So, what happened to Brendan Fraser? In the early 1990s, the affably hunky actor starred in both quirky comedies like Encino Man and heavy dramas like School Ties. By the late ’90s, Fraser turned to the blockbuster with the action-packed adventure The Mummy. It appeared as if Brendan Fraser was set for superstardom, but then a funny thing happened. His projects began flopping.
In the mid-2000s, after disappointing box office returns and critical pans for Journey to the End of the Night and The Last Time, Fraser seemed destined to join the long list of leading men who vanished from the spotlight. But in 2017, his head-turning portrayal of a menacing prison guard in Showtime’s drama The Affair had audiences remembering one of Hollywood’s erstwhile leading men.
Fraser has largely remained out of the spotlight for a majority of his career. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few crazy Brendan Fraser stories out there. Learn about his acting debut on one of America’s first reality TV programs, which acclaimed British actor wishes he could be as talented as him, and more fun Brendan Fraser facts in this list.
He Almost Died While Making ‘The Mummy’
Fraser’s biggest role is arguably Rick O’Connell, the dashing protagonist of The Mummy – but he nearly choked to death filming the movie. During an early scene in the film, O’Connell is set for execution by hanging. However, the scene went horribly wrong. Fraser said of the experience, “They killed me for 18 seconds.”
“I was hanging from the noose standing on a board,” Fraser recalled. “Take one, and [the writer-director] said, ‘The noose doesn’t match the stunt guys.’ Can we bring up the tension a little bit, and we’ll have it.’ They did the take and the camera was on a spin that goes 180 degrees and it shows the prisoners shouting, and then comes down on me at the end of the noose. I figured, ‘I’ll get oxygen and hold my breath,’ and I was up on my toes and something went wrong – and the next thing I knew, I was waking up.”
He Claims He Was Groped By A Former HFPA President
Brendan Fraser shared a painful story with GQ in an interview published in February 2018. In 2003, he was invited to a luncheon hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the group that hosts the Golden Globes. There, Fraser ran into Philip Berk, the HFPA’s former president.
According to Fraser, Berk grabbed his backside and groped him between the legs. Berk claimed he merely pinched him as a joke. Shocked, he asked for a formal apology. After the incident, Fraser said he was rarely invited back to the Golden Globes, and wondered if the HFPA edged him out deliberately.
Sir Ian McKellen Wishes He Could Act As Well As Him
You might not think of Brendan Fraser as a serious actor, especially with credits that include Airheadsand George of the Jungle. But at least one very serious actor, Sir Ian McKellen, believes in Fraser’s skills as a thespian. McKellen has commented that he wished he could one day be as good of an actor as Brendan Fraser. The duo appeared together in the 1998 drama Gods and Monsters.
His Fans Started A Change.org Petition On His Behalf
Fraser made a 2016 appearance on AOL Build Series to discuss his new role in Showtime’s drama The Affair. Fans took notice, and the appearance went viral because the actor appeared so sad (he was grieving his mother, who had just died of cancer). In response, they collectively organized a Change.org petition called “Bring Brendan Fraser Back Into Film/Television.”
The petition read:
“We are now calling on all networks to please consider Brendan for any upcoming shows/movies that are planned. Brendan is a much loved actor worldwide, people are shocked that he wasn’t at least offered a smaller role in the new Mummy movie. Brendan has been in multiple interviews recently and has appeared to be very down and out, and us loyal fans feel like we are obliged to help him in any way possible. Please help us get Brendan back on his feet again, we miss him.”
The petition was addressed to Netflix, HBO, Showtime, Starz, and Reed Hastings in an effort to drum up interest in the actor’s talent and hopefully secure him some future acting work.
He Made His Acting Debut On ‘America’s Most Wanted’
The long-running reality series America’s Most Wanted features reenactments of crimes portrayed by actors. Brendan Fraser got his first acting gig on the show in 1988, playing a friend of murder victim Rodney Mark Peterson.
He’s An Acclaimed Stage Actor
In 2001, Fraser took to the London stage in a West End production of Tennessee Williams’s play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Fraser played the role of Brick, a former professional football player turned alcoholic. The Encino Man actor joined castmates Ned Beatty and Frances O’Connor in the staging directed by Anthony Page.
Fraser earned rave reviews for his portrayal of Brick. In Lizzie Loveridge’s review in A Curtain Up, she wrote, “Brendan Fraser does not just give a good performance, he is remarkable. He gets progressively more stupefied as he uses alcohol to cut the pain and detach himself from the memory of his best friend, his family, his wife and the issue of the inheritance. In the first act, as we see him tanned and athletic we can understand Maggie’s desire not just to provide Big Daddy with an heir but to share his bed.”
