Once the dashing wonder of the 90s Tinseltown, Brendan Fraser spent almost two decades in obscurity. But he has done what almost everyone had deemed impossible — he is back on the Hollywood map, proving that his is not a story of a fading star.

After decades away from the big screen, Brendan Fraser is back and to prove it he just won the Oscar for Best Actor in The Whale. This is a man who the world has been rooting for in the last year. A man who has always come across as sincere, hard done by, and most importantly (when it comes to the Oscars) extremely talented.

Anyone who has grown up watching the golden era of the ’90s cinema is more than familiar with Brendan Fraser, the strapping blue-eyed handsome star who ruled the silver screen back then with his undeniably brilliant acting chops. He was one of the ‘It’ stars of the decade, with films like Encino Man, School Ties, Airheads, Still Breathing, George of the Jungle, and The Mummy completing his transition to being a bankable Hollywood action actor with the potential to rake in big bucks at the box office.

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But by the end of the 2000s, the number of hits he managed to serve was getting overshadowed by the critical and commercial failures. The star was losing his high spot in the wide expanse of the starry sky and for years, it became a task to find that spark within himself that was not governed by others’ perception of who he is. 

The Setting Sun of Brendan Fraser’s Career

Brendan Fraser
Brendan Fraser in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Judging by the fact that Fraser remained stuck in the formula that was a hit back in the 90s and was unable to adapt to the change in the cinematic landscape, his decline was obvious. By his own admission, the actor’s sense of “who I was and what I was doing” was severely messed up after former HFPA President, Philip Berk, allegedly sexually assaulted him in the summer of 2003.

Apart from facing backlash for pointing fingers at Berk, he was also going through a divorce at the time. Fraser has shared that he was depressed and unable to focus on his career in the wake of everything that was happening. 

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As shared in an interview with GQ back in 2018, for Fraser work “withered on the vine for me. In my mind, at least, something had been taken away from me.” Though the HFPA has vehemently maintained they never interfered with the actor’s career, Fraser wondered if the association blacklisted him for daring to speak against their own. 

In the years that followed, Brendan Fraser only played small, easily forgettable roles, leading a life away from all the stardom he had rightfully earned. In fact, a few years back The Mummy alum was increasingly becoming the favorite topic of “what happened to this famous star” articles. 

The Re-Discovery of the Brendan Fraser

If you were to pick at the complicated yarn of Hollywood and try to look past all the glitz and glamour, you will end up with a disappointing picture of talented actors who have been sidelined into the depths of obscurity with no hopes of ever regaining the fame they once enjoyed. 

But despite being crudely dethroned decades ago and left to wade through a sea of disappointments, setbacks, and playing roles that drastically failed to represent the actor’s massive potential, Brendan Fraser has risen like a phoenix from the ashes. 

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It all started with HBO casting him as Cliff Steele/Robotman in the DC series Doom Patrol. Needless to say, Fraser once again proved he can and does steal every frame he is in. This was followed by filmmaker Steven Soderbergh casting him in the crime drama No Sudden Move alongside Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, and Julia Fox. The sudden — but totally well-deserved and earned — rise in his popularity further bloomed thanks to compliments from critics and the general audience for his role in the crime drama. 

What has eventually cemented his glorious comeback to Hollywood land is his heart-touchingly exceptional performance as the protagonist in director Darren Aronofsky’s 2022 drama, The Whale. Completely driven by Fraser moving performance, the film tells the story of Charlie, a reclusive English teacher who is struggling with obesity and is desperate to reach out to his teenage daughter as a last-ditch attempt to redeem himself. 

Brendan Fraser Reaps His Awards

So far, the film has earned him a six-minute standing ovation at the Venice International Film Festival, a Golden Globe nomination, Best Actor at the Critics Choice Awards, and winning the Best Actor award at the 2023 Oscars. Given his relentless upward-rising trajectory and the applause that keeps coming his way for The Whale, it won’t be too far-fetched to presume that Fraser might end up marking his comeback by securing his first-ever Oscar. 

So, what worked in Brendan Fraser’s favor? Of course, the directors who overlooked the decades the actor spent playing minor roles and gave him the platform for the “Brenaissance” are definitely worthy of a bit of the credit. But the majority of it goes to Fraser’s refusal to give up. 

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Yes, he was overwhelmed and his spirit was crushed by everything happening to him, but he never let his passion for acting die or be warped by the disappointments he was on the receiving end of for years. You can be lost in the darkness but as Fraser said in his emotional message during the Critics’ Choice Awards, “if you too can have the strength to just get to your feet and go to the light, good things will happen.”

With his inspiring rise back to stardom and reclaiming his rightful place at the top in the world of cinema, Brendan Fraser is proof of the wonders you have the potential to set in motion when you believe in yourself, even sparingly, even if it is shrouded in doubt.

All you have to do is go on — you will fall, lose, and might find it hard to hold on to hope in the process. Because as he said, all you have to do is to find it in yourself to just get up and strive to get out of the dark place you are in, the universe will recognize your hard work, your Herculean efforts to beat everything threatening to keep you down, and yes, good things will happen.