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


Things will not be over until the fat lady sings — but, for Brendan Fraser, playing a 600-pound man is an entire latest starting.

When the movie premiered on the 79th Venice International Film Festival on Sept. 4, audience members were so moved that they gave Fraser a six-minute-long standing ovation and brought the actor to tears. It’s been reported that he tried to depart the theater however the applause was so relentless that it appeared to physically freeze him in place. (The film shouldn’t be due in theaters until Dec. 9.)

Such adoration was a good distance from Fraser’s recent years of obscurity, living quietly at his Recent Bedford, Recent York horse farm. He has suffered excruciating pain and multiple surgeries deriving from stunts within the motion movies, like “The Mummy” franchise, that made him famous and, he has said, put him out and in of the hospital for seven years.

Fraser lives quietly on a horse farm in Recent Bedford, NY.Getty Images

He has three sons, Griffin, Holden and Leland (not pictured).He has three sons, Griffin, Holden and Leland (not pictured).Queensofthenorth/MEGA

In 2018, Fraser emerged to allege that, in 2003, he was sexually assaulted by Philip Berk, then the top of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. (Berk has called Fraser’s “version” of the story “a complete fabrication.”) The star told GQ that it led him to withdraw from the highlight: “I became depressed,” he said. “I used to be blaming myself and I used to be miserable.”

It even led to him wondering if he had been blacklisted by the HFPA, which oversees the Golden Globes, telling GQ he was rarely invited back to the awards ceremony within the years after. The group said it was unaware of the allegations before the GQ story, while Berk’s response was stinging: “His profession declined through no fault of ours.”

Fraser in
Fraser in “Encino Man” in 1992.

He starred in
Fraser starred in “Airheads” in 1994.

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

While Fraser has continued to make movies — mostly ones you’ve likely never heard of, like “Hair Brained” and “Furry Vengeance” — and TV (including a stint on “The Affair” back in 2016-2017), it’s been a far cry from cry from his glory days within the late Nineteen Nineties and early 2000s.

But his latest role in “The Whale,” directed by Oscar nominee Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan.” “The Wrestler”), should bring him back to the forefront. Critics have praised Fraser’s bravura portrayal of Charlie, an obese recluse confined to a wheelchair and struggling to reestablish ties together with his estranged daughter.

While starring as a Texas Ranger on the show While starring as a Texas Ranger on the show “Texas Rising,” Fraser developed a love for horses.Getty Images

“It’s an awesome example of somebody willing to play outside of his comfort zone after he had just about disappeared. It was not the sort of role that made him famous, but he’s not the hunky jock anymore,” a Hollywood insider told The Post, referring to movies like 1997’s “George of the Jungle,” for which a really buff Fraser wore little greater than a loincloth. “He’s shown 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 tweeted, “this makes me so pleased to see this beautiful ovation for Brendan.”

In In “The Whale,” Fraser plays a 600-pound man confined to a wheelchair.Courtesy Everett Collection

“The Whale” director Darren Aronofsky (left) looked for years for an actor before he had the concept to solid Fraser.Getty Images

Fraser’s recent accolades bring a smile to the face of Denise Tyrell, writer of “Brendan Fraser,” an unauthorized biography published in 2001. “I all the time thought he had chops,” Tyrell, now the co-founder of the theater company Too Soon Old Productions, told The Post. “He got in a groove of doing silly comedies, but I actually enjoyed his more serious work” — corresponding to “Gods and Monsters,” by which Fraser played the handsome, heterosexual gardener who was uncomfortably fawned over by a gay movie director in Nineteen Twenties England.

“Now his days of being a romantic leading man and jumping around mummies are over — and possibly that’s all for the most effective,” Tyrell added. “As evidenced by ‘The Whale,’ it’s time for Brendan Fraser to step in and do serious work.”

Fraser, here at the Venice Film Festival, is already being tipped as an Oscar contender for Fraser, here on the Venice Film Festival, is already being tipped as an Oscar contender for “The Whale.”Getty Images

The son of a Canadian foreign services officer, Fraser lived an itinerant childhood, traveling the world together with his family and bouncing through a string of prep schools. At one, he received a serious hazing.