He Passed On A Huge Comeback
After a string of box office flops that included Blast from the Past (1999), Dudley Do-Right (1999), and Monkeybone (2001), Fraser had a chance to make a comeback in the movie biz with the potential new franchise Journey to the Center of the Earth. However, the first film’s director, Eric Brevig, was unavailable for the sequel. Out of loyalty to Brevig, Fraser refused to sign onto Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012).
It turns out the studio did not mind moving on without Fraser either. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was brought in to take Brendan’s place, and the family-friendly sequel wound up being a big hit. In fact, two more films are already scheduled for production with Johnson attached to star in both.
He’s The First American-Born Actor To Be Inducted Into Canada’s Walk Of Fame
Brendan Fraser was born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1968. Both of his parents were Canadian-born. His father was a journalist and a foreign service officer for the Canadian Government of Tourism, so that meant that Brendan moved around a lot as a child, making stops in places like Eureka, California and abroad in the Netherlands.
Fraser carries both an American passport and a Canadian passport, which was enough to earn the actor a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2006. The honor made him the first American-born actor to ever receive a Canadian Star.
Tom Cruise Replaced Him In ‘The Mummy’ Franchise
The Mummy came out in 1999, and was a surprise hit – it grossed over $400 million worldwide. A sequel starring Fraser, The Mummy Returns, quickly followed in 2001, which also grossed over $400 million globally. The franchise expanded to include the 2002 prequel The Scorpion King, starring Dwayne Johnson. In 2008, Fraser returned for The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor – it was another global hit but only grossed a little over $100 million domestically.
The studio began looking for a way to reinvigorate the franchise, and Tom Cruise was brought in to replace Fraser. The latest installment, which is considered a reboot, is simply called The Mummy, and is intended to launch a Universal Monsters shared universe. Sadly, Fraser likely won’t be along for the ride.
He’s An Accomplished Photographer
Fraser is an accomplished amateur photographer. During his stint as a guest performer on the sitcom Scrubs, Fraser’s character carried an Instant Polaroid camera everywhere and constantly snapped photos. He actually collects those old Polaroid cameras and admits to being a “camera geek” in his personal life. His photography can be viewed on his personal website.
He’s Fluent In French
The actor speaks French fluently. He used his language skills for the romantic comedy Blast from the Past, where he starred opposite Alicia Silverstone. In the 1999 film, Fraser plays a man who re-enters the world after living in a nuclear fallout shelter for 35 years.
He’s Coming Back To Hollywood And Bollywood
After Fraser played against type as a trouble-making prison guard in The Affair, audiences seem to be remembering his former star power. He’ll appear as a villainous, ex-pat gun runner in the Bollywood mafia indie The Field. He is also set to star in the semi-autobiographical film Behind the Curtain of Night, a story about reincarnation and what may happen after a person dies.
He Was Terrified To Punch Bill Goldberg On Film
At 6′ 4″ and 266 pounds, former professional WWE wrestler Bill Goldberg is a formidable presence. During a scene for Looney Tunes: Back In Action (2003), Fraser’s character is supposed to hit Goldberg’s character. Fraser was reportedly terrified to punch the former professional wrestler. In fact, Goldberg had to reassure Fraser by continually telling him, “It’s what I do for a living.”
He Admits To Being Boring
Fraser may play a lot of goofy, hyperactive characters on the big screen, but the actor says he lives a pretty boring life. He was in the tabloids following his divorce and for the subsequent fallout. However, Fraser has more or less been able to stay out of the Hollywood scandal reports.
During a 2008 interview with The Guardian, Fraser admits, “I’m very boring… People don’t like me, they like the movies. Me personally? Yawn. You do a movie, Hollywood loves you for a while. They love you, they love you, they love you until – oh, they love someone else now.”
He Hurt His Back Badly During Hurricane Sandy
In 2013, Brendan Fraser became a hot topic for gossip columnists as he became embroiled in a protracted legal battle with his ex-wife, Afton Smith, because he claimed he needed to lower his monthly alimony payments. The reason for this? Apparently Fraser suffered a debilitating back injury at his home during Hurricane Sandy. And, while the details of exactly what constituted that injury remain unknown, Fraser did have to get surgery on his back to repair it, and all of this became expensive.
Because of the extremity of the injury and the amount of rehabilitation it took to get him back in action, doctors recommend that Fraser no longer do his own stunts.
He Plead ‘Poverty’ To Avoid Alimony Payments
In 2013, Brendan Fraser’s ex-wife, Afton Smith, took the actor to court, arguing that he was being disingenuous in his claims that he needed to reduce her spousal support payments. Afton – who had been receiving $50,000 a month in payments from the actor – claimed that the actor was lying about his need to reduce the payments because of a lack of gainful employment. She believed his $25 million net worth was more than enough to cover the costs initially agreed to in their divorce settlement.