The Brenaissance: Brendan Fraser’s Return to the Spotlight

By Kendall McElroy

Brendan Fraser dominated the heart’s of cinema-goers throughout the 90’s in classics such as George of the Jungle and The Mummy trilogy. His face, once a staple in the minds of film-enjoyers, soon faded into the background, with many not even realizing he had left before his lackluster return as a supporting character of premium cable show, The Affair

From Fraser’s perspective, his hiatus stemmed from a multitude of factors. Firstly being the stress of aging in an industry such as Hollywood. In his own words, there is difficulty “growing older in an industry that idealizes an archetype of an actor to play heroic roles.” This then leads into the physical toll that comes along with being an action film star, including a partial knee replacement before his 30’s. Lastly, the alleged blacklisting following his accusations in 2018, namely that the former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Philip Berk, had made unwanted sexual advances toward him at an organizational event approximately 15 years before. As Fraser explains, “I mean, I don’t know how to authenticate that. But the feeling of the phone not ringing… The silence is deafening.”

The silence would not continue much longer. Fraser recalls director Darren Aronofsky’s offer for him to star in The Whale as Charlie, a reclusive English teacher, severely encumbered by obesity and slowly succumbing to its effects. As the time he has left shrinks, Charlie attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughter (portrayed by Sadie Sink). The Whale has been marketed as Fraser’s comeback to the spotlight, which can, in some ways, be inconsiderate of the sparse jobs he’s taken up over the last five years. However Fraser insists the term does not bother him, saying: “If anything, this is a reintroduction more than a comeback, it’s an opportunity to reintroduce myself to an industry, who I do not believe forgot me as is being perpetrated. I’ve just never been that far away.”

Following the Venice Film Festival, Fraser’s performance has been highly esteemed, furthermore showing characteristics of a potential Oscar nominee: a physical transformation, referring to the over 100lb bodysuit prosthetic Fraser donned, and a comeback narrative, playing into Fraser’s rebirth as a leading man. 

Fraser admits, “I don’t have anything lined up right now,” preferring to focus all his attention on The Whale, which was released December 9th of last year. Whisperings of this being just the beginning of a “Brenaissance” and the return of beloved actor, Brendan Fraser.

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