Brendan Fraser: Hollywood’s great comeback story

frederic brown/agence france presse Brendan Fraser

Brendan Fraser’s win at the 95th Academy Awards capped his comeback to Hollywood A-list status in glorious fashion.

The Canadian-American actor bested Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin), Austin Butler (Elvis), Bill Nighy (Living) and Paul Mescal (Aftersun) for the Best Actor award at the Oscars for his role as Charlie in The Whale.

Fraser also recently won Best Actor for the same role at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and Critics’ Choice Awards.

It’s the Brenaissance era, as fans have dubbed his narrative of redemption.

“So this is what the multiverse looks like,” said an emotional Fraser during his acceptance speech at the Oscars. “I started in this business 30 years ago and things didn’t come so easily. There was a facility that I didn’t appreciate at that time until it stopped. I just want to say thank you to this acknowledgement because it couldn’t be done without my cast. It’s been like a diving expedition at the bottom of the ocean and the air on the line to the surface is on a launch being watched over by some people in my life.”

Fraser’s recent successes came after years of struggle.

After becoming one’s of Hollywood’s go-to leading men in the late ‘90s and early 2000s with such iconic films as George of the Jungle and The Mummy, the actor lost his spot in the limelight as he faced problems in his personal life.

His divorce with Afton Smith in December 2007, with whom he shared three sons, led to the actor having to pay a large alimony for a 10-year period or until Smith remarried, and $25,000 child support.

After about four years, Fraser filed a court petition to lessen the amount of his alimony on grounds of inability to meet his obligations.

Smith then accused him of fraud for “failure to disclose” a one-million contract and an eight-million contract from his projects Extraordinary Measures and Furry Vengeance, which led to the dismissal of his petition.

Fraser also underwent several surgeries (partial knee replacement, laminectomy, vocal cord surgery) within a seven-year period.

But the biggest blow was what he revealed in an interview with GQ in 2018. Fraser said he had been sexually assaulted by former Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Philip Berk. That revelation saw him “blacklisted” in Hollywood, according to reports.

He also faced the death of his mother soon after. All of these problems led Fraser into a cycle of depression that made it difficult for him to pursue acting.

But life imitates art, because in The Whale he found a redemption story almost similar to his own.

The movie, directed by Darren Aronofsky, follows Charlie, an English professor who struggles with severe obesity and desires to reconnect with his estranged daughter. He teaches his students via video call from the comfort of his home although he keeps his camera off because he is conscious of his appearance.

It took nine years until Fraser got another leading role in a film — but with The Whale, he now has an Oscar Best Actor trophy to complete his triumphant return to Hollywood stardom.

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