kids

From rising star to Hollywood's 'blacklist': The derailing of Brendan Fraser's career.

This post deals with sexual assault and might be triggering for some readers.

At the height of the late 1990s and the early 2000s, Brendan Fraser was one of the most recognisable faces in Hollywood.

The actor, who shot to fame with the 1997 comedy film George of the Jungle, was best known for his roles in The Mummy franchise, Crash, and Gods and Monsters.

But within just years of his career skyrocketing, the now 51-year-old appeared to largely fade away from the spotlight.

Want a nostalgia hit? Watch the trailer for The Mummy. Post continues below.


Video via Universal Pictures.

Fraser – the youngest of four boys – was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, to two Canadians.

As a child, Fraser moved around a lot, living in Switzerland, the Netherlands, California, Ottawa and Seattle, before graduating high school in 1990.

Although Fraser initially began acting at a small college in New York City after high school, he soon moved to Hollywood, where he decided to pursue a career in film.

By 1992, the actor had landed his first leading role in the comedy film Encino Man, which is now considered a cult classic.

In the following years, Fraser appeared in a number of small roles in films such as School Ties, The Scout, With Honors and Airheads.

But it was his leading role in the 1997 film George of the Jungle which would secure Fraser's "rising star" status.

Then, in 1999, came the adventure fantasy film The Mummy.

The film quickly became the actor's first major box office success, making $416 million from an $80 million budget.

Brendan Fraser in The Mummy franchise. Image: IMDb.

ADVERTISEMENT

Almost immediately, work began on a sequel and in 2001, The Mummy Returns was released, making $443 million globally. The actor later returned to his role as Rick O'Connell in 2008 for The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, which made over $400 million.

But as The Mummy franchise dominated the box office, Fraser's other roles weren't quite as successful.

While Fraser proved himself as a talented actor in Gods and Monsters and the Oscar-winning Crash, a number of films that he starred in, including Monkeybone, Blast from the Past, Bedazzled, and Dudley Do-Right, ultimately failed at the box office.

Behind the scenes, Fraser was also struggling with the physical demands of his film roles.

In a 2018 interview with GQ, the actor opened up about the struggle to maintain his "hunky" body.

"I believe I probably was trying too hard, in a way that's destructive," he recalled.

As a result, his body was virtually falling apart.

"By the time I did the third Mummy, I was put together with tape and ice - just, like, really nerdy and fetishy about ice packs. Screw-cap ice packs and downhill-mountain-biking pads, 'cause they're small and light and they can fit under your clothes. I was building an exoskeleton for myself daily," he recalled.

Brendan Fraser in George of the Jungle. Image: IMDb.

ADVERTISEMENT

For almost seven years, the actor was in and out of hospital undergoing multiple surgeries including a partial knee replacement, back surgery, and vocal cord surgery.

As a result of Fraser's medical woes, the actor's career plummeted after 2010, leading him to take on mostly minor roles and a number of guest appearances on TV shows.

But speaking to GQ in 2018, Fraser opened up about another hardship that had kept him out of the public eye.

In the lengthy profile, Fraser came forward with allegations of sexual assault by a former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. 

The Mummy star alleged that the HFPA’s Philip Berk assaulted him at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2003.

"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," the actor said.

Berk recounted the incident in his memoir With Signs and Wonders, but said he pinched Fraser’s behind as a joke. According to Fraser, though, it wasn’t a joke, and he was overcome with fear and had to remove Berk’s hand.

Listen to Mamamia's daily entertainment podcast, The Spill, below. Post continues after podcast.

"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.

He added that he was afraid to go public with the incident as, "I didn’t want to contend with how that made me feel, or it becoming part of my narrative".

It was an experience which, he says, "made me retreat. It made me reclusive".

"I became depressed. I was blaming myself and I was miserable," he added.

Berk denied the claim in an email to GQ, saying "Mr Fraser’s version is a total fabrication."

But Fraser questioned whether the HPFA 'blacklisted' him as he was rarely invited back to the Golden Globes, which the HFPA hosts, after the incident occurred in 2003.

"I don't know if this curried disfavour with the group, with the HFPA. But the silence was deafening," Fraser said.

"The phone does stop ringing in your career, and you start asking yourself why. There's many reasons, but was this one of them? I think it was."

Brendan Fraser and Afton Smith in 2005. Image: Getty.

ADVERTISEMENT

The alleged assault coupled with Fraser's subsequent divorce launched Fraser into a depression.

In 1993, Fraser met Afton Smith at a barbeque at Winona Ryder's house.

After dating for several years, the couple married on September 27, 1998, before having three sons, Griffin in 2002, Holden in 2004, and Leland in 2006.

In 2007, however, the couple filed for divorce after nine years together.

"They continue to maintain a close and caring friendship," Fraser's rep said in a statement.

In 2013, the actor petitioned the courts for a reduction of his annual $900,000 child support payments, stating that he could no longer afford it. In response, Smith accused Fraser of hiding his assets.

A few years later, in 2016, Fraser gave his first interview in years.

In a 30-minute interview with AOL, Fraser spoke about his role on TV show The Affair.

Brendan Fraser's "sad" interview. Image: YouTube.

ADVERTISEMENT

After the interview aired, however, fans pointed out that the actor looked "sad", leading fans to launch a Change.org petition titled 'Bring Brendan Fraser back into film/television'.

The petition, which was created in the hopes of helping Fraser "be happy", was created to help him get more acting roles.

A Change.org petition was created in response to the "sad" interview. Image: Change.org.

But behind the 'sad Brendan Fraser' meme, the actor was dealing with the loss of his mother to cancer, which occurred just days before the interview was filmed.

"I buried my mum. I think I was in mourning, and I didn't know what that meant," he told GQ.

On top of that, Fraser also hadn't done a media interview in several years.

"I wasn't quite sure what the format was. And I felt like: 'Man, I got f**king old. Damn, this is the way it's done now?'"

As of 2020, things are looking up for Brendan Fraser.

In recent years, the actor has appeared in a number of successful TV series including anthology-drama Trust, and political thriller Condor.

Brendan Fraser plays Robotman in Doom Patrol. Image: IMDb.

ADVERTISEMENT

The 51-year-old also has a leading role in DC action comedy series Doom Patrol, in which he plays Cliff Steele AKA Robotman.

Feature Image: Getty.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

 Want a cheeky $50? Tell us what you think 

MMSurvey
00:00 / ???