Brendan Fraser’s Story Proves You Can Step Away From the Cameras and Still Be Loved by Fans
Brendan Fraser is an actor who starred in several Hollywood films in the 1990s and 2000s. He was young, handsome, and talented, so much so that he could easily pivot from comedy and drama roles. Back in the day, he was thought of as a performer with a promising career in Hollywood. However, at the peak of his career, Fraser disappeared from the big screen, leaving us all with one big question: what happened?
Now I’ve Seen Everything was curious enough to do some research to try and answer this question. Here’s what has happened to Fraser over the years.
Brendan James Fraser was born in the United States. His mother worked as a sales counselor and his father was a former journalist who worked as a Canadian foreign service officer for the Government Office of Tourism. Brendan graduated from the Cornish College of the Arts in 1990 and then moved to Hollywood. Before beginning his acting career, he held several jobs, including juggling in a shopping mall.
The first film Fraser starred in was Encino Man. It follows the adventures of an unfrozen Neanderthal that suddenly appears in Los Angeles in the 1990s. Many critics called the comedy a “silly” one, and the film’s ratings were fairly low. Several major roles in not-so-popular films followed, like School Ties, Airheads, and The Passion of Darkly Noon.
Fame knocked at his door when he was 28. It was 1997, and George of the Jungle had just been released. The adventures of a man who grew up in the jungle, who deftly “flies” from branch to branch, and who befriends a talking gorilla, captivated viewers from around the world. But most importantly, it grossed $174 million.
“I look at me, and all I see is a walking steak,” Brendan said, joking about the athletic shape he acquired specifically for the start of the filming. He followed a strict diet, along with a one-hour-a-day workout program for 6 months.
The actor performed all the stunts in the film himself, “Once I was lifted to a height of 18 meters, from where I had to descend at a speed of 48 km / h.” He did suffer from injuries in the process.
Other films he starred in received mixed reviews. A good example of that is Blast from the Past, which nevertheless remains one of his fans’ favorite films. In any case, Fraser’s acting talent was a trademark of his work. For example, after the release of the film Gods and Monsters, one critic said, “He’s not famous, but he’s outstanding.”
Brendan’s prime came in 1999 when Stephen Sommers cast him to star in The Mummy. Initially, the role was offered to Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck, but when the director and producer saw George of the Jungle, they had no doubt that Brendan Fraser was the best fit for the role. Filming took place in Morocco and the Sahara Desert, where sandstorms, unbearable heat, and poisonous snakes interfered with the crew’s work.
But as you know, the film became a hit, and it is considered the top blockbuster of 1999 today. Critics point out that the hero, played by Brendan Fraser, is actually ahead of his time: he is not a typical tough guy who wants to prove he’s too cool for school. Instead, he’s a lively person with real emotions and he also does not try to overshadow Rachel Weisz’s character.
Almost immediately after the release of The Mummy, several films with Brendan in the lead roles followed. A straightforward comedy about a good cop, Dudley Do-Right, received a lot of negative reviews from critics and only brought financial losses to producers.
Then came Bedazzled (2000), a comedy about a man who made a deal with the devil to charm the woman of his dreams. Despite a good box office run, the movie received mixed reviews. And in early 2001, the fantasy comedy Monkeybone was a complete flop: with a budget of $75 million, it grossed $7 million worldwide.
2001 also saw the release of the film The Mummy Returns, which received mixed reviews, but grossed well. After that, several films that did not live up to their budget were released. These included the 2003 film Looney Tunes: Back in Action, where Brendan starred alongside cartoons. And the drama, The Air I Breathe, also received mostly negative reviews.
“But I felt like the horse from Animal Farm, whose job it was to work and work and work. Orwell wrote a character who was, I think, the proletariat. He worked for the good of the whole, he didn’t ask questions, he didn’t make trouble, until it killed him... I don’t know if I’ve been sent to the glue factory, but I’ve felt like I’ve had to rebuild shit that I’ve built that got knocked down and do it again for the good of everyone. Whether it hurts you or not,” the actor recalls.
At the same time, an unpleasant incident occurred: Brendan upset an influential person and his Hollywood career began to decline. According to the actor, he suffered from depression and decided to temporarily leave the industry.
His personal life wasn’t great either. He met his future wife, actress Afton Smith, in the summer of 1993 at a party at Winona Ryder’s house. They married in 1998, and during their more than 9 years of marriage, the couple had 3 children: Griffin, Holden, and Leland. In an interview, the couple revealed that their oldest son, Griffin, was diagnosed with autism.
In 2007, Brendan and Afton announced their divorce. As of late, the children live with their mother, but the actor spends most of his free time with them. At his home in Bedford, he has a horse named Pecas, who helps his son Griffin feel better.
In the late 2000s, the actor tried to give a second chance to his successful film career. Filming had begun on The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. The film’s plot was centered on Brendan’s character, his wife, and their grown son. Because the actor performed his own stunts in the films, he sustained some serious injuries. During filming, ice packs were placed under his clothes to alleviate the pain. Brendan was in and out of hospitals for 7 years, where he underwent one operation after another: knee, vocal cord, and spinal surgery. All of this, in the future, would lead him to gain weight.
And although the film did well at the box office, critics and viewers did not like it as much as the previous ones. Rachel Weisz, who played the main character, was replaced by another actress. The location was moved from Egypt to China, the atmosphere changed dramatically and the audience received a completely different movie. As a result, the fourth part, which was scheduled for production immediately after the completion of the third, was cancelled, and, instead, work began on a new version with Tom Cruise in the lead role.
The same fate awaited another hit starring Brendan. The film Journey to the Center of the Earth grossed over $200 million and the producers wanted to film a sequel. But the film’s director was busy with another project, and Fraser said he only wanted to work with him. As a result, Dwayne Johnson played the lead role in the next part.
Since then, Brendan could only be seen in unpopular TV series and low-budget movies, often not even in the leading roles.
At the end of 2021, Brendan Fraser turned 52 and has several film releases scheduled at the same time, including the western thriller Killers of the Flower Moon. “I’m going to be working with Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Robert De Niro. I’m a little nervous about that,” Fraser shared in a recent TikTok video interview. And when the interviewer told him that a lot of people support him, the actor paused and got touchingly coy.
His reappearance has brought a lot of interest on social media: “Brendan Fraser really let himself go after George Of The Jungle,” speculated Twitter users. In any case, shooting for a new film by director Darren Aronofsky called The Whale is currently underway. Brendan will actually play the lead role there. In it, the hero, who weighs 272 kg, tries to improve his relationship with his 17-year-old daughter.
Today, fans and viewers, who remember Brendan Fraser’s films from his youth, support the actor in every possible way on social media and hope he can quickly revive his career.
What is your favorite film starring Fraser? What other actors do you think deserve more recognition?