Ilana Becker can barely go a day without someone asking her, “ 'You're the girl with the stomach, right?' ”
Many actors are known for their signature roles. In Becker's case, that role is of a dysfunctional digestive system. She plays Irritabelle, that adorably annoying redhead in tights in the campaign for Allergan's Viberzi,a prescription drug to treat irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea.
“I've been blown away by the response” to the ad, said Becker, who was once followed from baggage claim to the airport exit by someone who recognized her.
In the cottage industry of voice and commercial actors who play diseases and afflicted citizens in healthcare ads, there are a host of actors who welcome the chance to embrace the quirkiness.
Take Roger L. Jackson, the voice of Mr. Mucus for Mucinex. He originated the voice and personality of the wiseguy ball of phlegm back in 2004 and played Mr. Mucus for 10 years.
“Basically he's a loogie,” Jackson said. “They wanted him to have a New Yorky attitude and sound. Have you ever seen 'Guys and Dolls'? He's B.S. Pully, the guy who plays Big Jule from Chicago,” he added, explaining his inspiration for Mr. Mucus' voice.
Paul Guyet is a pharmaceutical ad veteran. He's the voice for Boehringer Ingelheim's heartburn medicine character Captain Zantac and was also a talking fish for AstraZeneca in 2015.
In “Take It From a Fish,” Guyet's piscine character, Sal—who is lying in a bed of ice in a grocery store case with his pal Marty—says that Martin Scorsese called him and wants him for his next film. Marty says, “Really, when's that filming?” Sal says in six months. Marty deadpans, “Yeah, don't think you're gonna be available.”
Becker, who also does personal appearances at gastroenterology conferences for Allergan, said, “GI doctors are the best; they have such a great sense of humor. If someone watching is less embarrassed and more encouraged to live out loud, that makes me feel great.”