Depressing look at the actors who became stars as the face of a company. Smiling Bob seems to be doing OK. Dude you got a Dell, not so much. Joe Isuzu took it pretty hard.
Playing Joe Isuzu was one of the greatest experiences of Leisureâ€™s professional life. Letting the character go was devastating. In 1990, after four years in the part, Leisure picked up his mail one day and found a letter from the company. At the time, he was in negotiations to extend his contract for another year. His services, he read, were no longer needed. â€œIt was chilling,â€ he says.
He grabbed a bottle of vodka. â€œEvery half hour, Iâ€™d take another swig of vodka and read the letter again,â€ says Leisure. â€œReally? A letter? I was horribly upset. Iâ€™m only human. I was the personification of this vehicle. I could not shed that. I knew Iâ€™d be saddled with that for the rest of my life.â€
Successful brand actors tend to rave about their time playing the face of a brand. Letting go is another story. For most artists, achieving a huge commercial success, be it a hit song or movie or novel, guarantees another shot at stardom; the opposite is true for most brand actors. Once youâ€™re the face of one major product, no other major product wants you.