If you're a big fan of the Super Bowl, it's probably not just about the athletic side of the event. After all, the Super Bowl is just as much about entertainment as it is sports. Some brands have even started releasing their ads ahead of time to build a buzz for the event. If you've already watched the offering from the iconic German auto brand, you might be wondering who the driver in the Mercedes Super Bowl commercial is. If he looks familiar, that's no coincidence. Peter Fonda, who plays the driver, is just one of the many big names that contributed to the commercial.
After all, we're talking about a spot that was directed by the Coen Brothers (who are the creative superstars behind No Country for Old Men, Fargo and The Big Lebowski). A spot that boasts the rock 'n' roll banger of a song Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild" as a soundtrack. A spot that acts as a satirical nod towards the '60s motorbike flick Easy Rider.
But Fonda's casting was a particularly deft move from the directors. He, as his name suggests, is Barbarella actor Jane Fonda's son, and, like his mother, he was also an actor — along with many other things to many other people.
Fonda had a colorful youth. He hung out with The Beatles, inspiring their track "She Said She Said," when, while under the influence of LSD, Fonda told the band, referencing surgery he had as a child, "I know what it's like to be dead." He grew to be a face for the counterculture, playing Heavenly Blues, the Hells Angel chapter president and protagonist of the film The Wild Angels.
However, given the title of the commercial, "Easy Driver," presumably the Cohens are referencing one Fonda's most famous role in Easy Rider. He played Captain America, one of the two main roles, an easy going biker whose leather jacket sported a giant American flag.
Presumably, the joke the advertisement operates on is the following: to a certain generation, Fonda is instantly recognizable, and you associate Fonda with one mode of transport above all others. So, if you were going to be blocked in by this actor, you'd expect to be blocked in by a motorbike. Instead, Fonda's driving a Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster. That's how good Mercedes is.
But if you're really familiar with Fonda's work (or you're looking for a conversation starter during the Super Bowl ad break), then you'll know he also starred in the cult classic Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry as NASCAR/getaway driver Larry Rayder, which make the fact he opts for a car over a motorbike in the spot seem less gasp-inducing.
However, admittedly this movie is far less well known than Easy Rider. That means the Mercedes ad works like a dream if you know Fonda, but you've not been obsessively watching every single film he's ever been in.