Trigger Warning: Mentions of Sexual Assault
Earlier this month, the A24 film “The Whale,” by “Black Swan” director Darren Aronofsky, premiered at the 79th Venice Film Festival. The film starring Brendan Fraser and Sadie Sink as a father and daughter had film buffs and the media abuzz. After receiving a six-minute standing ovation from attendees, Fraser was visibly overwhelmed with emotion. When the applause began, he remained seated before abashedly standing up to accept the praise. Many who have followed his tumultuous life and career are celebrating his grand return to film. It is official: Brendan Fraser is in his Brenaissance.
Although Fraser’s acting career began in 1988, he did not take on his most famous role until 10 years later. Fans who have kept up with his film accolades probably know him from the popular “The Mummy” trilogy (1999-2008). His iconic performance as Rick O’Connell still maintains its popularity as a signature part of the beloved action-fantasy series. In fact, the franchise was so successful, it prompted several spin-offs, adaptations and even a video game of the same name.
Of course, Fraser is also well-known for many other great performances, such as his roles in “School Ties” (1992) and “George of the Jungle” (1997), both of which he filmed before working on “The Mummy.” Although he never stopped acting, Fraser did not play any lead roles for years. One of his most notable appearances was as a supporting character in the 2021 film “No Sudden Move” directed by Steven Soderbergh. The film streamed on HBO Max and briefly brought attention to Fraser’s acting talents. Despite his list of great performances, many noticed his gradual disappearance from the media. In the past decade, news outlets have rarely discussed his name since an incident that was divulged in 2018.
In a GQ interview, Fraser disclosed that he’d been sexually assaulted in 2003 by the former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), Philip Berk. Berk denied the entire incident but was later fired in 2021 for racist comments. Though various individuals deny the sexual assault prompted Fraser’s “blacklisting,” many others disagree.
“I was blaming myself and felt miserable,” Fraser revealed regarding the assault. These ill feelings led to his reclusiveness and continuous personal struggles.
Unfortunately, Berk denied the truth and took zero accountability for his actions. The original incident soon turned into allegations, and in the years that followed, Fraser was often excluded (supposedly by coincidence) from the HFPA-hosted Golden Globes award ceremony. This of course took a toll on both his professional and personal life.
In 2009, Fraser went through a divorce after nine years of marriage; that same year, he faced the death of his mother who he tragically lost to cancer. Over the course of seven years, he also underwent several surgeries — including a partial knee replacement, laminectomy and a vocal cord surgery — that resulted from performing his own stunts; as an actor, Fraser has always devoted himself to his craft, completely immersing himself in his stunt work. All of these unfortunate events and personal health issues culminated in his depression and career-rut. Though Fraser’s acting career never really ended, his last lead role was in 2013.
However, his official return to the media and snagging the lead role in an Aronofsky film has since been dubbed his “Brenaissance” on TikTok. On the platform, the #Brenaissance has garnered over 106.1 million views and has been tagged in thousands of videos. In these videos, fans have displayed their support for the actor with fan edits, old movie clips and interview bits.
People from his original fanbase and newer individuals learning of his difficult past are making sure to voice their support for his comeback. Several videos are acknowledging the Venice Film Festival event and the wholesome work-relationship he seems to have with Sink, his co-star for “The Whale.” Many have taken notice of their adorable interactions on the red carpet and memorable cast interview moments. Sink even referred to Fraser as her “favorite human in the planet” after working with him.
The support via social media continues to show and his strong fanbase has high hopes for his return to cinema. After a difficult personal life that unfortunately rippled into his acting career, Brendan Fraser has truly taken part in a “Brenaissance.” The Oscar buzz surrounding “The Whale” shows major promise for his proper comeback to the film industry. Next, we will see more of his craft in Marin Scorsese’s upcoming film “Killers of the Flower Moon” (2023). Starring alongside big Hollywood names such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro should be signs of a proper initiation back into acting.