Brendan Fraser's epic comeback continues with Oscar win
Brendan Fraser’s epic comeback: Star breaks down in tears over Best Actor Oscar after disappearing from the limelight amid depression battle and sexual assault allegation
- Actor, 54, won the Best Actor award for his performance in The Whale
- With tears running down his face, he said he’d been thrown a ‘creative lifeline’
- READ MORE: Everything Everywhere All At Once rules the Academy Awards
Brendan Fraser crowned his epic comeback last night by scooping the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in The Whale, and broke down in tears as he accepted the gong.
It was an incredible path back to Hollywood glory for the actor, 54, who has dominated awards season with his ‘sensational’ return to form starring as 600lb English literature lecturer who wants to reconnect with his teenage daughter.
He has received multiple standing ovations for the performance at film festivals – beginning this past September at the Venice Film Festival – paving his path to last night’s win.
The 54-year-old actor had tears running down his eyes as he accepted his award, saying: ‘Thank you, thank you. So this is what the multiverse looks like. Oh. My goodness. I thank the academy for this honor and for our studio a-24 for making such a bold film. And — I’m grateful to Darren [Aronofsky] for throwing me a creative lifetime and hauling me aboard the good ship The Whale.’
Brendan Fraser crowned his epic comeback last night by scooping the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in The Whale, and broke down in tears as he accepted the gong
The 54-year-old actor had tears running down his eyes as he accepted his well earned award as his speech began: ‘Thank you, thank you. So this is what the multiverse looks like. Oh. My goodness. I thank the academy for this honor and for our studio a-24 for making such a bold film. And — I’m grateful to Darren [Aronofsky] for throwing me a creative lifetime and hauling me aboard the good ship The Whale’
Comeback king gets his crown: Brendan proudly showed off his shiny new trophy after the show
After recognizing writer Samuel D. Hunter and castmate Hong Chau, he reflected on his career.
Fraser said: ‘I started in this business 30 years ago, and things – they didn’t come easily to me, but there was a facility that I didn’t…I didn’t appreciate at the time until it stopped.
‘And I just want to say thank you for this acknowledgement, because it couldn’t be done without my cast, it’s been like I’ve been in 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, like my sons, Holden and Leland and Griffin. I love you. My manager Joann, Jennifer plant, and my best first mate, Jeanne. Thank you, again, each one and all. I’m so grateful to you. Good night.’
Fraser beat contenders Austin Butler for Elvis, Colin Farrell for The Banshees of Inisherin, Paul Mescal for Aftersun, and Bill Nighy for Living.
The actor was with his partner Jeanne Moore and two of his three sons, Holden, 18, and Leland, 16, at the event. He shares his sons with ex-wife Afton Smith, as well as 20-year-old son Griffin.
Comeback: The actor, 54, has been hailed by critics for his ‘sensational’ comeback starring as 600lb English literature lecturer who wants to reconnect with his teenage daughter
Star: As he secures himself an Oscars nomination in the Best Actor category… MailOnline looks back at how the George Of The Jungle star made an epic career comeback
He has already picked up the Best Actor gong at the Critics Choice Awards and was nominated for a Golden Globe and BAFTA, but missed out to Austin Butler for his performance as Elvis Presley.
It is quite the career comeback for the star, who battled depression and disappeared from the limelight after making an allegation of sexual assault in 2003, while he was also in and out of hospital for health issues.
As he secures himself a Best Actor Oscar… MailOnline looks back at how Brendan has made an epic career comeback.
Big career break
After making his film debut as a sailor in 1991 film Dogfight alongside River Phoenix, Brendan’s big break came the following year in Encino Man.
He played the character of Link, a caveman who had been frozen for centuries and is thawed by two high school students who teach him about modern life.
Following the success of the film, he was cast in children’s favourite film franchises George of the Jungle and The Mummy.
