Fish thrower becomes surprising commercial star


by JOE FRYER / KING 5 News

Posted on February 20, 2013 at 12:33 AM

SEATTLE – Taho Kakutani has never aspired to be a professional actor.  He achieved his career dream nine years ago after getting a job throwing fish at Pike Place Fish Market.

Yet he has suddenly, unintentionally become a commercial spokesman for a couple major companies. 

“It’s not anything I ever dreamed I would ever do,” Kakutani said. 

He currently appears in a 30-second TV ad for Advil, which shows Kakutani walking around a fish market, hauling boxes and discussing how the pain reliever helps ease soreness in his back and shoulders.

He was selected after answering questions for what he initially thought was a pain study.  After honestly answering that he used Advil to relieve pain, he eventually learned it was all part of casting for a commercial.

Kakutani flew to Los Angeles around Thanksgiving to shoot the spot on a set strikingly similar to his Seattle market.  The commercial started airing a few weeks ago, and many visitors to Pike Place immediately recognized Kakutani from the ad.

Still, he will not let it go to his head.

“When I do my taxes, I’m a fish monger, not an actor,” Kakutani said. 

But it did not take long for another company to come calling. 

Kakutani was recently hand-picked by Nordstrom for an online ad campaign for designer jeans that features real-life working guys. 

“It’s just so exciting to talk to somebody who’s passionate about what they do, and these guys are so passionate,” said Christina Libertini, a video art director for Nordstrom.

The online denim campaign will launch in March. 

Through it all, Kakutani remains humble, saying Hollywood could never replace the fish market.

“I love working here and the opportunities that come here are plenty,” he said. 

While aspiring actors might scratch their heads at Kakutani’s fortunes, perhaps they could take some notes: to become a star, it might be best to swim with the fish.