The Culture Joint

What Happened to Brendan Fraser? He Feels ‘Affirmed’ By His Return to Hollywood With ‘The Whale’


He was one of the hottest stars in the early to late 90s but disappeared from the spotlight in 2008. Now that he’s making a triumphant return to the screen, you might be wondering what happened to Brendan Fraser.

Most millennials will have seen a movie starring this 6′ 2″ Canadian-American. He got his big break in 1992 with the movie School Ties opposite Matt Damon and Chris O’Donnell. Then, The Mummy franchise, beginning in 1999, would make him a bona fide action star. But in the mid-aughts, Fraser mysteriously disappeared.

Some two decades later, he returned to Hollywood in Darren Aronofsky’s latest film, The Whale, which was released in cinemas on December 9, 2022. The film has generated plenty of awards season buzz, particularly for Fraser’s performance as the lead character, Charlie.

While speaking with StyleCaster at the New York premiere of The Whale in late November 2022, Fraser said he felt “affirmed” by the fact that all of Hollywood was rallying around the Brenaissance. “I feel a lot more comfortable in my skin than I once was 20 years ago, but I don’t know a single actor alive who isn’t just grateful to have a job, so I hope I never lose sight of that,” he said. “I really want to work on projects that I feel I could still learn something from the people that I’m working with.”

What happened to Brendan Fraser?

What happened to Brendan Fraser? It’s believed Fraser was blacklisted by Hollywood because he claimed he’d been sexually abused by the former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), Phillip Berk. In his memoir, With Signs and Wonders, Berk recounted he’d pinched Fraser’s ass, but in a GQ article from 2018, Fraser recalled it was much more than that.

“His left-hand reaches around, grabs my ass cheek, and one of his fingers touches me in the taint.

And he starts moving it around,” he described, having never spoken about the incident publicly until then “for risk of humiliation, or damage to” his career. Eventually, he was able to remove Berk’s hand. “I felt ill. I felt like a little kid. I felt like there was a ball in my throat. I thought I was going to cry,” he said.

Fraser’s reps asked the HFPA for a written apology, but Berk “admitted no wrongdoing” and said Fraser’s account was a “complete fabrication.” The actor told GQ the incident made him “retreat” and “feel reclusive”. He became “depressed” and wondered if the HFPA had blacklisted him. “I don’t know if this curried disfavor with the group, with the HFPA. But the silence was deafening,” he said, adding that he was rarely invited back to the Golden Globes after 2003. His career deteriorated, his marriage broke down and Fraser faded into obscurity.

That is until director Darren Aronofsky resurrected his career with The Whale, which is based on the play by Samuel D. Hunter of the same name. Although he said in an interview with Variety, Fraser wasn’t exactly his first choice because. Because the character of Charlie is a 600 lbs. man, the Requiem for a Dream director initially researched actors with obesity. “There was a chapter in the making of this film where we tried to research actors with obesity,” says Aronofsky. “Outside of not being able to find an actor who could pull off the emotions of the role, it just becomes a crazy chase. Like, if you can’t find a 600-pound actor, is a 300-pound actor or 400-pound actor enough?”

But after seeing Fraser in a trailer for a “low-budget Brazilian movie” the acclaimed director had the idea of meeting with him for the role and their chemistry was almost instantaneous. “As soon as he left my office after our first meeting, I felt it,” Aronofsky told Variety. “I knew he could play someone who most people would start off by dismissing, but within five minutes they’d start to feel something for him. Then, within 20 minutes, they’re starting to fall in love with the character, because there’s just something about Brendan. Pretty soon, he starts to break your heart.”

When the film screened at the Venice Film Festival in September 2022, Fraser received a six-minute standing ovation which left him visibly emotional. He quickly generated Oscar’s buzz for his sensitive portrayal of Charlie—a gay man who tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter while suffering a myriad of health problems due to his morbid obesity.

The film is sensitive to the challenges facing people with obesity but admittedly uncomfortable to watch at times, as Fraser, transformed by up to 300 lbs. of prosthetics, labors to perform the simplest of tasks like getting up off the sofa. “We felt an obligation to ensure that it was cumbersome. It was accurate, that was what we strived for,” he said at the New York premiere.

After the 2018 article ran in GQ, the HFPA issued a statement in response, posting to Twitter at the time: “The HFPA stands firmly against sexual harassment and the type of behavior described in this article,” the HFPA said in a statement published on Twitter. “Over the years we’ve continued a positive working relationship with Brendan, which includes announcing Golden Globe nominees, attending the ceremony and participating in press conferences. This report includes alleged information that the HFPA was previously unaware of and at this time we are investigating further details surrounding the incident.”

For all the 2023 awards season buzz, Fraser announced he would not be attending the Golden Globes, even if he’s nominated because of his history with the HFPA.

“I have more history with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association than I have respect for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association,” Fraser told GQ in November 2022 cover story. In answer to the question as to whether he would attend, he replied, “No, I will not participate.” He added: “It’s because of the history that I have with them,” he added. “And my mother didn’t raise a hypocrite. You can call me a lot of things, but not that.

Despite a reinvigorated career, and landing a role in Martin Scorsese’s period drama Killers Of The Flower Moon alongside Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, Fraser admits he still suffers from imposter syndrome. “I’m never gonna get that comfortable,” he told NME on February 2, 2023. “And when I do that, I think it’s time to rethink my approach because I’m always… I can’t get rid of the feeling that someone’s gonna walk in the room and tell me that I’m a fraud, or that I have impostor syndrome. They’re gonna hand me a dish-towel and I’ll have to go get back to work. But I hope I never lose that. In a way. Because I’m still not done proving myself yet. And to do that, I need bigger and greater challenges.”

He’s also very grateful for the support he’s received. In an interview with Howard Stern, the actor said: “There are many people that I have to thank for bringing me to the place that I find myself in now. It’s been a circuitous path that I followed – ups and downs and everything’s been on the ascendency,” Brendan said. “But at the same time, you’re only as good as the people you work with and I would be remiss to not acknowledge who they are.”

What is Brendan Fraser’s net worth?

Brendan Fraser’s net worth is estimated to be $20 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. As mentioned, there was a time when Fraser was among the hottest, most in-demand stars in the business. His breakout role came in 1992 with School Ties and just two years later, for the film The Scout, he was already on his way to earning a decent paycheck with a salary of $1.4 million.

His first true box office success was in 1997 as George in George of the Jungle opposite Leslie Mann. The comedy, based on a cartoon series, about a less-than-gracious parody of Tarzan, took in $108 million. Fraser recalled how he achieved his character’s lithe physique, telling Adam Sandler during Variety’s Actors on Actors video series: “[I was] waxed, greased, starved of carbohydrates” he said. “I would drive home after work and stop to get something to eat. I needed some cash one day, and I went to the ATM, and I couldn’t remember my PIN number because my brain was misfiring. Banging on the thing. I didn’t eat that night.”

Two years later would be Fraser’s most lucrative films. The Mummy, released in 1999, grossed $416 million at the box office. He was paid a reported $4 million for the first film, but earned considerably more for the Mummy sequels, The Mummy Returns (2001) and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), which grossed $435 million and $403.4 million respectively and his paychecks were $10 and $14 million. He also would have received a percentage of the box office royalties. Fraser also earned $10 million in 2000 for his role in Bedazzled.2


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