Things can’t end 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 4 September, audiences became so emotional that they gave Fraser a six-minute standing ovation and the actor was in tears. It is reported that he tried to leave the theater but the applause was so loud that he seemed to have become physically immobile. (The film isn’t in theaters until December 9.)
Such adoration was a far cry from the obscurity of Fraser’s recent years, living quietly on his New Bedford, New York horse farm. He suffered excruciating pain and multiple surgeries from stunts in action films such as “The Mummy” franchise, which made him famous and, he said, kept him in and out of the hospital for seven years.
In 2018, Fraser alleged that, in 2003, she was sexually assaulted by Philip Burke, the head of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. (Burke called Fraser’s “version” of the story a “total creation.”) The star told GQ that it prompted him to step away from the spotlight: “I got depressed,” he said. “I was blaming myself and I was sad.”
It also made him wonder whether he had been blacklisted by the HFPA, which oversees the Golden Globes, telling GQ that he was rarely invited to awards ceremonies in his later years. The group said it was unaware of the allegations prior to the GQ story, while Burke’s response was stinging: “His career fell through no fault of ours.”
While Fraser has continued to make movies—mostly ones you’ve never heard of, like “Hair Braid” and “Furry Vengeance”—and TV (including a stint on “The Affair” in 2016-2017), it has been a is a far cry from his 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 to the forefront. Critics have praised Fraser’s brave portrayal of Charlie, an obese recluse confined to a wheelchair and struggling to re-establish a relationship with his estranged daughter.
“It’s a great example of what he’s willing to play out of his comfort zone when he’s pretty much disappeared. It wasn’t the kind of role that made him famous, but he’s no longer a hunky jock,” Hollywood A US insider told The Post, referring to films like 1997’s “George of the Jungle”, for which a very fond Fraser wore a bit more. 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 with Fraser in “The Mummy Returns.” “Dude,” he tweeted“It makes me so happy to see this beautiful ovation for Brendan.”
Fraser’s recent praise brings a smile to the face of Dennis Tyrell, author of “Brendan Fraser,” an unauthorized biography published in 2001. “I always thought he had the chops,” Tyrell, now co-founder of theater company Too Soon Old Productions, told The Post. “He got into a groove of doing silly comedies, but I really enjoyed his more serious work”—such as “Gods and Monsters,” in which Fraser played the handsome, heterosexual gardener who was brought up in the 1920s as a Gay was uncomfortably impressed by the film director. England.
“Now his days of being the romantic leading man and jumping around mummies are over — and maybe it’s all for the best,” Tyrell said. “As ‘The Whale’ shows, it’s time for Brendan Fraser to step up and get serious.”
The son of a Canadian Foreign Service officer, Fraser lived a traveling childhood, traveling the world with his family and bouncing through a string of prep schools. Once in a while, they got a serious haze.
“When I was 13 I was pulled from my bed and thrown into the trunk of a car, then tied to playground equipment with a pillow over my head. They put my pajamas over me Tore it off and tried to rip it from the bottom, but I kicked a boy in the head.” He told Movieline magazine in 1999. “Firecrackers were thrown at me. Terrifying. The car took off and I realized I was tied [outside of] Local Girls’ School. When I let loose, I ran back to the dorm and, ah, good guys, they gave me the house tie. I became.”
He played a small role in 1991 in his first film – “Dogfight”, starring River Phoenix. From there, he moved on to star in the silly but successful “Encino Man”, showcasing his acting skills as a Jewish pre-school athlete in “School Ties” and box-running with “George of the Jungle”. flew to office glory. His portrayal of a man raised by apes earned about $180 million at the box office.
Such was his reputation that when he showed off his skills opposite Ian McKellen in “Gods and Monsters” in 1998, Stephen Baldwin jokingly called it “The Thespian and the Meathead”.
If Baldwin was jealous at the time, it was for good reason—Fraser enjoyed the kind of success of Tinseltown that he didn’t. Fans were so obsessed that she actually followed Tyrell when her book came out (“He hoped I could introduce him to Brendan”) and he dated his “George” co-star, Afton Smith. His career was on an upward trajectory and he joked about him and Smith that “more in the collaborative process of making children than in the result.” Nevertheless, after dating for six years, they married in ’98 and had three children.
The next logical step for the rising star was a film franchise that split with “The Mummy” in 1999. Fraser had played a second-rate Indiana Jones type of role, but there was nothing second to the film’s return. All told, he grossed $416.4 million.
But the movies were also Fraser’s physical undoing and, indirectly, caused his career to unravel. The third entry in the series, “The Mummy: Tom of the Dragon Emperor”, in 2008, Starr told GQ, was “kept with tape and ice.” He recalled “the thing about icepack being really aphrodisiac and nerdy… I was building an exoskeleton for myself every day.”
But it did only so much to help ease the pain. “I needed a laminectomy. And the lumbar [surgery] So he had to do it a year later,” he told GQ. Additional surgical work was done on his knee, spine and even vocal cord.
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, working hard for a horse named Pecas, decided to bring the animal home from set in Mexico and keep it on a farm near his home. There, the actor fell in love with how Pecas connected with his son, Griffin, now 19, who is on the autism spectrum.
“Something good happens between them,” Fraser has said. “even though [Griffin] doesn’t ride it. Just give him a brush. The horse loves it, the repetitive motions that kids on the spectrum have that they love. And it just works…”
While Fraser and Smith divorced in 2008, they remained close while raising their boys. “We are best friends,” Smith told The Post.
Aronofsky has said that he spent 10 years looking for someone to don the 60-pound fat suit he needed to star in “The Whale.” But then he got to see the trailer for “Journey to the End of the Night,” a 2006 B-level crime flick co-starring Fraser.
As Aronofsky said at the Venice press conference, “I asked Brendan to come visit me… it just kept clicking.”
The same can be said of Fraser’s career these days. Although she had the misfortune of playing the lead role in the postponed “Batgirl” film, there are high hopes for her portrayal of a lawyer in Martin Scorsese’s western, “Killers of the Flower Moon”, slated for a 2023 release.
Where are things going for him next? Fraser seemed optimistic in Venice. “My crystal ball is broken,” he said at a news conference. “I don’t know if yours works. But meet me after the show and we’ll have a peek together.