Inside Brendan Fraser’s comeback, after years of Hollywood snubs

Things may not be over until the fat lady sings, but for Brendan Fraser, playing a 600-pound man is a whole new start.

When the film premiered at the 79th Venice International Film Festival on September 4, audiences were so moved they gave Fraser a standing ovation for six minutes and brought the actor to tears. It was reported that he tried to leave the theater but the applause was so relentless it seemed to physically freeze him in place. (The film is not expected to hit theaters until December 9.)

Such adoration was a far cry from Fraser’s later years of obscurity, living quietly on his horse farm in New Bedford, New York. He suffered excruciating pain and multiple surgeries resulting from stunts in action movies, like “The Mummy” franchise, which made him famous and, he said, brought him in and out of the hospital for seven years.

Fraser lives quietly on a horse farm in New Bedford, NY.
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He has three sons, Griffin, Holden and Leland (not pictured).
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In 2018, Fraser emerged to allege that in 2003 he was sexually assaulted by Philip Berk, then head of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. (Berk called Fraser’s “version” of the story a “total fabrication.”) The star told GQ it led to him stepping out of the spotlight: “I got depressed,” he said. he declares. “I blamed myself and was unhappy.”

It even made him wonder if he’d been blacklisted by the HFPA, which oversees the Golden Globes, telling GQ he was rarely invited back to the awards show in the years since. followed. The group said it was unaware of the allegations prior to GQ’s story, while Berk’s response was scathing: “His career has declined through no fault of our own.”

Fraser in “Encino Man” in 1992.

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He played in

Fraser starred in “Airheads” in 1994.

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The actor joked that he was

The actor joked he was “a walking steak” in 1997’s “George of the Jungle.”

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Although Fraser continued to make films – most of which you’ve probably never heard of, like “Hair Brained” and “Furry Vengeance” – and on television (including a stint on “The Affair” in 2016 -2017), it’s been a far cry from its glory days in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

But his new role in “The Whale,” directed by Oscar nominee Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan.” “The Wrestler”), should bring him back into the limelight. Critics praised Fraser’s brave portrayal of Charlie, an obese recluse confined to a wheelchair and struggling to reconnect with his estranged daughter.

While playing the role of a Texas Ranger on the show
While playing the role of a Texas Ranger on the show “Texas Rising,” Fraser developed a love for horses.
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“He’s a great example of someone willing to play outside of their comfort zone after practically disappearing. It’s not the kind of role that made him famous, but it’s not the hunky jock anymore,” a Hollywood insider told the Post, referring to movies like “George of the Jungle” by 1997, for which a very buff Fraser wore little more than a loincloth. “He has shown that he can adapt to age and a changing world.”

The actor also received respect from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who made his big-screen debut in 2001’s “The Mummy Returns” alongside Fraser. “Man”, he

makes me so happy to see this great standing ovation for Brendan.”

In “The Whale,” Fraser plays a 600-pound man confined to a wheelchair.
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‘The Whale’ director Darren Aronofsky (left) searched for an actor for years before he came up with the idea of ​​casting Fraser.
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Fraser’s recent accolades bring a smile to Denise Tyrell, author of “Brendan Fraser,” an unauthorized biography published in 2001. “I always thought he had chops,” Tyrell, now the company’s co-founder theater company Too Soon Old Productions, told the Post. ‘He got into doing silly comedies, but I really enjoyed his more serious work’ – like ‘Gods and Monsters’, in which Fraser played the handsome heterosexual gardener who was embarrassed by a gay director in the 1920s. England.

“Now his days of being a romantic man and jumping around mummies are over – and maybe that’s for the best,” Tyrell added. “As ‘The Whale’ testifies, it’s time for Brendan Fraser to step up and do some serious work.”

Fraser, here at the Venice Film Festival, is already tipped as an Oscar candidate for
Fraser, here at the Venice Film Festival, is already tipped as an Oscar nominee for “The Whale.”
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The son of a Canadian foreign service agent, Fraser lived a traveling childhood, traveling the world with his family and bouncing around in a series of prep schools. At one point, he received a serious hazing.