“I used to be pulled from my bed after I was 13 and thrown within the trunk of a automotive, then tied to playground equipment with a pillowcase over my head. They ripped my pajama top off of me and tried to tear the underside off, but I kicked some guy in the top.” He recounted to Movieline magazine in 1999. “Firecrackers were thrown at me. Horrible. The automotive took off and I noticed I used to be tied up [outside of] the local girl’s school. Once I got loose, I ran back to the dormitory and, ah, the good guys, they gave me the home tie. I got made.”

One of Fraser's (right) earliest films was 1992's One in all Fraser’s (right) earliest movies was 1992’s “School Ties” with Matt Damon (left).©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Col

He landed his first film in 1991 — a small role in “Dogfight,” which starred River Phoenix. From there, he stepped as much as star within the silly but successful “Encino Man,” showed off his acting skills as a Jewish prep-school athlete in “School Ties,” and flew to box-office glory with “George of the Jungle.” His portrayal of a person raised by apes generate some $180 million on the box office.

Such was his fame that when he showed his skills opposite Ian McKellan in “Gods and Monsters,” in 1998, Stephen Baldwin jokingly referred to it as, “The thespian and the meathead.”

If Baldwin was jealous on the time, it was for good reason — Fraser enjoyed the sort of Tinseltown success that had eluded him. Fans were so obsessed that they really stalked Tyrell when her book got here out (“They hoped I could introduce them to Brendan”) and he dated his “George” co-star, Afton Smith. His profession was on an upward trajectory and he joked about him and Smith being “more into the collaborative technique of making children than within the result.” Nevertheless, after dating for six years, they married in ’98 and went on to have three children.

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

The subsequent logical step for the rising star was a movie franchise that spun off from “The Mummy,” which dropped in 1999. Fraser played a second-rate Indiana Jones type, but there was nothing second-rate in regards to the movies’ returns. All told, they grossed $416.4 million.

However the movies were also Fraser’s physical undoing and, not directly, led to the unraveling of his profession. By the third entry within the series, “The Mummy: Tom of the Dragon Emperor,” in 2008, the star told GQ, he was “put along with tape and ice.” He recalled “being really fetishy and nerdy about icepacks … I used to be constructing an exoskeleton for myself day by day.”

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

But that only did a lot to assist alleviate pain. “I needed a laminectomy. And the lumbar [surgery] didn’t take, in order that they needed to do it a 12 months later,” he told GQ. Additional surgical work was done on his knee, spine and even vocal cords.

Around 2015, he began a slow reinvention, playing a nineteenth century Texas Ranger within the History Channel series “Texas Rising.”

It was on the show that Fraser fell hard for a horse named Pecas., deciding to bring the animal home from the set in Mexico and keep him on a farm near his home. There, the actor fell in love with how Pecas connected together with his son Griffin, now 19, who’s on the autism spectrum.

Fraser was seen on vacation with two of his sons in 2018.Fraser seen on vacation with two of his sons in 2018.MEGA

“There’s something good that happens between the 2 of them,” Fraser has said. “Even when [Griffin] doesn’t ride him. Just give him a brush. The horse loves it, the repetitive motion that youngsters on the spectrum have that they love. And it just works … “

While Fraser and Smith divorced in 2008, they’ve remained close as they raise their boys. “We’re best friends,” Smith told The Post. 

Aronofsky has said that he spent 10 years on the lookout for anyone 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 B-level 2006 crime flick co-starring Fraser.

The cast and crew of The solid and crew of “The Whale,” including Fraser and Darren Aronofsky, received a chronic standing ovation.Getty Images

As Aronofsky said at a Venice press conference, “I asked Brendan to return meet me … It just kept clicking.”

As of late, the identical will be said for Fraser’s profession. Though he had the bad luck of playing a lead role within the shelved “Batgirl” movie, there are high hopes for his portrayal of a lawyer in Martin Scorsese’s Western, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” slated for a 2023 release.

As to where things are going next for him. Fraser sounded optimistic at Venice. “My crystal ball is broken,” he said at a press conference. “I don’t know if yours works. But meet me after the show and we’ll take a peek together.”

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