Selected in Competition at the Venice Film Festival, the film “The Whale” by Darren Aronofsky will mark the return of Brendan Fraser in a leading role. But why did the 90’s star disappear from the screens? Back on his journey.
The first still from the new movie Darren Aronofsky, The Whale was unveiled last Wednesday on the occasion of its selection in Official Competition at the 79th Venice Film Festival. Brendan Fraser appears unrecognizable.
In the feature film adapted from the play by Samuel D.Hunter, the actor plays Charlie, a man who suffers from morbid obesity and weighs 270 kilos. The latter hides in his apartment and desperately tries to reconnect with his daughter. Soon, he befriends a sharp-tongued and very unhappy teenager.
This film will mark the return of the 53-year-old actor in a leading role. After the success of the saga The Mummy, the actor has almost disappeared from the screens. We explain the reason to you.
In 1999, Brendan Fraser becomes a world star thanks to the success of The Mummy which totaled 155 million at the international box office.
7 years of going back and forth to the hospital
The American actor continues with furious, Return of the Mummy then Collision. Anxious to perform his stunts himself, he does not hesitate to pay with his own person, almost choking on the set of The Mummy or seriously burning his hand on that of Journey to the Center of the Earth in 2007.
“I was surrounded by bandages, ice and hiking pads because they are small and light and fit under clothing. I was building an exoskeleton every day,” then entrusts the actor who also undergoes surgery, in particular a laminectomy, a procedure allowing the removal of one or more vertebral blades.
Then it was a lumbar that no longer held and it had to be operated on again. One of his knees had to be partially replaced and his vocal cords gave out.
For 7 years, the actor spent a lot of time in hospitals, paying what he describes as his desire to “too much force, to the point that it becomes destructive“.
He also questions his pace of work: “I felt like I was working over and over and fixing stuff that I had already fixed but was getting destroyed over and over again for everyone’s enjoyment.“.
But his health problems are not the only culprits. In an interview with GQ magazine in 2018, the actor admits to having been sexually assaulted.
Victim of sexual assault
During the summer of 2003, weakened by his health, Fraser went to the Beverly Hills Hotel for a dinner organized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, an organization which deals in particular with the Golden Globes. On the way home, he is called by Philip Berk, former president of the HFPA who, according to Berk’s version in his autobiography, “pinches his butt”. But Brendan Fraser’s version is quite different:
“His left hand approached, grabbed my buttocks and one of his fingers touched my anus. And he started to move it“. At this moment, Fraser “felt badly. I felt like a little child. I had a lump in my throat. I felt like I was going to cry“.
The actor and his representatives have since demanded an apology from Berk, who denies Fraser’s version. The former HFPA president, however, wrote a letter to the comedian saying, “If I did anything that upset Mr. Fraser, it was unintentional and I apologize.“.
Liberation possible thanks to the #MeToo movement
Brendan Fraser explains that he found the strength to speak out thanks to the advent of the #MeToo movement: “I know Rose McGowan, Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino, I worked with them. I haven’t spoken to them in years but they are my friends. I followed their wonderful movement and these people able to say what I had not had the courage to say“.
Since speaking out about it and telling his story, Fraser still says he’s “frightened”. He comments: “Do I feel like I needed to talk about it? Absolutely. Have I wanted to do it many times? Absolutely. Did I give it up? Absolutely.“
After this sexual assault, Brendan Fraser sinks into a long depression which is accentuated on the shooting of Looney Tunes take action by Joe Dante.
In this comedy, the actor responds to cartoon characters and plays a stunt double for Brendan Fraser. He will even come to cross paths with the real Brendan Fraser at the end of the film. In this scene, the actor is therefore split on the screen and hits himself. “I think at that time I wanted to beat myself up before someone else did.”he reveals.
Having become a shadow of himself, Brendan Fraser can no longer land a role. “The phone stopped ringing and I started wondering why. This is for many reasons, but [ce qui s’est passé avec Berk] is she one of them? I think so.”
The actor explains that his depression is also linked to his job. “I am not a reserved person, but I felt that I could no longer be part of this world of cinema. I no longer felt in my place“.
In 2010, he toured alongsideHarrison Ford in Exceptional measures before definitively turning away from Hollywood. The business failure of The Mummy 3 didn’t make things better and Brendan Fraser is replaced by Dwayne Johnson in the sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth.
A new era
The actor then only shoots independent films until his comeback in the series Trust. Fraser is much better and seems to be enjoying acting again. He then landed the role of superhero Robotman aka Clifford Steele in the series Doom Patrol.
The actor says:You may sometimes feel that you are not up to it, that you have failed. It’s wrong. It’s a new time, a new era, and positive changes will come from the sexual assault testimonies. I am optimistic and hopeful“.
2023 marks the actor’s strong comeback since he will be the headliner of The Whale of Darren Aronofsky from February 23 and will appear in the casting of the film by Martin Scorsese, Killers of the Flower Moon in which he plays the role of a lawyer. Brendan Fraser will also play one of Batman’s enemies, Pyrovol (Firefly in English) in the HBO film, Batgirl.