Japan Today

Leonardo DiCaprio finds extra work hawking whiskey in Japan

By Philip Kendall

Commercials: a lot of celebrities in the West won’t touch them with a borrowed pole. After working hard to build up their portfolio and making themselves a household name, for many professional actors the mere thought of putting their face on an advertisement is completely abhorrent.

In Japan, however, it’s a very different story. TV celebrities, singers and sports stars are a common feature on commercials, whether they be on television, magazines or even hanging over our heads as we take the train to work each morning. Watches, skin cream, beer, anti-hair loss, cars, language courses; you name it, someone famous is smiling and pretending they love it in exchange for a few extra yen.

This time it’s the turn of Hollywood heart-throb Leonardo DiCaprio to take the cash and smile for the camera. Because, as we all know, DiCaprio never shuts up about how much he loves Jim Beam whiskey usually.

Here’s the villain of Quentin Tarantino’s latest flick "Django Unchained" in a Japanese commercial for Jim Beam Whiskey. Watch as the star attacks a ball of ice with conventional human tools before remembering that he’s from Hollywood and, like all famous actors, can make things explode with the power of thought.

The face of a foreign star on a Japanese commercial usually means that a company means business and is doing well – or at least wishes to be perceived in that way – and you’d better believe that the viewing public pays attention when a new one shows up. Needless to say, companies like Suntory are happy to splash the cash if means bagging a famous foreign face, so while they’d likely shy away from anything more than a couple of swanky perfume or wrist watch ads in their home country, a bevy western stars have put their names to products in Japan to date, perhaps hoping that no one back home would notice and ask, “Surely you’ve got enough cash already?” Bruce Willis, Charlize Theron, Ben Stiller, Tommy Lee Jones and Arnold Schwarzenegger are just a small handful of the big names who’ve done a little part-time work here in Japan.

Source: ニュー速クオリティ

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I haven't seen this yet!!! :P

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Its not that special, he chops some ice, snaps his fingers, ice breaks into tiny pieces and he says something cool. finished. Surely the maker of this commercial could have made something a LITTLE bit deeper.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"...in exchange for a few extra yen."

A few extra yen that would equal us winning the lottery.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Lost in Translation...?!?!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I saw his mug once at a gas station selling tires. I've also seen posters of Brad Pitt in department stores selling cologne, and watches.

These celebs feel like they can make a few mil, and nobody will know.

And they're right. Nobody pays attention to what happens in Japan.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

JP pnly use foreigner when they can cash in!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Lost in Translation 2?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I can't blame him for taking the money, but the advert seems like a guaranteed way to make Jim Beam - not a bad whiskey as far as American stuff goes - taste of nothing at all.

I did see Robert De Niro eating popcorn in a commercial for something the other night. He's lost any right to be heralded as a serious artist henceforth. Analyse that and Meet the Fokkers were his first and final public warnings respectively, but shoveling popcorn in his mug for cash? Mr De Niro, you can join Bruce Willis in the "had-it-but-lost-it" line.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Sounds a lot better than the cringeworthy Chanel ad by Brad Pitt. God, it was like a 30 second cheesy motivational poster.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I have never been able to look at him the same after those damn "go wagon R" commercials from the late 90s. In fact, can't really stomach anyone who does ads here because its clearly all about the money. They used to be able to get away with it but thanks to YouTube, all the world can see them now.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

This makes me mad, he clearly only does this for the money, how dare he, has he no integrity? I mean, Japan of all places, i have lost any respect for him. What kind of "actor" comes to Japan to make a mint out of stuff like this?

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Why are people so negative about stars doing commercials in Japan? It's a business. Is it because they are making the money and you are not?

15 ( +16 / -1 )

I did see Robert De Niro eating popcorn in a commercial for something the other night. He's lost any right to be heralded as a serious artist henceforth.

Says you? I always find this gaijin indignation at these commercials funny. It's like they besmirched your reputation as well. Lighten up, a lot of them are funny.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Everything they do is about money. The movies, red carpet interviews, it's all about the money.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Brad Pitt's commercial riding a motobike for Eddie Bauer jeans...still makes me sigh with happiness. Lighten up, people!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

his so cute tho, but he looks more older than his age.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

He is also in a Toyota ad http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deEIy0SDAbI

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Why are people so incencsed that actors do ads for the money? Why on earth do you think they do movies? To change the world?

