With the release of Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale,” Brendan Fraser is making a comeback on the big screen. Although he never truly vanished, his career did become relegated to supporting parts in obscure films that few people ever watched. Due to his work on “The Mummy” and its sequel, “The Mummy Returns,” he was once well-known.
This was not the case for “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor,” the third and final installment, which was moderately successful commercially but had significantly lower box office receipts than the prequels. Fraser is currently back to steal our hearts. He has received standing ovations for “The Whale” from numerous film festivals all around the world.
How Brendan Fraser’s Portrayal of a 600-pound Gay Man in the Film “the Whale” Helped to Revive His Career
In “The Mummy,” Brendan Fraser faced up against undead armies. In the movie “George of the Jungle,” he hung from vines. With Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, he went on an international adventure in “Looney Toons: Back in Action.” In “Bedazzled,” he struck a deal with Elizabeth Hurley’s portrayal of the Devil. In “Encino Man,” he went out with Pauly Shore as a revived Neanderthal.
In “School Ties,” he even showered with Matt Damon. And while those films propelled Fraser to the top of the A-list in the 1990s and early 2000s and garnered him fame, riches, and respect in Hollywood, they didn’t always scream “Oscar-worthy.” Of course, he was always invited to the party, but as a presenter rather than a contender.
Fraser claims, “I offer a pretty nice podium.” “I’m fantastic at presenting prizes. It’s simple. The strain is gone. You’re up there on stage saying lovely things to everyone while they bite their nails while you stare out at them, and then you hand out a prize. He pauses, sounding like a Brendan Fraser movie character. But now, Fraser says with a theatrical villain-like prophetic fervor, “the tables have turned!”
Fraser won’t simply be in the audience on March 12 when the best actor award is given out if the Oscar experts are correct. Due to his heartbreaking performance in “The Whale,” he is currently the early favorite to really win the prize. Hollywood loves resurrection stories like Fraser’s improbable rebirth. He’s portraying Charlie, a 600-pound gay man trying desperately to reconcile with his daughter as his health deteriorates, with the use of prosthetics.
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The 53-year-old actor had not played the lead in a significant film in 12 years, a gap on his resume that has been attributed to a combination of personal issues, health issues, and a bombshell assault claim against the former head of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization that organizes the Golden Globes. Then Darren Aronofsky knocked on the door.
Aronofsky worried he would never be able to find his Charlie after spending a decade trying to adapt Samuel D. Hunter’s play “The Whale” for the big screen and meeting with almost every actor of a certain age in Hollywood.
He occasionally became despondent and asked directors like George Clooney, Tom Ford, and Janicza Bravo to take over. Aronofsky had the idea to cast Fraser only after he by chance saw a trailer for a “low-budget Brazilian movie” Fraser had a role. The filmmaker believed that the man’s troubled, vulnerable quality would be ideal.
On a beautiful fall day, Aronofsky is seated next to Fraser in the opulent lobby of New York City’s Bowery Hotel. “As soon as he left my office after our first meeting, I felt it,” he recalls. “I was confident that he could portray a role where most viewers would initially ignore the character but would change their minds after five minutes. Because of Brendan’s unique qualities, they begin to fall in love with the character within the first 20 minutes. He starts to shatter your heart quite quickly.
Aronofsky has built a profession out of manipulating the identities of existing stars. Using Ellen Burstyn as an old woman hooked to diet pills in “Requiem for a Dream” and Natalie Portman as a ruthlessly ambitious ballerina in “Black Swan,” he investigated the darker side of Natalie Portman’s glossy celebrity. He has also demonstrated a willingness to wager on talent that the entertainment industry has overlooked. After all, this is the same filmmaker who oversaw Mickey Rourke’s comeback in “The Wrestler,” though he rejects suggestions that Fraser is in a similar predicament to Rourke.