During last Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremonies, an emotional Brendan Fraser won his very first Oscar. He took home the Best Actor trophy for his role in the movie “The Whale.”
In his acceptance speech, he made reference to his unusual career trajectory.
“I started in this business 30 years ago, and things didn’t come easily to me, but there was a facility that I didn’t appreciate at the time until it stopped,” he said.
The actor achieved fame and fortune for his compelling roles in a host of hit movies. In his “Encino Man” breakthrough role, he portrays a caveman who is revived out of his frozen state and upon awakening finds himself in the modern world.
Best known for his starring role in “The Mummy” franchise, Brendan appeared to have exited for a fairly long stretch from the entertainment industry as well as the public square.
Lots of folks took note of his extended absence, but they also noticed his amazing reemergence. Only this time he is holding an Oscar in his hand.
Those in the know understood why the career of the talented and successful actor had come to an abrupt halt.
The back story of his disappearance and reappearance provides insight into one of the darker sides of Hollywood. Thankfully for Brendan, some bright spots were ahead.
His is a tale of suffering, rejection, and eventually redemption.
Like a number of other action stars, Brendan has routinely decided to perform many of his own stunts in both his action and comedy roles. The decision turned out to have some major consequences though, taking a steep toll on his body.
He spoke candidly about having to deal with serious pain as a result of his work in the 2008 film “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor,” as well as previous films.
“I was put together with tape and ice… 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 said.
Injuries would force him to undergo several surgeries over a period of seven years, including a partial knee replacement, a laminectomy, lumbar surgery, and vocal cord repair.
In addition to physical suffering, he shared that his world had been shaken by a sexual assault.
In 2018 he revealed that back in 2003 he had been sexually assaulted by an individual named Philip Berk, who was the then-president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization that votes for the Golden Globe Awards. Berk denies the allegation.
Brendan explained that he had “played by the rules up until that point,” adding, “I felt like, okay, now, suddenly, I’ve been violated. And it has gone too far. And I will no longer abide this.”
He also said that the incident made him “retreat” and “feel reclusive.”
Interestingly, there is a kind of consensus among many entertainment writers and social media users that he was actually blacklisted from Hollywood because of the sexual assault allegations.
He himself alluded to the notion, saying, “I don’t know if this curried disfavor with the group, with the HFPA. But the silence was deafening.”
“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,” he said.
He also characterized his acting work as having “withered on the vine.”
Much like the arc of a great script, Brendan’s real life story would be redirected, thanks to a unique movie role.
Securing the lead acting part in “The Whale” would end up being a monumental turnaround event in his life.
In his acceptance speech at the Oscars, he expressed heartfelt gratitude to the director of the film, stating, “I’m grateful to Darren Aronofsky for throwing me a creative lifeline and hauling me aboard the cruise ship ‘The Whale.’”
For him, or for any actor, the part that Brendan plays is a most unusual one. He took on the challenging role of playing a reclusive, precariously overweight English teacher.
Although many in the film critic community took issue with the movie itself, both the critics and the public loved Brendan’s portrayal.
At the 2022 Venice Film Festival where “The Whale.” premiered, the actor received a standing ovation. And in addition to an Academy Award for his artistic endeavor, he also garnered a Screen Actors Guild Award and Critic’s Choice Movie Award.
It’s all so remarkable, really.
The individual who seemed to have been exiled from the entertainment community got a golden return ticket back.