TV adverts can be short films bringing works of art into your home through your television set. They can also be the bane of your televisual life that drive you from your warm, comfortable sofa or armchair to another room in the house: the kitchen, the bathroom, the shed - any room will do as long as there isn't a nauseating opera singer or an anthropomorphic meerkat being projected into it. When the people we usually expect to be entertaining us on a much bigger screen venture into the world of advertising, it can be a cringeworthy disappointment that they've had to stoop as low as selling us things to keep their career afloat. But, occasionally, the marriage of Hollywood A-listers and TV ads can produce something memorable that brings a smile to your face. Here are five of the best...
1. Kevin Bacon advertising Everything Everywhere (2012)
Gracing tellies across the country at the time of writing to advertise new mobile phone network EE, Kevin Bacon puts in a brilliant self-parodying performance, even playing a loosely-regulated version of "Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon" with himself and a dog. This could have been awful, but thankfully it's anything but. It's worth seeing just to hear Bacon talking about Tom Hanks and Frank Carson in the same breath.
2. Ray Liotta advertising Heineken (2004)
I've never understood why Ray Liotta never seems to have made it as a genuinely big name in cinema. His CV includes major roles in films such as Goodfellas and Hannibal, but they share space with credits in Operation Dumbo Drop and Wild Hogs. For me, Liotta has proven himself as a talented actor, and his turn as a humorously menacing Heineken representative in these adverts from 2004 just goes even further in proving that. If I thought disgruntled Liotta could be knocking on my door, I'd make sure I finished my pint too.
3. Samuel L. Jackson advertising Barclays Bank (2002)
There's no question that Samuel L. Jackson is one of the consummate talents of modern cinema with two decades worth of fantastic films under his belt. And in these adverts for Barclays from 2002, Jackson shows that he can make everything from nonsensical stories about buying shoes to quotes from Shakespeare as cool as a Tarantino monologue. "If a dollar was a chicken, would a chicken be evil?" Jackson asks making you feel like Brett in Pulp Fiction. Go on, disagree with him. I dare you, I double dare you.
4. Willem Dafoe advertising Birds Eye (2010 to present)
This article's most surreal entry (which considering Samuel L. Jackson's effort is pretty impressive in itself) sees Willem Dafoe lending his voice to a polar bear puppet who apparently lives in people's freezers. Dafoe as Clarence (the polar bear's name, according to Birds Eye) is arguably the most surprising actor and role to appear on this list - a glance down Dafoe's IMDb page shows only a handful of TV credits to his name, most of which are one-off appearances and cameos - but the sinister, unsettling quality he brings to Clarence is something to relish. It's an advertising stroke of genius. When a creepy animal puppet says "I'm watching you" in Norman Osborn's voice, you take notice.
5. Christopher Lloyd advertising Nike Air Mag trainers (2011)
Okay, when Nike launched a limited run of the shoes Marty McFly wears in 2015 Hill Valley, how else could they sell them without a Back To The Future tribute ad? Everything about this advert is brilliant, from the Lone Pine Mall setting, to NBA player Kevin Durant spouting line after line from the incomparable trilogy, to the date the trainers will be available with "power laces". It's even directed by Frank Marshall, producer of the original films. But the highlight of the whole thing is undoubtedly Christopher Lloyd returning to the iconic role of "Doc" Brown. So sit back, click play, enjoy, and repeat. In (almost) the words of Huey Lewis, that's the power of Lloyd.