when John Krasinski pops up on your television to tout the merits of Esurance, it suddenly seems entirely doable. Krasinski has done ads for a whole mess of products, including Kodak, Ask.com, Puma, Apple TV, and Carnival Cruises. If Krasinski is selling it, we're buying.