Jobs taken by big name celebrities that make you wonder "Why?"

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?

I imagine it’s the same reason Shatner charges $80 an autograph at trade shows. Because he’ll get people lined up around the block yelling “shut up and take my money!”

Michael Caine, on his role in* Jaws: The Revenge*

Shatner capitalizing on lawyer ads was just pure funny because that was his best acting.

My father-in-law was a cabinetmaker. He specialized in all sorts of precision, detailed carpentry. He also had no qualms about knocking 2x4’s together when times were slow. Why should an actor be different?

I imagined retired and semi-retired actors and actresses who still have the energy and mobility do it just to stay busy. Sure, they are set with money but are bored sitting around all day like any other person at that stage in life.

For something like this I’d assume it’s because Rhys-Davies either owed someone a favor or was friends with someone involved in this show (the IMDb tells me it was called “You Wish”). Unless the show was outrageously offensive then showing up for a couple of guest star appearances was unlikely to hurt Rhys-Davies’s reputation, and he’d get a little money and presumably make someone else happy.

Looking at that IMDb entry more closely I see that “You Wish” was produced by Touchstone Television, which is part of the Disney empire. Rhys-Davies was doing voice work on several Disney projects (like the Gargoyles series) around the same time, so someone he knew through those jobs probably got him to do “You Wish”.

I wondered about the actors DirecTV got for those commercials where they’d recreated scenes from their movies, altered to add lines about DirecTV. Several of them seemed still way too current for that, and above such things - Sigourney Weaver doing Alien, Naomi Watts doing King Kong, Kathy Bates doing Misery, etc.

Many actors just plain like working on set. Shatner may have just figured that shooting the law firm ads would be a fun way to spend the day.

I’m not sure who said it but “A plumber doesn’t go to a job and think ‘these pipes are beneath me.’”
I wonder how many ex wives and kids Shatner has. He has some bills to pay and probably received some perks to. Many American actors do commercials in foreign countries but won’t do them here. They don’t want to ruin their brand in the US.

Here are some made by good ol’ Arnie Schwarzenegger: Arnold Schwarzenegger Complete Japanese Commercial Filmography

Two exes, 3 kids. (He’s been married 4 times, but his third marriage ended in her death, not a divorce.) Not a whole lot of alimony, and all the kids are grown (from his first marriage), so no child support.


Christopher Walken has said in interviews that he pretty much says yes to everything because acting is his hobby.

He’s in a couple DVD video games and all three Prophey movies(I think). Hey, they paid him.

Why is Steven Tyler doing Burger King ads? Free Whoppers for life?

As Neil Young said, “Ain’t singin’ for Pepsi, Ain’t singin’ for Coke. I don’t sing for nobody, Makes me look like a joke”.

Well, actually, ST isn’t singing for BK, he’s just working the window.

I think the OP is looking for examples of actors knocking 2x4’s together when times aren’t slow.

If the estate of Martin Luther king Jr can use his “I Have a Dream” speech for a commercial, then no actor can ever demean himself by any work.

I think the point that actors work for a living is well taken. Shatner might be loaded, but many actors, even those who are critically acclaimed, aren’t that rich. Additionally, it strikes me that if actors only take A-list roles they will in fact have a lot of spare time on their hands. I imagine agents sell these projects quite well - like the lawyer commercial. Shatner says a few lines and probably gets paid on the magnitude of a feature film. Who wouldn’t do that?

I always wondered why Alex Trebek pimped himself to sell Colonial Life Insurance.

As did Ed McMahan and Art Linkletter for similar companies.

Big ego. I love rebi!