“I was pulled from my bed when I was 13 and thrown into the trunk of a car and then tied to playground equipment with a pillowcase over my head. They ripped off my pajama top and tried to rip off the bottom, but I kicked a guy in the head. He told Movieline magazine in 1999. “Firecrackers were thrown at me. Horrible. The car took off and I realized I was strapped [outside of] the local girls’ school. When I loosened up, I ran to the dorm and, ah, good guys, they gave me the house tie. I got made.

One of Fraser's earliest films (right) dates back to 1992
One of Fraser’s (right) early films was 1992’s ‘School Ties’ starring Matt Damon (left).
©Paramount/courtesy Everett Col

He landed his first movie in 1991 – a small role in “Dogfight,” which starred River Phoenix. From there, he starred in the silly but successful ‘Encino Man’, showed off his acting skills as a Jewish prep school athlete in ‘School Ties’ and soared to fame. box office with “George of the Jungle”. “His portrayal of a man raised by apes generates some $180 million at the box office.

Such was his reputation that when he showed off his skills opposite Ian McKellan in 1998’s “Gods and Monsters,” Stephen Baldwin jokingly called him “The spian and the meathead.”

If Baldwin was jealous at the time, it was for good reason – Fraser enjoyed the kind of Tinseltown success that had eluded him. Fans were so obsessed that they actually harassed Tyrell when his book came out (“They were hoping I could introduce them to Brendan”) and he dated his “George” co-star, Afton Smith. His career was on an upward trajectory and he joked that he and Smith were “more in the collaborative process of making children than the outcome”. Nevertheless, after six years of relationship, they got married in 1998 and had three children.

Actor and Afton Smith split in 2008 but stayed
The actor and Afton Smith split in 2008 but remained “best friends”.

The next logical step for the rising star was a film franchise that spun off from “The Mummy,” which dropped in 1999. Fraser played a second-rate Indiana Jones type, but there was nothing mediocre about it. film returns. In total, they grossed $416.4 million.

But the films were also Fraser’s physical loss and, indirectly, led to the collapse of his career. On the series’ third entry, “The Mummy: Tom of the Dragon Emperor,” in 2008, the star told GQ it was “put together with duct tape and ice.” He recalled “being really fetishistic and nerdy about ice packs…I was building myself an exoskeleton every day.”

Fraser made his bones in movies that required physical stamina, including the franchise
Fraser made his bones in films that required physical endurance, including “The Mummy” franchise.
©Universal/Courtesy Everett Col

But that only did so much to help ease the pain. “I needed a laminectomy. And the lower back [surgery] didn’t take, so they had to do it a year later,” he told GQ. Additional surgical work was performed on his knee, spine, and even his vocal cords.

Around 2015, he began a slow reinvention playing a 19th-century Texas Ranger in the History Channel series “Texas Rising.”

It was on the show that Fraser fell in love with a horse named Pecas., deciding to bring the animal home from the set in Mexico and keep it on a farm near his home. There, the actor fell in love with how Pecas connected with his now 19-year-old son Griffin, who is on the autism spectrum.

Fraser was seen vacationing with two of his sons in 2018.
Fraser seen vacationing with two of his sons in 2018.

“There’s something good going on between the two of them,” Fraser said. “Even though [Griffin] don’t ride it. Just give him a brush. The horse loves that, the repetitive motion that kids on the spectrum have that they love. And it works… “

While Fraser and Smith divorced in 2008, they remained close while raising their boys. “We’re best friends,” Smith told the Post.

Aronofsky said he spent 10 years looking for someone to don the chunky 60-pound suit required to star in ‘The Whale’. But then he saw a trailer for “Journey to the End of the Night,” a 2006 B-level crime movie starring Fraser.

The cast and crew of
The cast and crew of “The Whale,” including Fraser and Darren Aronofsky, received an extended standing ovation.
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As Aronofsky said at a press conference in Venice, “I asked Brendan to come meet me… It just kept clicking.”

These days, the same can be said of Fraser’s career. Although he had the misfortune of playing a starring role in the sidelined ‘Batgirl’ movie, there are high hopes for his portrayal of a lawyer in Martin Scorsese’s western, ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’. , slated for release in 2023.

As for where things go next for him. Fraser seemed optimistic in Venice. “My crystal ball is broken,” he told a news conference. “I don’t know if yours works. But meet me after the show and we’ll take a look together.

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