Brendan Fraser’s comeback after years of snubs in Hollywood

Things might not be over until The Fat Lady sings – but for Brendan Fraser, playing a 600-pound man is a whole new beginning.

When the film premiered at the 79th Venice International Film Festival on September 4, viewers were so moved they gave Fraser a standing ovation for six minutes and made the actor cry. It was reported that he tried to leave the theater, but the applause was so unrelenting that it seemed like he physically froze in place. (The film doesn’t hit theaters until December 9.)

Such worship was a far cry from Fraser’s final years of obscurity, when he lived quietly at his horse farm in New Bedford, New York. He’s endured excruciating pain and multiple surgeries stemming from stunts in action movies like The Mummy franchise, which made him famous and, he said, got him in and out of the hospital for seven years.

Fraser lives quietly on a horse farm in New Bedford, NY.
Fraser lives quietly on a horse farm in New Bedford, NY.
Getty Images
He has three sons, Griffin, Holden and Leland (not pictured).
He has three sons, Griffin, Holden and Leland (not pictured).
Queenssofthenorth/MEGA

In 2018, Fraser claimed he was sexually assaulted in 2003 by Philip Berk, then head of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. (Berk has called Fraser’s “version” of the story “a total fabrication.”) The star told GQ that that prompted him to withdraw from the spotlight: “I got depressed,” he said. “I blamed myself and was unhappy.”

It even led him to wonder if he’d been blacklisted by the HFPA, which oversees the Golden Globes, and told GQ he was rarely invited back to the awards ceremony in the years since. The group said they were unaware of the allegations prior to the GQ story, while Berk’s response was stinging, “His career was declining through no fault of ours.”

Frazer a "Encino man" 1992

Fraser in Encino Man in 1992.


He played along "air heads" 1994

Fraser starred in Airheads in 1994.


The actor joked he was "a walking steak" in the 1997s "George from the jungle."

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


While Fraser has continued to make films — mostly ones you’ve probably never heard of, like Hair Brained and Furry Vengeance — and television (including a stint on The Affair in 2016-2017), was it’s a far cry from its glory days in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

But his new role in The Whale, directed by Oscar-nominated Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Wrestler), should put him back on top. Critics have hailed Fraser’s bravura portrayal of Charlie, an obese, wheelchair-bound recluse struggling to reconnect with his estranged daughter.

While he acted as the Texas Ranger on the show "texas rising," Fraser developed a love for horses.
While appearing as the Texas Ranger on the show Texas Rising, Fraser developed a love for horses.
Getty Images

“It’s a great example of someone willing to play outside of their comfort zone after all but disappearing. It wasn’t the kind of role that made him famous, but he’s not the handsome jock anymore,” a Hollywood insider told the Post, referring to movies like 1997’s “George of the Jungle,” for which one very fit 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 opposite Fraser in 2001’s The Mummy Returns. “Men tweeted“It makes me so happy to see this beautiful ovation for Brendan.”

in the "The whale," Fraser plays a 600-pound man who is confined to a wheelchair.
In The Whale, Fraser plays a 600-pound man who is confined to a wheelchair.
Courtesy of the Everett Collection
"The whale" Director Darren Aronofsky (left) searched for an actor for years before he came up with the idea of ​​casting Fraser.
The Whale director Darren Aronofsky (left) spent years looking for an actor before he came up with the idea of ​​casting Fraser.
Getty Images

Fraser’s recent accolades bring a smile to the face of Denise Tyrell, author of Brendan Fraser, an unauthorized biography published in 2001. “I always thought he had talent,” Tyrell, now co-founder of theater company Too Soon Old Productions, told The Post. “He was into silly comedy, but I really enjoyed his more serious work” — like “Gods and Monsters,” in which Fraser played the handsome, straight gardener who was uncomfortably flattered by a gay film director in 1920s England.

“Now his days as a romantic lead and bouncing mummies are over — and maybe that’s for the best,” Tyrell added. “As ‘The Whale’ proves, it’s about time Brendan Fraser stepped in and did some serious work.”

