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Brad Pitt's 1980s Pringles Commercial Is So Unhinged It'll Make You Cringe

When conjuring the image of a consummate A-lister, fewer names come to mind faster than Brad Pitt. Before his most famous performances, Oscar glory, and an equally impressive career as a producer, Pitt secured his breakthrough role in Ridley Scott's "Thelma and Louise."

The 1991 road film wasn't Pitt's first job. The up-and-coming actor had been toiling away on TV sets and in commercials since 1987, when he landed his first uncredited film roles and appeared in shows like "Another World" and "Dallas." At that point, he hadn't quite established his heart-throb reputation, nor his position as an arbiter of cool. One of the strangest artifacts from Pitt's early career was a commercial for Pringles.

Directed by Lawrence Bridges, the 1988 commercial is a neon-soaked affair featuring some shirtless surfer bros — Pitt among them — in want of Pringles. Think the "Saved By the Bell" gang with a case of the munchies. When their convertible breaks down, seemingly because they're out of Pringles, some beach babes show up just in time with the stackable snacks in tow.

The ad would be typical '80s fare if not for the jarring jump cuts and dolly zooms, not to mention sped-up motion that turns the background singer's voice into a surreal, high-pitched warble. Similarly head-scratching is that Pringles is marketed as "The Fever Reliever," apparently for the Pringles fever sweeping the nation. As one YouTube commenter put it, "The fact that Brad Pitt is in it is not the strangest thing about this commercial."

Pitt has worked with impressive commercial directors

Brad Pitt starred in another Pringles ad directed by Lawrence Bridges, and it seems to combine footage of the surfboard-filled commercial with an ad featuring some youngsters enjoying the Pringles lakeside. Highlights include a young Pitt directing his gaze at a bear. It does, however, abandon the strange "Pringles are the fever reliever" jingle for an early iteration of the more well-known "Once you pop you can't stop" tagline. Bridges' syncopated camera movements and extreme angles are still present, perhaps a holdover from his days as a music video editor.

Even after he became a star, Pitt still appeared in the odd ad campaign, though later commercials — like a famous '90s Levi's ad spot – tended to lean into his newly acquired heartthrob status.

At this point in his career, Pitt has worked with an enviable list of directors, including in commercial work alone. In 2008, he collaborated with Wes Anderson on a SoftBank ad inspired by the films of Jacques Tati, and for the same company he also worked with Wong Kar-wai.

Pitt also starred in a 2005 Super Bowl ad for Heineken. Directed by David Fincher, with whom he had worked on "Seven," "Fight Club," and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," the commercial showed Pitt evading hordes of paparazzi in pursuit of a six pack of beer. The premise, he told GQ, was tongue-in-cheekily cooked up by his friend Fincher. "A funny, funny f—er," Pitt said. "He's been around me for a long time, and he's seen how we've been harassed, and he definitely saw a window for some humor."