5 ( +5 / -1 )

" Why are people so negative about stars doing commercials in Japan? It's a business. Is it because they are making the money and you are not?"

Exactly! So what?! Celebs get paid for their image. Duh!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I'd share a drink with Leonardo. But we'd drink in moderation, of course.

2 ( +1 / -0 )

For relaxing times, make it Suntory time.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@falseflagsteve This is an actor who appeared in tripe like Titanic and Gangs of New York. A whisky ad is Shakespearean compared to that.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )



1 ( +2 / -1 )

With more intensity!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Some of the commercials are pretty funny, like the Tommy-Lee Jones Coffee Boss adds, or the Brad Pitt commercial with the Edwin Jeans. So they make a bit of cash on the side. Who cares? Most of us would do it if we could.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Celebrities aren't limiting their television ads to Japan anymore. Jennifer Aniston does an ad on American television for Aveeno lotion, Catherine Zeta-Jones does one for T-Mobile, Kelly Clarkson for Vitamin Water, Alan Jackson for Ford Trucks, Nicole Kidman for Chanel and Charleze Theron for Dior, to name a few. As American television is in its supposed "golden age" a lot of movie actors have started doing television shows too, such as Glenn Close in Damages, Zooey Deschanel in New Girl, Maria Bello in Prime Suspect, Patrick Wilson in A Gifted Man and a guest starring role on Girls, Jim Caviezel in Person of Interest, William C. Macy in Shameless, Don Cheadle in House of Lies and Liev Schreiber in Ray Donovan.

The bottom line,

.....perhaps hoping that no one back home would notice and ask, “Surely you’ve got enough cash already?"

I don't think anyone really cares all that much. The lines between cinema, television and commercials aren't as clearly delineated for most anymore.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I have no problems with celebs plugging certain products on TV or on ads. What's wrong with that? If they can make money out of it, good for them. We live in a capitalist society. That's what it's like, whether you like it or not.

I just wish he had better taste in whisky. I mean Jim Beam? Really? It's okay but......nah I agree with 2020hindsights and FPSRussia. Suntory is much better. And Macallan or Islay are awesome.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If people like DiCaprio or whoever want to make some pocket money from commercials then so be it. What really got my goat was a recent story I heard about Beiber. He apparently wanted to unwind at a club after a gig. His "people" called the club, expressed his intentions and promptly requested 15,000 quid from them for the pleasure of hosting the little tyke. They refused to pay but he went anyway...wtf thinks I. So let DiCaprio n the rest of those struggling actors get some..at least they work for it..kinda.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The top actors in Hollywood make over 20 mil per movie these days. Whenever I see these ads, especially the tacky ones, I lose a little respect for them.

I wonder how much is enough.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Leo obviously doesn't need the money so.....

I feel he might be half doing it for the money, and half because he really likes Jim Beam.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I lose a little respect for them.

Maybe he actually had a good time doing the commercial.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

it's odd how the article, and some posters, is saying that he doesn't need the money. why wouldn't he need more money? isn't that how we all feel, that we need and want more than what we have?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

He likes the gig coming and filming in Japan. he gets very well "looked after". and he is working to make money. Even an extra 2 mil isn't to be sneezed at.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Bogi: So you lose respect for them over ads but not for making 20 million per movie. Eh?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )


0 ( +1 / -1 )

Maybe he actually had a good time doing the commercial.

Maybe he did. That's not my point.

So you lose respect for them over ads but not for making 20 million per movie.

I have no problem with them making absurd amounts of money. Good luck to them. I think I am correct in assuming they would not appear in tacky Japanese TV commercials for free. Hence, the primary objective (perhaps not the only one) must be the money. The fact that extremely wealthy indiviuals, many of them class acts at the top of their professions, would pawn themselves like this for a few extra (unneeded) dollars is what makes me lose respect for them.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Jim Beam isn't exactly a top-shelf bourbon, and pouring it over crushed ice is certainly not going to help things any...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I think I am correct in assuming they would not appear in tacky Japanese TV commercials for free.