Fraser, here at the Venice Film Festival, is already being considered an Oscar contender "The whale."
Fraser, here at the Venice Film Festival, is already being considered an Oscar contender for The Whale.
Getty Images

The son of a Canadian field service officer, Fraser lived a wandering childhood, traveling the world with his family and bouncing through a series of prep schools. At one he received a serious harassment.

“At 13, I was pulled from my bed and thrown into the trunk of a car, then tied to playground equipment with a pillowcase over my head. They ripped my pajama top off and tried to rip the bottom off, but I kicked a guy in the head.” In 1999, he told Movieline magazine, “They started throwing firecrackers at me. Terrible. The car pulled away and I realized I was tied up [outside of] the local girls school. When I got loose, I ran back to the dorm and, uh, the nice guys, they gave me the house tie. I was made.”

One of Fraser's (right) earliest films was in 1992 "school ties" with Matt Damon (left).
One of Fraser’s (right) earliest films was 1992’s School Ties, starring Matt Damon (left).
©Paramount/Courtesy of Everett Col

He landed his first film in 1991 – a small role in Dogfight, starring River Phoenix. From there he went on to star in the silly but successful Encino Man, showcased his acting skills as a Jewish preschool athlete in School Ties, and flew to box office fame with George of the Jungle. His portrayal of a man raised by apes grossed around $180 million at the box office.

Such was his reputation that when Stephen Baldwin showed off his skills to Ian McKellan in 1998’s Gods and Monsters, he jokingly referred to him as “Thespian and the Meathead.”

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

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

The next logical step for the rising star was a film franchise split off from The Mummy, which was canceled in 1999. Fraser played a second-rate Indiana Jones guy, but the return of the films wasn’t second-rate. All told, they grossed $416.4 million.

But the films were also Fraser’s physical undoing and indirectly led to the failure of his career. For the third entry in the series, The Mummy: Tom of the Dragon Emperor, in 2008, the star told GQ that it was “put together with duct tape and ice.” He recalled “being really fetish and nerdy about ice packs… I used to build an exoskeleton for myself on a daily basis.”

Fraser made his bones in films that required physical endurance, including The Mummy franchise.
Fraser made his bones in films that required physical endurance, including The Mummy franchise.
©Universal/Courtesy of Everett Col

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

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

It was on the show that Fraser fell madly in love with a horse named Pecas and decided to bring the animal home from the set in Mexico and keep it on a farm near his home. It was there that the actor fell in love with Pecas’ relationship with his son Griffin, now 19, who is on the autism spectrum.

Fraser was spotted on holiday with two of his sons in 2018.
Fraser was spotted on holiday with two of his sons in 2018.
MEGA

“Something good is happening between these two,” Fraser said. “Even if [Griffin] don’t ride him. Just give him a brush. The horse loves the repetitive movement that children on the spectrum have that they love. And it just works…”

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

Aronofsky has said he spent 10 years looking for someone to don the 60-pound fat suit required to star in The Whale. But then he happened to see a trailer for Journey to the End of the Night, a gritty 2006 B-level crime thriller starring Fraser.

cast and crew of "The whale," including Fraser (from far left) and Darren Aronofsky, received a prolonged standing ovation.
The cast and crew of The Whale, including Fraser and Darren Aronofsky, received a standing ovation.
Getty Images

As Aronofsky said at a press conference in Venice, “I asked Brendan to meet me… It just always clicked.”

The same can be said of Fraser’s career these days. Though he was unlucky enough to land a lead role in the stalled Batgirl movie, there are high hopes for his portrayal of a lawyer in Martin Scorsese’s western Killers of the Flower Moon, due out in 2023.

Where to go next for him. Fraser sounded upbeat in Venice. “My crystal ball is broken,” he said at a news conference. “I don’t know if yours will work. But meet me after the show and we’ll watch it together.”

https://nypost.com/2022/09/17/inside-brendan-frasers-comeback-after-years-of-hollywood-snubs/ Brendan Fraser’s comeback after years of snubs in Hollywood

Emma Bowman

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