Many of today’s top Hollywood stars have been in show business a lot longer than you might imagine. Encouraged — if not pushed — by their parents to pursue commercial and acting roles, some landed their first commercial gigs while still toddlers. Here’s a look at five young future stars honing their skills in commercials.
5. Leonardo DiCaprio
The actor who made young women swoon with his role in the 1997 film Titanic was just another teen pitchman with poofy hair in this Bubble Yum commercial from the late 1980s. DiCaprio got his start in Hollywood as a preschooler, but it wasn’t always easy for him — at age 5, he got kicked off the set of the children’s show Romper Room for being disruptive.
4. Keanu Reeves
The future star of The Matrix trilogy already had some theater work on his resume when he made this Coca-Cola commercial in the early 1980s. And in case you’re wondering, that is not Reeves’ real father. Reeves’ birth father, who has a conviction for selling heroin in his past, left the family when Keanu was young.
3. Kurt Russell
Kurt Russell is best known by the younger generation as the longtime partner of Goldie Hawn and the stepfather-figure of actress Kate Hudson. But Russell has enjoyed a solid film career, never quite the box-office draw of contemporary stars, but still making the most of leading roles in such classics as Tombstone and John Carpenter’s The Thing. He even portrayed Elvis Presley in a 1979 made-for-TV movie. Russell was signed by the legendary Walt Disney as a 10-year-old in 1960, and appeared in several Disney movies in the 1960s. Meanwhile, he found time to appear in some commercials during that era.
2. Haley Joel Osment
Several years before he scared movie audiences with his “I see dead people” line in the 1999 film The Sixth Sense, Haley Joel Osment was just another child actor appearing in commercials. Osment got his start in commercials at age 4.
1. Jodie Foster
In case you missed it in the YouTube clip we ran with the “Classic Baby Boomer Toys” story in June 2011, here’s an 8-year-old Jodie Foster with screen legend Henry Fonda expounding on the wonders of the GAF Viewmaster. Foster began acting in commercials at age 3, years before she landed the role that launched her career in Taxi Driver.