A prime example are the law firm ads done by William Shatner. These are the commercials where they give a spiel about the excellency of a certain firm, then say the firm’s name in a cutaway- and they air locally wherever the law firm is situated. Shatner’s ad for a local law firm air here everyday.
I’ve seen similar ones by Robert Vaughn and Robert Conrad and William Schallert (the dad on the Patty Duke Show) and other actors, and those I understand: none of those actors have had regular series in a while and they’re old and it’s probably good money for not much work in their semi-retirement years. Shatner, however, has had several hit series, several hit movies, has earned tens of millions of dollars over the years, is 80 and by all accounts very rich, and while I’m sure these ads are lucrative they probably don’t pay a fraction of what he earned for Priceline and other ads, and the convention circuit earns him a fortune plus ad that he’s treated like a god. In other words, he can’t need the money he gets from the law firm ads, and they certainly aren’t a challenge or adding any prestige to his career he can’t get elsewhere, and in fact they are so cheesy and smarmy seeming that they tarnish his career. Even if he gives the money he makes from them to charity I still wonder why, because he could make more for doing any number of endorsements.
Another example: Years ago a marketing firm sent me some pilots to watch on VHS. One was for a sitcom in which a middle class single mom goes to an antique shop and buys an old rug that contains a (male) genie. It was as awful as it sounds. What amazed me was that the antique store owner was played by John Rhys Davies- i.e. he wasn’t even the star of this abomination- and he has never lacked for work. The only memorable thing about the pilot was “Why the hell is Sallah doing this?”
Any other actors who’ve taken “curious” choices when they didn’t seem to lack for work or money? Or insight into the above?