The Bizarre Commercial That You Didn't Know Willem Dafoe Starred In

In 1980, "Heaven's Gate" by director Michael Cimino hit the silver screen, featuring the likes of Jeff Bridges and Kris Kristofferson. This Western went on to find little success with critics and next to none at the box office, but considering what else it had to offer Hollywood, it more than served its purpose. Though he's not credited for his work on the movie and most of his scenes wound up on the cutting room floor, "Heaven's Gate" stands as the cinematic debut of Willem Dafoe, who went on to become an acting icon in the years that followed.

As a part of such productions as "The Lighthouse," "Spider-Man: No Way Home," and "Nightmare Alley," to name a few, Dafoe has found himself in the headlines quite a lot in the past several years. However, that's not to say that he hasn't maintained a consistent workload throughout the late-20th and early-21st centuries. From collaborations with director Wes Anderson to Pixar voice acting roles, Dafoe has proven himself committed to his craft and incredibly versatile, attaching his name to a wide range of projects and giving his all each and every time.

For evidence of how niche the entries on his résumé can be, look no further than the odd series of commercials Willem Dafoe starred in from 2010 to 2014. Let's just say there's no shame in not knowing that he took part in these advertisements or that they exist, to begin with.

Dafoe voiced Birds Eye's Clarence the polar bear

To break up the monotony of feature films and television shows, it's not uncommon for big-name actors to step into the realm of commercials here and there. For instance, Samuel L. Jackson is the face of Capital One credit cards, and Jeff Goldblum has become synonymous with, so it should come as no surprise that Willem Dafoe once tried his hand at this line of work. Just over a decade ago, he began a working relationship with Birds Eye frozen foods to portray their mascot, Clarence the polar bear, in a string of goofy ads.

"When they first pitched the idea to me, it sounded really cool," Dafoe told The Guardian in a 2017 interview, explaining that when he first found out about the gig, he figured Clarence would be an animated polar bear. It turns out he was wrong, and the character was actually a puppet — something he referred to as a "head-scratcher." Nevertheless, he went ahead and gave Clarence a voice and the "integrity" the ad agency wanted for him, and viewers were responsive. Still, it's not something that Dafoe looks upon as his finest work.

Norman "Green Goblin" Osborn, Elias Gordon, Jesus of Nazareth, and more will live on as Willem Dafoe's most recognizable roles. Clarence, the polar bear that hangs out in peoples' freezers and convinces them to eat Birds Eye products? Likely not.