We all remember watching Brendan Fraser in the movies he made when we were kids. It all started with Encino Man, but our obsession with his movies would only grow and grow over the next few years.
It seemed like he was in every movie, playing the hunky yet funny star of all the greatest action adventures and comedies from our younger years. But suddenly, his career seemed to get a little bit out of control. The quality of the movies wasn’t up to snuff. There were no more hits like George of the Jungle or The Mummy, instead we had movies like Monkeybone and Furry Vengeance.
The actor’s career took a bit of a tumble after years of hit movies, and he seemed to vanish from the public eye. When he did come out into the world, he would be faced with a lot of criticism over his appearance, whether warranted or not, and then he’d once again slip away.
We’ve all been wondering for years where he went off to, but in the last few years he started to have a bit of a comeback. He has transitioned into television roles, including a short run in the series The Affair, a part in the mini-series Texas Rising and is currently filming a TV show called Trust.
The actor recently spoke with GQ Magazine to discus his absence from Hollywood, and opened up about his return to the spotlight.
He opened up about his home life, and how adopting the horse he rode in Texas Rising is helping his son. He brought the horse home after being unhappy with how he had been treated on set. “They beat up on this horse. I mean, I swear, I saw him get kicked so many times, bit, by other horses all the time. And I never saw him fight back,” Fraser said.
He decided that bringing the horse home with him would be beneficial for both the horse and his son, Griffin.
“Griffin’s rated on the autism spectrum. So he needs extra love in the world, and he gets it. And his brothers [Holden, 13, Leland, 11] ever since they were small, one was always the spokesperson and the other was the enforcer,” Fraser explained.
He decided to see how his son would act around the horse and he was stunned with the results. “There’s something good that happens between the two of them. And even if he doesn’t ride him, just give him a brush. The horse loves it, the repetitive motion that kids on the spectrum have that they love. And it just works… You know, you have to find those tools, strategies. If I ride, too, I just feel better. I just feel better.”
But then it came time to find out what had actually happened in his career…
Fraser revealed that his work schedule may have been what led to his downfall. During George of the Jungle, he described himself as “a walking steak,” but as his career continued to pick up momentum it got more and more intense.
“I believe I probably was trying too hard, in a way that’s destructive,” Fraser said. “By the time I did the third Mummy picture in China, I was put together with tape and ice—just, like, really nerdy and fetishy about ice packs. Screw-cap ice packs and downhill-mountain-biking pads, ’cause they’re small and light and they can fit under your clothes. I was building an exoskeleton for myself daily.”
By pushing himself so hard, he ended up needing several surgeries and procedures to keep his body in working order. He had a knee replacement, he had work done on his back which involved bolting parts of his spine together, and he even had to have his vocal cords repaired.
Fraser spent seven years in and out of the hospital without any of us even realizing how bad it had gotten.
“This is gonna really probably be a little saccharine for you,” Fraser said. “But I felt like the horse from Animal Farm, whose job it was to work and work and work. Orwell wrote a character who was, I think, the proletariat. He worked for the good of the whole, he didn’t ask questions, he didn’t make trouble until it killed him.… I don’t know if I’ve been sent to the glue factory, but I’ve felt like I’ve had to rebuild shit that I’ve built that got knocked down and do it again for the good of everyone. Whether it hurts you or not.”
When Fraser first came back into the public eye, his interview had the whole world laughing at how he was acting. He was unfocused and quiet, and completely unlike his usual self. The internet turned him into a meme, but as it turns out, the reason behind his attitude had changed was because his mother had passed away just days before the interview.
“I buried my mom,” Fraser says. “I think I was in mourning, and I didn’t know what that meant.”
Coupled with the fact that he was admittedly rusty, Fraser tried his best. “I wasn’t quite sure what the format was. And I felt like, ‘Man, I got f*cking old. Damn, this is the way it’s done now?‘”
He continued by explaining that there was a lot happening at the time when we weren’t seeing him.
“Going to work—in between being in and out of those hospitals, that wasn’t always possible. So what I’m saying to you sounds, I hope, not like some sort of Hey, I had a boo-boo. I needed to put a Band-Aid on it, but more of an account of the reality of what I was walking around in. I changed houses; I went through a divorce. Some kids were born. I mean, they were born, but they’re growing up. I was going through things that mold and shape you in ways that you’re not ready for until you go through them.”
But there was more that he wanted to open up about, it just took him more time…
Fraser met back up with the interviewer and spoke up about something he has never revealed before because he didn’t have “the courage to speak up for risk of humiliation, or damage to my career.”
Fraser says that in 2003, the former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Philip Berk, sexually assaulted him. Fraser went into detail about how Berk groped him and touched him without his consent, and how it affected him after the fact.
“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.” Fraser said. “I felt like someone had thrown invisible paint on me.”
Berk still is a member of the HFPA, and he disputes Fraser’s account of the incident. Fraser didn’t speak publicly at the time, but he did have his reps ask for an apology. There was a letter written, but Berk has said that “My apology admitted no wrongdoing, the usual ‘If I’ve done anything that upset Mr. Fraser, it was not intended and I apologize.’”
“I became depressed,” Fraser said. “I was blaming myself and I was miserable—because I was saying, ‘This is nothing; this guy reached around and he copped a feel.’ That summer wore on—and I can’t remember what I went on to work on next.”
Fraser wondered if his actions had affected his career. “I don’t know if this curried disfavor with the group, with the HFPA. But the silence was deafening.”
He felt as though his career “withered on the vine for me. In my mind, at least, something had been taken away from me.”
But when he saw his former friends and fellow actors standing up against sexual assault he knew it was time.
“Am I still frightened? Absolutely. Do I feel like I need to say something? Absolutely. Have I wanted to many, many times? Absolutely. Have I stopped myself? Absolutely. And maybe I am over-reacting in terms of what the instance was. I just know what my truth is. And it’s what I just spoke to you.”
He ended the interview by explaining how his choice to do Looney Tunes: Back in Action was almost like a cry for help. He wanted to make that movie specifically because of the scene where he gets to punch himself in the face. “The reason I was adamant about wanting to do that, even if I didn’t realize it until much, much later, is that at that time I think I wanted to knock myself out. I wanted to take the piss out of myself before someone else would, ’cause I had it in my head that I had it coming.”
“The phone does stop ringing in your career, and you start asking yourself why. There’s many reasons, but was this one of them? I think it was,” Fraser explained. “I bought into the pressure that comes with the hopes and aims that come with a professional life that’s being molded and shaped and guided and managed. That requires what they call thick skin, or just ignoring it, putting your head in the sand, or gnashing your teeth and putting on your public face, or just not even…needing the public. Ignoring. Staying home, damn it. You know, not ’cause I’m aloof or anything, but because I just felt I couldn’t be a part of it. I didn’t feel that I belonged.”
“Something good came out of something that was bad,” he says. “Sometimes it takes a while for that to happen.”
So Brendan Fraser is back, filming a new TV show called Trust that he is really excited about. Hopefully being honest about his experiences will help get his career back to the top of the pack.
Source – GQ