In the ’90s and early 2000s, it was impossible to not know who Brendan Fraser was. Making his film debut in Dogfight in 1991, Fraser has starred in multiple hit films, including George of the Jungle, and his biggest role was American adventurer Rick O’Connell in The Mummy and its sequel The Mummy Returns.
With a career spanning over 30 years, the beloved actor seemingly fell off the radar after 2008. While still taking on smaller roles in film and television, it seemed as though his star power was fading and people began to ask “what happened to Brendan Fraser?”
The movie star saw large success for over 20 years, but by 2008 Fraser said he started having multiple surgeries, due to doing his own stunts for years.
That, along with his divorce in 2008, Fraser slowly slipped away from the spotlight until 2016, when he conducted an interview with AOL’s BUILD series where he went viral for his seemingly frail appearance. It was later revealed that his mother had died a few days before the interview.
In a 2018 interview with GQ, Fraser claimed the former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Associate (HFPA) Philip Berk sexually assaulted him at a luncheon in 2003. After telling his wife, he said he felt like he didn’t have the courage to speak up and subsequently became depressed and reclusive. He said he felt the HFPA blacklisted him following the incident. That same year, he began booking smaller television roles, and did so until his casting in the 2021 film Batgirl , which was later cancelled.
In January 2021, Fraser was cast as the lead in Daren Aronofsky’s film The Whale, making it his first leading role since 2013. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival and later at The Toronto International Film Festival. His portrayal of a 600-lb teacher who struggles to connect with his daughter saw Fraser receive a six-minute standing ovation in Venice, win the award for best actor at TIFF’s Tribute Awards, and receive another five-minute standing ovation at the London Film Festival.
“This movie, The Whale, is about love. It’s about redemption. It’s about finding the light in a dark place,’ he said.
After skipping the Golden Globes following his history with the HFPA ( he received a nomination for best actor in a drama or motion picture), Fraser continued his redemption story by winning best actor at the Critics Choice Awards and inspired everyone with his speech.
If you – like a guy like Charlie, who I played in this movie – in any way struggle with obesity, or you just feel like you’re in a dark sea, I want you to know that if you too can have the strength to just get to your feet and go to the light, good things will happen.”
If anyone deserves good things to happen, it’s Brendan Fraser.
The Whale is in theatres now.
(Photo caption: Courtesy-Flickr/ Neil Grabowsky)