This episode of WTF Happened to this Celebrity is written by Taylor James Johnson & Brad Hamerly
Once upon a time, we here at Joblo launched a new series aimed at digging into what happened to celebrities that were once on the A-list only to see their star power diminish over the years. Our goal was to shine a light on the people that make us say “I haven’t seen them in a while, I wonder WTF happened to them?” But a lot can happen in three years, one second you are the subject of the pilot episode of WTF Happened to this Celebrity and the next you are an Academy Award Winning actor!
But as always we must begin at the beginning and for us that beginning began on September 19, 2019 when we posted our very first WTF Happened to This Celebrity video. We wanted to start off with a bang, focusing on a celebrity that seemed to be universally loved but had fallen out of the limelight in recent years, and there was no one more perfect than Brendan Fraser for our pilot episode. But when launching into the research for Fraser, I wasn’t expecting the darkness his personal life had endured that took a toll on his professional life. By the end of the video, I wanted nothing more than for Fraser to have the comeback he so deserved. So as we start looking back at some of our previous WTFers, its time we ask the age old question: WTF happened to Brendan Fraser… you know, since the last time we asked WTF Happened to Brendan Fraser! Part Two!
When we last left off, Fraser was just bouncing back from a life out of the spot light, he was featured in some critically lauded TV series including The Affair, Doom Patrol, Condor and Trust, with Doom Patrol being the best received of the bunch as it ran for four seasons on HBO Max. It would seem Fraser’s career comeback was relegated to the small screen in projects that showcased his immense talent, but never truly entered the zeitgeist. On the big screen, Fraser’s name was being mentioned a lot, not for a movie he was in, but for a movie he had absolutely nothing to do with. In 2017, Universal decided they wanted to create a shared universe based on the the classic Monster films, the first film in this proposed Dark Universe was a new version of The Mummy starring Tom Cruise. It seemed like a surefire hit in theory, but when people saw the film, there seemed to be one consensus: The Mummy movies only work with Brendan Fraser! It made everyone miss Fraser’s presence on screen and realize that perhaps we all took him for granted.
It seemed this one two punch of a successful stint on a DC show: Doom Patrol, and the general public missing Fraser in the wake of an inferior Mummy film, helped filmmakers and studios see the potential in casting Fraser in more than just direct to video schlock like The Poison Rose (2019) opposite Morgan Freeman and John Travolta. One director who saw potential in him was none other than Academy Award Winning director Steven Soderbergh who cast Fraser in his HBO Max film No Sudden Move (2021) to play ill fated gangster Doug Jones. The film would receive overwhelmingly positive reviews with many singling out Brendan’s performance for praise and would be one more notch in the inevitable return of Brendan Fraser.
By October 2021, Brendan would be cast as the big bad guy for Warner Bros proposed direct to streaming film Batgirl, that would eventually be converted into a full blown $70 million budgeted big screen tent pole film. Among the vocal internet community, Batgirl was something to get excited about. Not only was it the return of Michael Keaton in his iconic Batman role, but it was also Brendan Fraser back on the big screen in a blockbuster action film. And then August 2022 came, and the movie world was shocked when Warner Bros announced that they had flat out cancelled the release of the film, which was nearly unheard of for a basically fully completed film, especially one with a built in audience already. Fraser would talk about the shock of the film being cancelled on an appearance on the Howard Stern show. It would seem the big screen Brennaissance would have to wait.
The year was 2012, Brendan Fraser was in the midst of a seemingly endless string of big screen and direct to video duds mostly filmed in Los Angeles. Little did he know that nearly 3000 miles away something was happening that would ultimately change his life.
A new play called The Whale was taking off on the off-broadway stages of the Playwrights Horizon theater. Of the many people to see the award winning play was Requiem For A Dream filmmaker Darren Aronofsky who desperately wanted to bring the story to the big screen, but due to never being able to figure out who could play the main role, saw those dreams remain on the back burner as he made films such as Noah and Mother!
