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Your Favorite Celebs & The Japanese Commercials They Don’t Want You To Know About

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    Last month, the Internet was buzzing about the discovery of an old Japanese McDonald’s commercial supposedly starring Taylor Swift. Though Swiftie has yet to confirm if it was her — or if the fast-food chain just hamburgled her image — we know for a fact that plenty of her famous friends have done ads in Japan.

    Big celebs have classically eschewed offers to plug products on TV in the U.S., probably to avoid cheapening their allure as a serious acteur. But, the fact that Japanese brands are willing to drop stacks of yen on endorsements by Hollywood stars that their fans overseas will never see (as the actor Dennis Hopper put it, “If I could do one of these every year, I could retire”), means that tons of A-listers have been more than willing to lend their celebrity to Japanese commercials.

    Some stars have even reportedly gone as far as including a secrecy clause in their contract to ensure that the ads never leave the country. That strategy might have worked before YouTube — but thanks, Internet, for making it possible for us to enjoy some of our favorite stars turning Japanese in these often-zany ads.

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    Miranda Kerr For Bold (And More)
    When Japanese consumers think of Miranda Kerr, they don’t think of Victoria’s Secret, but of Bold laundry detergent. Or Samantha Thavasa handbags. Or Lipton. Or black tea. Or any one of the plethora of products that she’s promoted in the Land of the Rising Sun in just the last three years.

    In her Japanese commercials, she’s gone on a Hawaiian honeymoon with Japan’s biggest boyband hottie, chowed down on a fried pork cutlet, and sung about lemon tea in wacky Spanish-accented Japanese. Maybe it’s her supermodel looks, or maybe it’s because she’s willing to chirp Japanese slogans — but whatever it is, in Japan, Miranda sells.

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    Brad Pitt For SoftBank
    Besides his career of star-making roles, Brad Pitt’s string of commercials for Japanese products have made him enough of a sensation to earn his own Japanese nickname: Burapi. And, while some Hollywood actors might find waiting hand and foot on a sumo wrestler twice their size to be a humiliating premise, Burapi’s game in this commercial for Japanese cell phone company SoftBank.

    (Maybe that’s because he wants us to forget about the totally ‘90s advertisement he did for Toyota where he cruises around in a Corolla to Ricky Martin’s “Shake Your Bon-Bon.”)

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    Jodie Foster For Honda
    Jodie Foster is known for deep and serious roles, but she was all smiles in her ‘90s Japanese car commercials. A young Foster strolls in slow-mo with an entourage of business casual hunks, wears incredible shoulder pads, gets her skirt caught in the car door, and winsomely photographs a throwback Honda Civic while proclaiming it “powerful,” “smooth,” and “clever.”

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    Leonardo DiCaprio For Jim Beam
    Leonardo DiCaprio’s Japanese commercial for Jim Beam whiskey is laughably reminiscent of Bill Murray’s “Make it Suntory time” spot in Lost in Translation, which is probably why he filed a cease and desist letter when Japander.com put it on the internet for all to see. Don’t worry, Leo — there’s nothing embarrassing about doing a commercial for bottom shelf spirits where you make a ball of ice explode with a snap of your fingers and recite the memorable line, “Cool bourbon.”

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    Meg Ryan For Navi Dingo
    In America in the mid-90s, Meg Ryan was stealing hearts in rom-coms like Sleepless in Seattle andWhen Harry Met Sally. But, at the same time in Japan, she was chasing UFOs with her two kids in a minivan. It’s amazing that no one has made a GIF of her saying “Navi Navi Dingo!”