Of course they wouldn't. Nor would they appear in tacky movies, Japanese or otherwise for free and why should they? Their jobs are acting and as it's a job there is an understanding that they'll be paid for it. So again, I don't see your point. Tacky movies, tacky commercials, more money for either than most of us will see in a lifetime. What's the difference? And please don't make me list the tacky movies that Leo DiCaprio, Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis, Sean Connery, Harrison Ford and some of the other "class acts at the top of their professions" have made solely for money because they've all got their fair share that certainly couldn't have been made for art.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

whats with you people? let the poor guy make his money, he aint got enough, and he'll promote alcoholism if need be just to make a few extra yen. maybe he should learn from smap... way to go leonardooo

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So again, I don't see your point.

My point is how I feel. There's no right or wrong about it. All I said was that I lose respect for film actors when they appear in tacky Japanese TV commercials. I'm not trying to convince anyone that what I say is fact or fiction or anything like that. I love cinema, but when I see a movie starring someone who has been on my Japanese TV screen every night for the last 3 months flogging shampoo, potato chips or whatever, it's hard to get that image out of my head.

I will make the point, though, that these actors, probably on the advice of their management, usually steer well and truly away from such work in their own backyards. Doesn't that in itself say something?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Tommy Lee Jones seems to love his regular appearance on Suntory Boss canned coffee.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"With more intensity"

Ha ha lol, Leonardo and Bill Murray should team up to do a Suntory whiskey commercial.

Leonardo will always be Jack Dawson.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Memo to Philip: That commercial is running throughout Asia; not just Japan.


-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This "gaijin does commercials in Japan" phenomenon was even parodied on "Friends".



0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ha! I need to see this!:)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow... western celebs come to Japan to do commercials and make a few extra bucks. Who woulda thunk it?

For the two or three people who had never heard about this before, I suggest you check out japander.com.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Personally I don't see the problem. You get to travel to an exotic country (at least, more exotic than Hollywood) with your expenses paid, AND you get paid to "like" some Japanese product on-camera. This is no different than getting paid to "like" your co-star on-camera, and the amount of time invested in a commercial is miniscule compared to the amount of time a cast member spends on making a feature-length film. It's a win-win-win for the actor except for the jet-lag.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I guess that for someone like him doing this commercial would be just for the fun of it...

Japanese commercials are kinda funny to people from the US and LatinAmerica, so I guess that the companies pay a lot of money for these celebrities to do CM and they agree because of the money and the fun.

The fact is that the tendency nowadays is that a CM is not only for the brand that's advertising, it is also a way to continue to promoting the artist, in that way, artists keep themselves updated in the scene...

I got that feeling when I watched the CM for Hugo with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, I started to like him even though I did not see the "tudors" drama series...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I remember Arnold's spots had me rolling on the floor.


0 ( +0 / -0 )

'He doesn't need the money' etc comments are just odd..

'Oops! I made 20 million off my last movie, I better not work until my bank account is empty again, I might piss somebody off' ;-P

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It may be that he made the CM in the States not Japan but who cares? Many entertainers and sports people have the right to make money any way they want. It's non of our business. I'd be glad to do a CM for some extra dough. In fact I did once about twenty five years ago here. I got 20,000 yen and was happy about it. Only people who knew me said they saw me on TV.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is a good commercial, and if he made a few millions in the process, who are we to blame him for it? That does not take away ANY of his talent and sex appeal.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maybe Leo should promote something worthwhile other than liver cancer in salary man.. like Ivory Trade.. and japan promoting killing elephants and making stamps out of ivory .. which is no long cool.. if you have it now.. collectors Item.. because soon.. no more Ivory and Japan must put end to this.. Chinese and Thai are running illegal Ivory trade. hiring poachers in Africa.. transporting in containers to Thailand and then up to China along silk route.. along with slave trade in women .. women should be as upset with this but they love to have trinkets made from Ivory.. I dont think men care.. about ivory or jewels.. it is the women who fuel lust for killing living things for their vanity

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Leo is promoting a campaign against the illegal trade of wildlife body parts.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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