Oscars 2023: Brendan Fraser’s renaissance explained

Brendan Fraser attends the 2023 Vanity Fair Oscar Party after winning the Oscar for Best Actor. (John Shearer/WireImage)

Brendan Fraser is having something of a moment. The 53-year-old star of hit films from the ’90s to ’00s like ‘The Mummy’, ‘George in the Jungle’ and ‘California Man’ was brought to tears after receiving a six-minute standing ovation for his new film at the Venice Film Festival “The Whale” received 2022.

A Best Actor Oscar followed at the 2023 Oscars, cementing his place as comeback king.

Many have hailed this newfound critical acclaim as Brendan Frasernaissance (Brenaissance?), but how did the Canadian star become Hollywood’s darling again? And why is this such an emotional moment for the actor?

Continue reading: Brendan Fraser crowns comeback with Oscar win

Let us explain…

Brendan Fraser’s resurgence explained in 11 points

VENICE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 04: Director Darren Aronofsky and Brendan Fraser attend

Director Darren Aronofsky and Brendan Fraser attend the red carpet of ‘The Whale’ at the 79th Venice International Film Festival. (Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

What’s behind it? Brendan Fraser stars in The Whale, and it’s his first starring role in a major film in over a decade. The film was met with a standing ovation in Venice, and critics praised Fraser. But what has he been doing all this time?

Brendan Fraser is joined by Sean Astin and Pauly Shore in a scene from the film

Brendan Fraser is groomed by Sean Astin and Pauly Shore in a scene from the 1992 film Encino Man. (Encino Man Productions/Getty Images)

Let’s go back to the beginning. Brendan Fraser became a household name when he played a scruffy caveman in the 1992 comedy California Man. That same year, he starred opposite Matt Damon in the acclaimed sports drama School Ties, and his star was on the rise.

box office star. Fraser enjoyed his first big hit with Disney’s live-action George of the Jungle. The following year he proved he was more than just a pretty face when he received rave reviews for his dark role in Bill Condon’s Gods and Monsters opposite Ian McKellen.

Rachel Weisz, John Hannah and Brendan Fraser in 1999's The Mummy. (Universal)

Rachel Weisz, John Hannah and Brendan Fraser in 1999’s The Mummy. (Universal)

the big time Fraser joined the ranks of Hollywood’s A-list in 1999 when he starred in The Mummy. Fraser played an Indiana Jones guy in this swashbuckling action fantasy, and Fraser’s innate charm was put to good use and a long-running franchise was born.

An actor with reach. Fraser continued to deliver great performances in heavyweight dramas like The Quiet American and Crash while cultivating a blockbuster career in Looney Tunes: Back In Action, Bedazzled, Journey To The Center of the Earth and several Mummy sequels.

380071 01 Actress Elizabeth Hurley and actor Brendan Fraser stars in the new movie from 20th Century Fox

Elizabeth Hurley and actor Brendan Fraser star on 20th Century Fox blinded. (Getty Images)

Things begin to unravel for Fraser. He publicly divorced in 2007 and faced health issues while filming The Mummy 3. His injuries led to multiple surgeries, including back surgery, a partial knee replacement, and vocal cord repair.

Me too. In 2018, Fraser claimed he was sexually assaulted by the then-president of the HFPA (Hollywood Foreign Press Association) in 2003. He claims he was blacklisted by the HFPA after the incident. The attack, divorce, health problems and the death of his mother led to depression.

Brendan Fraser said the cast of

Brendan Fraser said the cast of No sudden movement were brought closer to COVID-19 through filming. (Warner Bros)

Fraser returns. Hollywood called again in 2016 and he got roles in The Affair, Trust and the DC Comics series Doom Patrol. He appeared in No Sudden Move and had a starring role in the canceled Batgirl, but it’s The Whale that seems to be cementing his comeback for the masses.

Brendan Fraser plays a reclusive, overweight man in Darren Aronofsky's drama The Whale.  (A24)

Brendan Fraser plays a reclusive, overweight man in Darren Aronofsky’s drama The Whale. (A24)

Come back. After (briefly) reviving Mickey Rourke’s career with The Wrestler, Darren Aronofksy did the same for Fraser with The Whale. The actor has transformed into a reclusive £600 English teacher trying to reconnect with his life after years of grief.

Fraser landed his first Oscar win for The Whale., but he’s not resting on his laurels. He has already directed his next two films: Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, starring De Niro, and DiCaprio and Brothers, starring Peter Dinklage and Josh Brolin.

benevolence. Fraser thrived in the late ’90s and early 2000s, and its core audience remains incredibly loyal. He appears to be a humble and lovable movie star, unencumbered by the trappings of Hollywood fame: long live the Brenaissance!

The Whale is in theaters now. See him get a standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival.

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