Once upon a time in the olden days of the 1990's and early '00's, a man named Brendan Fraser reigned supreme. Starting his film career in the early '90's, Fraser became a household name when he caveman grunted and grinned his way into hearts in his first breakout role in "Encino Man."
Fraser's good looks, sweet smile and charm quickly rocketed him to superstardom and before the world knew it, he was everywhere. Until very suddenly, he wasn't. Fraser dropped off the radar all of a sudden in the '00's, leaving fans stunned and confused.
Fraser's story has been breaking hearts everywhere and putting them back together again in one fell swoop as the once-superstar makes his return to Hollywood and the world is embracing him. Over the weekend at the Venice Film Festival, Fraser received a whopping 6-minute standing ovation, showing just how glad the world is to see this man return to a throne he was wrongfully unseated from.
Brendan Fraser Receives a 6-Minute Standing Ovation for his Role in 'The Whale'
With characteristic humility and charm, Brendan Fraser looked absolutely gob smacked after a Venice Film Festival audience screening his new film, "The Whale," stood to give the actor applause accolades for six solid minutes.
Moved to tears, Fraser waved and bent over, struggling with emotions, at one point making a "aw, shucks" gesture.
NPR writes, "Seeing Fraser who was so 'universally loved' by the public for so long receive praise resonated with fans, according to film and media historian Chris Yogerst.
'It's almost like the public was just waiting for this moment,' said Yogerst. 'Everyone has missed him. Seeing him back on the screen, it was like an old friend was back.'
Nostalgia certainly plays into the joy this moment brings to some people, Yogerst said.
'I mean, I'm still nostalgic about the silly remake of Bedazzled,' a Fraser movie with Elizabeth Hurley that came out in 2000, Yogerst said."
It was a glorious moment of validation for a man who once had it all, only to watch it get snatched away by some very bad people.
Where Has Brendan Fraser Been?
So if he wasn't making more hit movies, where exactly has Brendan Frasier been? The answer is heartbreaking, and infuriating.
In 2018, GQ ran an article titled, "What ever happened to Brendan Fraser?" NPR explains, "In it, Fraser discussed years of suffering from injuries (sustained from performing stunts during filming of The Mummy franchise), subsequent surgeries, personal loss and a divorce. Most startling were details Fraser shared of being allegedly groped by Philip Berk, a former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Berk told GQ that Fraser's account was 'a total fabrication.'
Fraser in the GQ article openly questioned whether he was actually blacklisted from Hollywood because he came forward about his experience."
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, it seems clear that the answer is yes - Fraser was elbowed out of the limelight by the "good ol' boys" club which maintains each other's secrets at great cost to their victims. Fellow actor Anthony Rapp almost saw his career tank similarly after coming forward with accusations against Kevin Spacey. But Berk was significantly more powerful in Hollywood circles than Spacey, and Fraser saw his name drop from top-billing to almost persona non grata.
That's not to say Fraser has been completely absent from acting. In 2019, Fraser appeared behind the metal mask of Clint Steele in the dark DC comedy series, Doom Patrol which has 3 seasons and counting so far.
But his role as Robotman is a far cry from the George of the Jungle and The Mummy roles of the '90's, and fans have been eager to see him get behind the leading man role again.
"The Whale" isn't exactly a return to the glory days as titular character George or Rick O'Connell, but it's good to see Fraser finally receiving the praise and money he should never have been cut off from in the first place.
The Controversy Around 'The Whale': Why Some Call it 'Fatphobic'
Unfortunately, many of Fraser's fans have mixed feelings about the film he's returned to prominence on the back of.
"The Whale" follows a 600lb man as he attempts to reconcile with his daughter, and the film has been slapped with accusations of "fatphobia."
Newsweek explains, "Broadway star Pia Glenn wrote in a series of tweets on Sunday that 'The praise for The Whale, the fat suit, the 'revolutionary' fat suit enhancing CGI, terms like 'morbidly obese;' is disgusting &dehumanizing. It's not lost on me that the praise for his performance is in making a fat person seem human.'"
But whether or not people are feeling the film, they are definitely feeling Fraser. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was among Fraser's legion fans welcoming him back to the limelight, writing on Twitter, "Man this makes me so happy to see this beautiful ovation for Brendan. He supported me coming into his Mummy Returns franchise for my first ever role, which kicked off my Hollywood career. Rooting for all your success brother and congrats to my bud Darren Aronofsky. #TheWhale 👏🏾."
And so it goes with Fraser. Everywhere you look, you find stories of people who adored him from afar or who worked with him who find him to be a man of true character, kindness, and quality - and it's good to see him enjoying the result of his dedication and refusal to give up on himself.
People writes, "Ahead of the film's premiere Sunday, Fraser detailed the 'undulating feeling' of starring as Charlie in the movie — for which he underwent a huge physical transformation to play the 600-lb. man.
'I think it's poetic that the trauma he carries is manifest in the physical weight of his body,' he said ahead of the film's premiere, according to The Hollywood Reporter. 'I needed to learn to absolutely move in a new way. I developed muscles I did not know that I had. I even felt a sense of vertigo, when at the end of the day all the appliances were removed, just as you would feel stepping off the boat onto the dock here in Venice — that undulating feeling.'"
Although he's referring to his role in the movie, Fraser's words are perhaps prophetic about his own journey - learning to move in a new way through a world that tried to hide him, but failed to dull his shine in the end.