Brendan Fraser: ‘We can put actors on pedestals and then knock them off so easily’

Brendan Fraser’s movie The Whale will (finally) be out on Friday. Given what I’ve read online, I’m surprised it is sitting at 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. As in, that seems really high for how many people have just said they hated the film. However, once again, everyone said that Brendan turns in an amazing performance. I’m not surprised by this. Although Brendan has some particularly fun roles under his belt like Encino Man and George of the Jungle and action roles like The Mummy, he cemented his chops for me in School Ties. He was so powerful in the locker room scene, I can still see it in my mind. Plus he went toe-to-toe with Harrison Ford in Extraordinary Measures. And I’ll watch With Honors or Bedazzled anytime they come on, but they aren’t great art, I recognize.

But I’m getting away from myself, if a role needs someone who can act, especially one that calls for a soul, Brendan delivers. Just look at the depth he gave his arc on Scrubs – ripped out our hearts and left them on the floor. Brendan pulls from experience too, since he knows what it’s like to be at the top and taken down. He told CBS Sunday Morning that part of the reason he stepped back from Hollywood was because even at his physical peak, he felt he wasn’t good enough. So he wanted to stop the madness and gain some perspective.

Brendan Fraser is poised for a career comeback — and potentially an Oscar — with his return to the big screen in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale. In a new interview with CBS Sunday Morning, the actor opens up about what made him step back from Hollywood in the first place. Speaking to CBS’s Lee Cowan, Fraser reflects on his leading man status throughout the ’90s and 2000s thanks to roles in films like Encino Man, School Ties, George of the Jungle and, most notably, the blockbuster Mummy franchise.

“I think, that guy’s really lucky,” the 54-year-old says now of his younger self, adding with a laugh, “I think he’s got awesome hair.”

Fraser was a Hollywood heartthrob at the time, but says now that he felt like he didn’t quite measure up.

“I felt at that time that it wasn’t enough,” he says. “I wasn’t big enough, I wasn’t cut enough, or any of those adjectives. And the person that I saw, and was trying to create, wasn’t an ideal in my mind. And how do you contend with that?”

Fraser says he “needed the music to stop” — which meant stepping back from Hollywood.
“We can put actors on pedestals and then knock them off so quickly and so easily,” he says. “It’s almost like that’s the game. So I just got rid of the pedestal. I just wanted to be myself.”

But it wasn’t just self-doubt that prompted Fraser’s hiatus. In 2018, the divorced dad of three went public about a 2003 groping incident involving Philip Berk, the former Hollywood Foreign Press Association president.

“It was causing me emotional distress,” he says of the incident. “It was causing me personal distress.”

[From Yahoo]

“The person that I saw, and was trying to create, wasn’t an ideal in my mind.” This sentence hits you between the eyes. How many times have I twisted myself into a pretzel to become someone else’s ideal? Brendan’s story is sad on so many levels. Because of course, his fall was linked to the sexual assault referenced above and the fact that Brendan reported it. Reading this interview, it sounds like Brendan had a little more say in the decision to step back. That doesn’t diminish the fact that he needed a break to deal with the emotional trauma of being groped. Just that I assumed he’d been black-listed. But it sounds like he made some choices to pull back for his own well-being. At least he had some agency in the matter of stepping back. The upside, of course, is Brendan is back, on his terms, and once again, reminding us how amazing an actor he is.

In case you missed it, Brendan stepped out with his sons over the weekend and gave Pierce Brosnan and his sons a run for their money:

Photos credit: Blaine Ohigashi/Avalon

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17 Responses to “Brendan Fraser: ‘We can put actors on pedestals and then knock them off so easily’”

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  1. Katie Beanstalk says:

    Um… Brendan Fraser, I never put you on a pedestal.

  2. CourtneyB says:

    He was really good in season 1 of Condor.

    And YES! to With Honors. I love that movie. I’m not ashamed.

  3. Nicegirl says:

    I did miss it!! What a beautiful trio 🥰

    I’m so glad he’s back working!! so much talent and kindness in one person.

    Omg remember him in Blast From The Past, w Alicia Silverstone? So young!! Love to see folks grow and age in film personally, it’s so cool to me.

    I’d watch him in another cheese 🧀 level Mummy movie too especially if he were reunited w Rachel W. Oooh & smoking hot Oded Fehr 🔥

  4. SAS says:

    Adore him. I’m so upset by the years of work we lost from him, which is obviously beside the point considering what he’s had to go through. The fact he remains so open and thoughtful is such a privilege for us.

  5. Frippery says:

    I am here for the Brenaissance

  6. Lala11_7 says:

    I could tell from DAY 1…he could act…EVERYTHING is in his GLORIOUS eyes & he wore that vulnerability like a bespoke suit…I was just waiting for him to get older so that he could segue into the character roles that matched his innate talent…I had NO IDEA how he destroyed his body working & had his soul assaulted with that sexual attack…and that’s what’s sad.

  7. HeatherC says:

    Take it back, Hecate. What you said about With Honors! One of my faves and I cry every time.

    I understand what he’s saying about pedestals, especially for young good looking guys cast in roles as young good looking guys. When they’re no longer as young and not as fit as you were at 21, you do get cast aside. Not as often or as dramatic as women when they get to a “certain age” but it DOES happen.

  8. Peachy says:

    Older me finds him just as attractive now that he’s also older. His vulnerability, maturity and willingness to speak from the heart are so difficult to find, especially in men! I really really hope the whale does well and that he is at least nominated for awards this season. Perhaps it will give internal validation to what the rest of us already know…the man can ACT!

  9. ooshpick says:

    Gods and Monsters. I was just a teenage swooner when i watched this and realized that he was more than beouf.

  10. Feebee says:

    I’m glad to see him back and even better that he’s getting all this love about it.

    Holy cow, his sons are interesting looking dudes. I don’t know what his wife looks like l but between them they’ve produced some great looking children.

  11. Almonddanish says:

    Airheads will forever be my favorite of his films.

  12. Jen says:

    I can’t believe you mentioned Extraordinary Measures! It’s a long running source of amusement among one group of friends of mine that I’m the only person who remembers that we watched it together. I would like to point out that while it is indeed an amazing story showing what massive amounts of dedicated money can do to advance science*, the movie’s portrayal that children who lost the ability to walk can regain the ability to walk on the treatment after the disease has destroyed their muscles is wrong. It can slow or even halt the damage of the disease and, but it’s not able to reverse damage already done.

    *Meghan’s friend and podcast guest Victoria Jackson did something similar to the Brendan Fraser character: that is, put her wealth and business skills towards towards accelerating research to treat her child’s rare condition (in their case, neuromyelitis optica,) and succeeding in time for her own child to benefit.

  13. TheVolvesSeidr says:

    He was amazing in Gods and Monsters, probably my favorite movie with him. Love him.

  14. Normades says:

    Yes, he is so right about everything and I’m so happy he’s doing the whole award thing on his terms. Men need to speak out about abuse too. The Kevin Spaceys and Dan Schneider’s are just as abound in Hollywood.

  15. ML says:

    As to what Brendan Fraser said about feeling that he didn’t measure up (not being cut enough, etc)… he sustained multiple physical injuries while acting in addition to the sexual abuse, both of which caused his acting hiatus. As someone who filmed many physical roles to the point of being typecast, that could only lend more credence to his feelings of inadequacy. I really appreciated him from School Ties onwards and even Bedazzled is a guilty pleasure. I’m glad he’s back on his own terms.