Big break: After making his film debut as a sailor in 1991 film Dogfight alongside River Phoenix, Brendan’s big break came the following year in Encino Man
Fame: He played the character of Link, a caveman who had been frozen for centuries and is thawed by two high school students who teach him about modern life
His unbelievably chiselled physique also saw his garner a reputation as a Hollywood heartthrob as he thrashed around the sets performing stunts in high-action roles.
Speaking from his home in Bedford, New York, he said the physical toll of his roles made him feel like a workhorse from the Orwell novel Animal Farm.
After rising to fame through the action-packed films, Brendan described his buff physique as resembling ‘a walking steak’.
George Of The Jungle
During the 1990s and early 2000s, Brendan became a household name after starring in George Of The Jungle.
He starred in the 1997 Disney film George of the Jungle as a human dressed only in a loincloth who was raised by gorillas in the Ugandan jungle, which was based on the popular 1960s animated TV series of the same name.
Despite earning mixed reviews, the movie – which also starred Leslie Mann, Thomas Haden Church and Richard Roundtree – was a box office smash, raking in over $170 million globally against a $55 million budget.
Iconic: During the 1990s and early 2000s, Brendan was arguably best known for starring in George Of The Jungle
It did later earn a sequel, which went straight-to-video, with Christopher Showerman replacing Brendan as George and Julie Benz replacing Mann as Ursula, with Thomas Haden Church, John Cleese and Keith Scott reprising their roles.
When asked about the sequel in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Brendan referenced a scene in the 2003 follow-up where Disney seemingly referenced their own lowball offer to him.
‘I think George got a remake, and they built a joke into it that the studio was too cheap to hire me, which wasn’t inaccurate,’ he said.
Brendan revealed in December the grueling diet he subjected himself to in order to achieve his sculpted physique on George Of The Jungle.
In order to get the body for the role, he told Variety he ‘starved’ himself so much he could not remember his PIN ‘because my brain was misfiring’.
He made the admission to his Airheads co-star Adam Sandler as they reunited to chat for the publication’s Actors On Actors series.
He pointed out why his figure was so important to the movie, saying: ‘The wardrobe was there was no wardrobe.’
Knowing that he would be dressed only in a loincloth, Brendan found himself ‘waxed’ and ‘starved of carbohydrates.’
He shared: ‘I would drive home after work and stop to get something to eat. I needed some cash one day, and I went to the ATM, and I couldn’t remember my PIN number because my brain was misfiring. Banging on the thing. I didn’t eat that night.’
Role: He starred in the 1997 Disney film George of the Jungle as a human dressed only in a loincloth who was raised by gorillas in the Ugandan jungle
Huge success of The Mummy
Brendan went on to star alongside Rachel Weisz in The Mummy in 1999 and played adventurer Rick O’Connell in a total of in three of the movies.
He famously starred in 1999’s The Mummy, 2001’s The Mummy Returns and 2008’s The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
Brendan shot to stardom in The Mummy, which made an impressive $416.4million against an $80million budget.
Earlier this month, Brendan told Deadline’s The Actor’s Side that he would not be against returning to the franchise.
Adventure: Brendan went on to star alongside Rachel Weisz in The Mummy in 1999 and played adventurer Rick O’Connell in a total of in three of the movies
Blockbuster fame: Brendan shot to stardom in The Mummy, which made an impressive $416.4million against an $80million budget
He said: ‘It’s kind of an open-ended question for some time now. I’m not opposed to it, I don’t know an actor who doesn’t want a job.
‘I don’t think I’ve been this famous and unsalaried at the same time in my professional life so sign me up!’
String of blockbusters
After becoming a household name, Brendan secured a number of high profile roles in movies across the 2000s.
He starred in sci-fi movie Journey to the Centre of the Earth in 2008, and portrayed lead character Mo in children’s fantasy movie Inkheart, based on a book by Cornelia Funke.
