When Actors Go Bad

I would pay $10 (Okay….$20!) to know the real inside dope why Dos Equis beer chose to replace the journeyman actor Jonathan Goldsmith as their “Most interesting man in the world” in those beer commercials. He was perfect for it.

But perfect or not, they go and replace him. They go from a dignified, refined and articulate elderly gentleman to a guy (Augustin Legrand) who could pass for Michael Phelps’ unsavory, drug-addicted older brother. Shame on you advertising people. You’re not going to sell any beer if you keep pulling dumb stunts like that one.

Admittedly, because I have always viewed acting as a genuine “art form” (maybe not quite up there with writing, painting, composing, but very close) I strongly objected to actors prostituting themselves by shilling for predatory corporate sponsors. In fact, I hated it.

But ever since actors–even some extravagantly talented ones–made it clear that they see little difference between being paid to play “Hamlet” or Willie Loman on stage and being paid to sell hemorrhoid cream on television (a paycheck is a paycheck, dude) I have more or less come to accept it.

Besides, what choice does an actor have when his or her most productive years are clearly behind them–when the acting roles (even the courtesy guest spots on crappy TV shows) have all but dried up–and the only thing left to trade upon is their face and voice recognition? That’s why you see them doing commercials for reverse mortgages and insurance companies no one’s ever heard of. Everyone’s got to make a living.

But that doesn’t explain Samuel L. Jackson, one of my all-time favorite actors. That doesn’t explain Samuel L. Jackson accepting the role as ubiquitous pitchman (He’s everywhere!) for Capital One.

According to IMDb, Mr. Jackson has 168 acting roles to his credit, with half a dozen more movies ready to be released in 2017 and 2018. He’s at the top of his game. He ain’t poor. He is still wildly in demand. So why is this man shamelessly shilling for some corporate behemoth?

Alas, the gifted Samuel L. Jackson isn’t alone. There are other wonderful actors who have taken the plunge, including Jennifer Anniston, Kate Hudson, George Clooney and Al Pacino.

Hey, did you see Matthew McConaughey playing that guy with AIDS in the “Dallas Buyers Club”? Wasn’t he awesome? He totally deserved that Oscar.

Yeah, he was great, no doubt about it. But did you see him in that very understated Lincoln commercial, where he was just sort of chilling out behind the wheel? He was amazing.

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