But the longing to bring this intimate story to the big screen never left Aronofsky. And over the years he tried to picture what actor could convincingly portray the 600 pound lead character who desperately wants to reconnect with his estranged daughter. Aronofsky then the trailer for a 2006 Brazilian film called Journey To The End of the Night which featured Brendan Fraser in a far different type of role than we had seen him before, a brothel owning, compulsive gambler who is addicted to cocaine. Aronofsky says that he hadn’t seen many of Fraser’s films with the exception of The Mummy, but watching that trailer reminded him of the movie star talent Fraser possessed, and in that moment, he knew he had found his Charlie. And thank god he did, because rumor has it that at one point James Corden was going to star in the film when Tom Ford was going to direct.
Filming began on March 8, 2021 and ran for about a month in New York. During that time Fraser had to be fitted with his prosthetic suit that would eat up four hours everyday and weighed nearly 300 pounds. Fraser would do extensive research for the role making sure everything was authentic, even consulting with the Obesity Action Coalition and dance instructors to fully understand how a man of that physical condition would move.
The film would world premiere at the 79th Annual Venice International Film fest on September 4, 2022 and the video that came the next day was the start of Fraser’s climb to the top of the mountain. In the video, the always lovable Fraser stands in the aisle as the audience gives him, and the film, but mostly him, a six minute standing ovation. This was the performance everyone knew Brendan Fraser had in him since they first saw School Ties back in 1992 and Gods and Monsters in 1998. This wasn’t the resurrection of somebody who fell out of the public consciousness for bad behavior or backstage shenanigans, this was the resurrection of a performer who has never had a single bad word uttered about him, giving the performance of a lifetime, and the audience at the Venice Film Festival let him know how happy they were to have him back in the limelight.
The film would open on December 9, 2022 and would have the best limited opening of any movie in 2022 where it sold out all six screens it was playing on to the tune of $360,000 and would go on to make a very healthy $53.4 million worldwide based on just a $3 million budget.
From there, we got one of the most memorable Award Season runs in history as beloved performers such as Fraser, Ke Huy Quan, Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis continued racking up award after award and showing everyone why they were universally loved. For Fraser, he would rack up over 61 nominations resulting in 26 wins including becoming the first Canadian ever to win the Best Actor Oscar at the 95th Annual Academy Awards where he gave an incredibly heartfelt and sincere acceptance speech.
But here is where I am going to take myself to task for our original WTF Happened to Brendan Fraser video. In the video, around the 10:45 mark, I comment about the infamous “dorky clap” from the Golden Globes. I say that it is in that moment that we witnessed, in real time, the rest of Fraser’s career vanish, losing any street cred he had from his early cool guy roles. But, Icome to you with my hat in hand offering a mea culpa of sorts because in the last few months, in the lead up to the Academy Awards, it was Fraser’s loveably “dorky” traits that made everyone re-fall in love with him. It felt like Fraser wasn’t trying to be anyone but himself, and himself is a kind of dorky father who you can’t help but love. It is the reason that in our original video, on you tube, the place where anonymous vitriol lives and thrives, there wasn’t one single negative comment about Fraser. It was all love and respect for a performer the internet and the world at large missed immensely.
The good news is that this Brennaissance is just beginning as Fraser has a prominent role in Martin Scorsese’s upcoming epic film Killers of the Flower Moon alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro and appears alongside Josh Brolin and Peter Dinklage in the upcoming Twins-esque comedy Brothers. which we will go more into detail for Part Three! Cuz Brendan is showing no sign of slowing down – so we will always be asking what the f happened to Brendan Fraser cuz he’s a happening guy!
With an Oscar on his shelf and the world at large rooting him on, it seems there is nothing Brendan Fraser can’t do, perhaps now we can finally get that Encino Man sequel a green light! But as we said before, we can now fully reiterate: no one should give a fuck what the fuck happened to Brendan Fraser because Brendan Fraser is back… and doing just fine!
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/wtf-happened-to-brendan-fraser-part-2/