Household name: After becoming a household name, Brendan secured a number of high profile roles in movies across the 2000s, including Journey to the Centre of the Earth
He also starred in a slew of projects including Encino Man, School Ties, Gods and Monsters, The Quiet American, Crash, Texas Rising, The Affair, Doom Patrol, and No Sudden Move.
Sexual assault allegation
Brendan said he believed he had been blacklisted from Hollywood after he claimed he had been sexually assaulted by the former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Philip Berk, in 2003.
Speaking to GQ in 2018, he alleged he was leaving a luncheon hosted by the HFPA at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Hollywood when Berk approached him.
He said: ‘His left hand reaches around, grabs my a** cheek, and one of his fingers touches me in the taint. And he starts moving it around.’
Claims: Brendan said he believed he had been blacklisted from Hollywood after he claimed he had been sexually assaulted by Philip Berk in 2003
He added: ‘I felt ill. I felt like a little kid. I felt like there was a ball in my throat. I thought I was going to cry.’
He claimed he was able to remove Berk’s hand before running out of the hotel and going straight home. He told his then wife, Afton Smith, about the incident but never made it public.
Instead, his reps asked Berk for a written apology, which he provided, but did not admit any wrongdoing.
Speaking to GQ about the claims, Berk acknowledged he had written a letter of apology to him but insisted he had not done anything wrong and dismissed his account as ‘a total fabrication’.
After Brendan reported the claim to the HFPA he said he believed he may have been ‘blacklisted’ and was rarely invited back to the Golden Globe awards.
Depression and breakdown of his marriage
Brendan said the alleged incident had caused him to ‘retreat’ from the limelight as he spiralled into depression.
He described feeling ‘not worthy’ as the decade wore on, leading him to take roles he was less proud of.
As well as retreating from the spotlight in his career, his marriage was also falling apart.
He divorced Afton Smith, who he shares three sons Griffin, Leland and Holden with, in 2007 after nine years of marriage. As part of the settlement, he was ordered to pay $50,000 a month in spousal support.
Split: He divorced Afton Smith, who he shares three sons Griffin, Leland and Holden with, in 2007 after nine years of marriage
But in 2013, he sought an amendment to the agreement asking to pay less, claiming he wasn’t earning the same enormous paycheques he had received in the 1990s during his heyday and couldn’t afford the payments.
Being cast in The Affair
In 2016, his career picked up when he was cast in Showtime drama The Affair, starring Dominic West and Ruth Wilson.
Fraser played cruel prison guard John Gunther in the third season of the show – although the audience is unsure whether or not he is real or a figment of West’s imagination.
While promoting the role in 2016, Fraser sat down for an interview with AOL – but his demeanour during the chat raised alarm with his fans.
Return: In 2016, his career picked up when he was cast in Showtime drama The Affair, starring Dominic West and Ruth Wilson
As he stumbled over his words and appeared somewhat spaced out, people began to worry he was ‘depressed’.
However Fraser later revealed his mother had passed away from cancer just four days before he filmed the interview.
He said he hadn’t done any press for a role in a long time and added he was ‘in mourning’ when the interview took place.
Starring with Hollywood stars Donald Sutherland and Hilary Swank
By 2018, Brendan’s career appeared to be back on track as he starred in FX series Trust alongside Hollywood heavyweights Donald Sutherland and Hilary Swank.
He played James Fletcher Chase, a former CIA agent who was hired by billionaire J. Paul Getty in 1973 to find Getty’s kidnapped grandson.
TV: By 2018, Brendan’s career appeared to be back on track as he starred in FX series Trust alongside Hollywood heavyweights Donald Sutherland and Hilary Swank
After the series debuted, Vox reported it could be the beginning of the ‘Brendan Fraser renaissance’ – and as Brendan is now in line for several awards following his performance in The Whale, that prophecy may have come true.
‘Brenaissance’: Incredible performance in The Whale
Brendan made his epic return in The Whale, which marked his first Hollywood project in almost ten years and his first lead role in a movie since straight-to-DVD thriller Breakout in 2013.
