The actor whose face is on products all over the world, but he doesn’t know why

BJ Novak at his home in Los Angeles on October 31, 2016. (Jake Michaels / The New York Times)

In recent years, Swedes buying a bottle of Calvin Klein’s Encounter cologne have likely been caught by the piercing gaze of an American actor.

The same goes for those who have bought certain brands of face paint in Uruguay, electric razors in China, or knee-length ponchos in Europe.

The familiar face of this man enchanted product manufacturers around the world, who chose his stock image among millions to include on their packaging. But the man in the photo, BJ Novak, a 42-year-old actor best known for his role in “The Office,” did not choose to be the face of perfume or face paint or ponchos.

Someone chose her photo and then uploaded it “years ago” to a website where it became public domain, she said Monday on Instagram.

That means the image, with tousled hair and black collared shirt, can be used freely without permission. And companies have used it, as BuzzFeed noted Tuesday in an overview of home and personal care products from around the world with your image. So yeah, that’s Ryan from “The Office” in a box containing hair clippers.

Your professional career

Novak could not be reached for further comment through his representatives. He is best known for his character on “The Office,” Ryan Howard, who went from a badly battered temp worker to an executive at the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Co. Off-camera, Novak served as a writer, director, and executive producer for the Successful American sitcom, based on the British series of the same name. He has done other projects in film and television, such as “The Premise,” an FX anthology series on Hulu.

Novak seems to take his stock photo fame in good humor. On Instagram, where he posted photos of himself in various product packages, saved the images in a collection that he called “modeling”.

BJ Novak during an interview with Seth Meyers in September 2021. Photo: Lloyd Bishop / NBC / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images.

BJ Novak during an interview with Seth Meyers in September 2021. Photo: Lloyd Bishop / NBC / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images.

He is not the only one to whom it has happened

Novak is in consecrated company, since catalog photos such as those of András Arató and “The distracted boyfriend” have been used and reused around the world.

Actor Simu Liu has often joked about the time he modeled for catalog images in 2014. He said he was paid $ 120 to take the photos, which have since appeared in everything from textbooks to YMCA flyers. “That catalog photo shoot always finds a way to come back and haunt me hahaha,” Liu commented on Twitter in 2018.

Could legally claim

Novak most likely did not make any money from his photo, as public domain images are free to use. However, Marc Misthal, lead attorney at Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman, a New York law firm, said that, in the United States at least, Novak has a number of potential legal avenues to choose from, if it so chooses.

His lawyer can send cease and desist letters to companies that used his image, or he can escalate the matter by suing the companies, said Misthal, who specializes in copyright and trademark law.

However, Misthal believes the actor is more likely to sue the companies that made money from the photo than the person who uploaded it to a public domain website.

“It’s really the fact that their face or image is associated with a particular product, because they are using their image to attract customers and basically to make money,” Misthal explained.

However, if Novak’s Instagram post on Monday is any indication, he has no plans to take legal action against anyone.

“It amuses me too much to do anything about it,” he wrote.

She has known of her double life as a “model” since at least 2014, when she posted a photo on Instagram of her image in cologne boxes, showing five sets of her eyeballs staring at Swedish shoppers.

At the time he joked: “I feel #blessed to announce the launch of my fragrance, available now in a Swedish department store.”

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The actor whose face is on products all over the world, but he doesn’t know why