Before They Were Stars: George Clooney and Leonardo DeCaprio Sell JDM Daihatsus and Hondas

It’s known that successful American actors who are past their prime sometimes supplement their income doing commercials in the Far East, particularly Japan, like Bill Murray’s character in Lost In Translation. Apparently young American actors at the start of their careers have also made money shooting ads there. Here is a 1984 ad for the Daihatsu Charade, with George Clooney and an as yet unidentified occidental actress. I’m not sure how much got left on the cutting room floor, because you only see George for two brief periods in this short spot, and in one of them he’s acting goofy for no apparent reason. What little dialogue he has is dubbed in Japanese. When this other JDM ad for the mid ’90s Honda Civic was shot Leonard DiCaprio was probably better known than Clooney was in 1984 since he’d already started having featured roles in movies. That might explain why has a more substantial role than Clooney, wooing a Japanese lass. He even gets to say a line in English, “It’s a miracle, hoo hoo.” Not really sure what exactly is the miracle, that generation was a pretty nice Civic but it didn’t drive on water or anything.

Actually, actors from the West still in their prime also get commercial work in Japan and they get paid very well for it. As recently as 2007 Clooney was working for Toyota. I’m pretty sure that he made substantially more money though he’s really not on the screen that much more than when he was pitching Charades. He does have a line, “Let’s go!” and I think it’s him doing the voiceover with the tagline at the end of the ad.

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