In the psychological drama, he underwent a physical transformation to play an overweight man confined to a wheelchair, who is trying to reconnect with his daughter (Sadie Sink).
To play English teacher Charlie, who weighs 600 pounds, he had to wear prosthetics and spend four hours every day having the heavy 300-pound suit fitted.
Sensational: Brendan made his epic return in The Whale, which marked his first Hollywood project in almost ten years and his first lead role in a movie since Breakout in 2013
Brendan described the role as the ‘hardest thing’ he’s ever done but said he was able to understand what was important to Charlie because of the love he has for his own children. Brendan shares sons Griffin, 20, Holden, 18, and Leland, 16, with his ex-wife Afton Smith.
The Whale follows Brendan’s character Charlie as he tries to reconnect with his 17-year-old daughter Ellie (Sadie) after leaving her and her mother years earlier for another man.
The guilt over his relationship with the man – who would later die – leads Charlie to overeat and get to his current weight of 600 pounds.
The official synopsis reads: ‘A reclusive English teacher suffering from severe obesity attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption.’
The movie is based on the off-Broadway play of the same name, written by Samuel D. Hunter, who came on board as the screenwriter for the film.
Darren Aronofsky, known for helming films such as The Wrestler (2008), Mother! (2017) and Black Swan (2010), which earned him an Academy Award nomination, first saw the play in 2012 and asked the writer to work on a screenplay.
Fans have described his incredible comeback in The Whale as his ‘brenaissance’ as he continues to impress both critics and viewers alike.
Golden Globes nomination
Despite acting since 1991, Brendan has finally earned awards season recognition for The Whale.
The only award he took home before this year was the Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, which he won alongside his Crash co-stars in 2006.
But he secured his first Golden Globes nod in the Best Actor category, but lost out to Austin Butler for his performance as Elvis Presley in the biopic Elvis.
Acclaim: Despite acting since 1991, Brendan has finally earned awards season recognition for The Whale
However, he did not attend the Golden Globes, despite being nominated for his comeback movie The Whale.
He alleged four years ago that his career ‘withered on a vine’ after he was groped in 2003 by Philip Berk, a former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which is the organisation behind the Golden Globes.
Before the ceremony, he declared that he would ‘not participate’, adding: ‘I have more history with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association than I have respect for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.’
He did continue to attend the Golden Globes after 2003, sitting in the audience at the ceremony as recently as 2010, when Berk was president of the HFPA.
Critics’ Choice Awards win
In another huge achievement, Brendan took home his first major award for his performance in The Whale at the 2023 Critics’ Choice Awards.
In the Best Actor category, he beat out an impressive field which included Austin Butler – Elvis, Tom Cruise – Top Gun: Maverick, Colin Farrell – The Banshees of Inisherin, Paul Mescal – Aftersun, and Bill Nighy – Living.
Congratulations! In another huge achievement, Brendan took home his first major award for his performance in The Whale
Accepting the award, he said: ‘Thank you. Thank you for this honor, Critics Choice Association. Thank you.
‘It was Herman Melville who once wrote that there are only five critics in America. The rest are asleep. I don’t know what it means either. But I’m sure glad that you woke up for me. Where were you?’
He also thanked acclaimed director Darren Aronofsky for the project as he said: ‘I was in the wilderness. I probably should have left a trail of breadcrumbs. But you found me. And like all best directors, you merely just showed me where to go to get to where I needed to be.’
Continuing to dominate the awards season, Brendan was also nominated for Best Actor for the 2023 BAFTAs, due to be held on February 19.
He is up against Austin Butler for his performance as Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s biopic, Colin Farrell for The Banshees of Inisherin and Paul Mescal for Aftersun.
Also nominated in the category are Daryl McCormack for Good Luck To You, Leo Grande and Bill Nighy for Living.
The Whale also earned recognition for Best Make-up and Hair and for Best Adapted Screenplay as it continues to earn acclaim.
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