Remember that friend's episode where all the friends find Joey's Japanese men's lipstick commercial? Or the entire plot of Lost in Translation? ("For relaxing times, make it Suntory time") Celebrities really do make weird Japanese ads. Big stars that would NEVER be caught dead hawking cars and beer in America can be found on giant billboards across Tokyo and in prime time commercials. Right now, there is a big Hugh Jackman for Asahi Super Dry Beer campaign. On my first trip to Japan, Clooney was shilling for the Honda Odyssey. (The copy underneath George roughly translates to: "I like good cars. Because I'm a man.") These gigs pay a lot and most contracts include a clause that the commercials can't be use in Western markets, which is why you never see them. Thank goodness for YouTube!
Remember Tommy Lee Jones? I'm pretty sure he's the inspiration for Bob Harris in Lost in Translation. According to IMDB, TLJ's next big project is...sigh...Men in Black 3. In Japan, you can see Tommy's mug just about everywhere. He is and has been for some time, the face of Boss Coffee (owned by Suntory btw), a canned coffee company. He hardly speaks or smiles, but his presence is felt. This is acting at its best. He plays typical Japanese members of society and aside from TLJ, these are cool because you get a glimpse into daily life in Japan. If you've ever wanted to know what a maid cafe is like, check out the 2nd video.
Here he is as a bar host:
A TV show production guy in Akihabara:
A Hot Pepper (free restaurant guide) distributor:
And a Karaoke attendant: