Brendan Fraser Speaks Out About His Big Hollywood Hiatus

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From Jungle To Drop Out

Fraser burst onto the scene in the early 1990s, deftly switching between comedies and dramas, which only increased the magnetism producers felt towards him. However, nearly two decades after his big break, Fraser slipped out of public consciousness.

Ticking Upwards

By 2004, Fraser seemed to be a ubiquitous force in Hollywood, having headlined his only blockbuster franchise in addition to appearing in critically acclaimed dramas. That year, he was just one of the celebrities to take part in the incredible collaboration that resulted in the Academy Award-winning Crash. After dazzling audiences time and again, fans couldn’t wait to see what film Fraser would release next, only to discover that they would be in for a very long wait.

Life Of A Work Horse

Fraser had already had a stunning amount of output in the short time he’d been working professionally. One of the most challenging jobs he found was the action thriller, The Mummy. Fraser had never been shy about throwing himself into stunt work, which didn’t change with The Mummy. Audiences were usually impressed to discover the physical toll the actor was willing to subject himself to in the course of filming. Unbeknownst them, such strenuous work was having an effect on Brendan.

Alternating Sides

Fraser was careful to diversify his resume, and producers were happy to let him do so, finding agility in front of the camera that few possess. Even as Fraser was wholly absorbed into the characters of his films, he demonstrated a quality that won him a number of roles in similar veins, despite lesser known turns in starkly different roles. Fraser found himself sucked into the Hollywood grind constantly hoping to better his career. It was not an easy position to find himself in.

Out Of The Box

Some of the work that would more directly lead to Brendan’s downfall would also help him to break out of the mold producers seemed too imposing on him. Many of Fraser’s earliest films from Encino Man to George of the Jungle featured the main character seeing our world for the first time. In part due to Brendan’s eagerness to smash his way through films, he slowly managed to accrue a list of credits in other genres.

Standing On Top

When anyone feels their career is only a downhill spiral from where they’re currently standing, it’s only natural that they might feel reluctant to continue. Brendan’s first break from acting was a mere blip in his busy schedule, and two years later, he had several new films premiering. One couldn’t have been faulted for thinking he’s worked so continuously, especially given that he returned to his role in The Mummy in 2008. For Brendan, however, he was in the thick of it.

Bringing Him Back

When Fraser surprised fans of The Affair with a new guest role, they were pleased to be dazzled by his acting chops once more, but they couldn’t help but wonder why he was playing such a small role when he had such clear leading man potential. Fans became even more curious about what was going on behind the scenes when he embarked on a press tour for the show that same year. The interviews stuck out for a distinct reason.

Out Of Sorts

2016 was already an odd year for Fraser, as audiences were shocked to discover that two of his most famous movies were already getting reboots, and Brendan would not be associated with them in the slightest. It begged the question whether he was simply incapable of handling the film, or whether he chose to keep his distance from two projects on which he’d made his name. Fraser’s press appearances only caused his fans to feel more alarmed.

Heart On His Sleeve

Fraser’s first press interview for the The Affair became an infamous look at a former A-list star, who seemed, at the time, to be past his prime. Brendan’s whole demeanor seemed to be deflated, and fans who saw the video couldn’t understand what had happened to the actor. They began to search for information about his past that would inform them on his situation, but the truth wasn’t as easy to find as they’d initially expected.

[post_page_titleRebounding With Wisdom[/post_page_title]

If Fraser’s 2016 interview became the foundation of internet jokes, it wouldn’t have come as a surprise if that fleeting moment spelled the end of Fraser’s career. Shortly after The Affair, Fraser seemed to fade right back into the shadows, before suddenly finding his career experiencing a rebirth this year. After more than five years with only a smattering of small projects on his plate, Fraser has returned to the screen, cementing his transition from  young heartthrob to that of a seasoned veteran.

 

Dividing Line

Another reason Fraser is so enchanted by his New York home is that his three sons live relatively close by with their mother, just over the Connecticut border. Fraser met his ex-wife in 1993 but found their union dissolving after nearly a decade of marriage and three children. Fraser never sought to hide his split, but he certainly didn’t let it become a public fiasco the way many other celebrity breakups do.

Speculation Runs Amok

It was this divorce that became the subject of speculation after Fraser’s ill-fated 2016 interview. Fans were convinced that 9 years after the split was finalized, Fraser still hadn’t managed to move on from the heartbreak. As far as they could find, it was the only reasonable explanation for his downtrodden appearance on the press circuit, but as it would turn out, they were completely off the mark. Until he was back on track, however, Fraser wasn’t quite ready to speak out.

At Loss’s Mercy

Brendan Fraser may have been working steadily through the last decade, but it wasn’t always easy. As he was finally pushed into making a press tour for The Affair, in which his arc only lasted for three episodes, he was very clearly in no state to speak to the public, but there was a simple reason behind his melancholy appearance. His mother had died only days previously, but Fraser had not even been in a frame of mind to cancel the interview.

Feeling Time’s Arrow

Fraser recalled in his recent interview with GQ how he sat on his stool, waiting for the interview to begin, and could only feel the weight of time on his shoulders. “I buried my mom,” Fraser shared. “I think I was in mourning, and I didn’t know what that meant.” Then he added, as if reliving those painful moments, years later, “I wasn’t quite sure what the format was. And I felt like: ‘Man, I got f****** old. Damn, this is the way it’s done now?”

Bouncing Back To Life

Though Fraser was deeply affected by his mother’s passing, as most would be, he wasn’t going to let his grief stop him from getting his career back on track. In fact, the bulk of his hiatus has already taken place by then, and 2016 saw Fraser on the upswing once more. It had been a tough decade for the actor, who’d once been hailed as one of the foremost prospects for leading men to take the reigns in the early 90s.

Bursting The Scene

Brendan Fraser’s star shone bright from the moment he stepped on screen. His first significant film role, School Ties, showed off the newest panel of young male actors who showed the promise to become A-list stars. Fraser was surprised to see how quickly the demand for him rose. He would quickly transition from supporting actor to the star of his own films. One thing was clear: Fraser was as talented onscreen as he was good looking.

Life In The Jungle

Piggybacking off the success of the template of Encino Man, Fraser was tapped to head up George of the Jungle. While the settings of the two films couldn’t have been more different, the character in its essence was the same. There was another perk to the film, of course, as George’s costume left a lot of skin out in the open. Fraser can look back and see that he was in the best shape of his life. That wouldn’t always be the case.

Catching Up

As Brendan’s 30s began to wane, he found that the strenuous work he’d always thrown himself into was taking its toll on his body. Only in hindsight, he can recognize how his over-eager approach to taking on anything asked of him would take him out of the game as he aged. His constant willingness to do his own stunts contributed significantly to his decision to drop out of the spotlight, though in many ways, it wasn’t a choice at all.

Loose At The Seams

One of the things that made Fraser so appealing as an action star was his sheer size. As he threw his weight around on set, literally, he found that as he aged, his body began to struggle to heal from the trauma he was putting it through. First, he discovered he required back surgery in order to relieve severe nerve pain he was experiencing. The surgery meant that Fraser would have to take some time off.

Increasing The Load

As it turned out, Fraser had put so much stress on his body in his younger years that he’d need more than one surgery in order to correct the many health problems he’d incurred. His first back surgery wasn’t successful, so a year later, he found himself back under the knife only a year later. However hopeful he may have been about the outcome of his second back surgery, it would turn out the operations were only the tip of the iceberg.

Wiser Than His Years

Fraser was continuing to undergo medical procedures generally performed on those who are far older than his years. Most knee replacements aren’t performed until patients are in their 70s, but by his early 40s, Fraser found he needed partial knee replacements in order to be able to move almost normally again. Even so, his back was still giving him problems, despite his two prior operations. He was going to need to make more changes in the future.

Finding His Voice

One of the last in his series of surgeries was to repair his larynx, which may be better known as vocal folds. There are a number of reasons why someone might need to fix their voice, and performers, especially those working mostly on stage find that overuse can cause calluses that cause severe hoarseness. Another famous performer who underwent vocal surgery was Julie Andrews. Fraser has kept mum on what exactly was repaired, but it hasn’t seemed to affect his recent performances.

Making A Recovery

All in all, Brendan was spending more time in the hospital than out of it. It took nearly seven years to get his body in order, which made it difficult for Fraser to take on too many big roles. During that same period of time, he was in the middle of splitting from his wife, adding an additional emotional burden to the star. While it’s understandable that Fraser was having a difficult time, in truth, the problems started long before.

Against Himself

In his GQ interview, Fraser discusses the moment in Looney Toons: Back in Action in which he punches himself in the face. For audiences, the moment was funny and meta, as the actor grappled with playing a character intended to be a stuntman for himself. He explains that the moment that pushed him into wanting to film that scene started during the development of the Superman movie that would eventually star Brandon Routh.

Blessing In Disguise

Prior to the remakes that have been released this century, the role of Superman was oft coveted by young male actors, though the role also seemed to carry a curse, given the fates of the two most famous men to play that part. Fraser was one such man under consideration for the new movie, which was supposed to be directed by Brett Ratner. The movie never panned out under his direction, but for Fraser the loss was more personal.

New Lease On Work

Despite the setbacks that pulled him away from the work he loved for so many years, Fraser is genuinely excited about his new, more adult roles. Fraser is now starring in a TV series called Trust, which details the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III. Fraser is far from the only big name to appear in the series, as he’s working alongside several other Hollywood greats like Donald Sutherland and Academy Award winner, Hilary Swank.

Keeping To Himself

Even though he’s happy to find himself with a career that is once again on the upswing, Fraser still holds on to the rural retreat he purchased during more turbulent days. Unlike many stars of his caliber, Fraser prefers the quiet solitude of Westchester County in New York, where he has land for activities like raising and riding horses, as well as archery. It seems the many stunts he performed in his younger years have paid off, even though they nearly ended his career.

Cherry On Top

Fraser explained his feelings after the film fell through to GQ, “You feel like: ‘I didn’t measure up. Oh, I failed.’ And the truth is, you didn’t. That’s erroneous. That’s wrong. It’s not true. You didn’t fail. You’re not. But even if you—if like, as I sit here and say that to you right now, I feel like, ‘Well, no, no, the proof’s right there.’” Actors learn to develop a thick skin. There was a reason why Fraser took the disappointment so hard.

Finally Letting Go

As Fraser eventually revealed in his telling 2018 GQ interview, before it went to press, he had a confession to make. The depression he’d suffered from during his lost years stemmed from a harrowing incident that had occurred in 2003. During a lunch thrown by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the same group that puts on the Golden Globes, Fraser was touched inappropriately on his bottom by the then president, Philip Berk. Fraser was traumatized by the moment.

Horse With A Name

While Brendan was filming Texas Rising, which would debut on the History Channel in 2015, he came upon a horse in Mexico that needed a little extra love. “Without pretending that the animal is a human,” Fraser told GQ, “he looked like he needed help. Like: Get me out of here, man.” Fraser was inspired by the way this horse, Pecas, meaning freckles, was so obviously bullied by the other horses, that he took it upon himself to rescue him.

Cogs In A Machine

Fraser had other plans for the horse. Though he had a farm all prepared for him once the horse disembarked, he was hoping the horse might be something his sons enjoyed. Fraser also revealed in that interview that his eldest son is autistic, but his two younger brothers have always banded together for his care. “[E]ver since they were small, one was always the spokesperson and the other was the enforcer.” Fraser was ready to put his plan to work.

Riding High On Silver

Though Fraser hopes that his eldest son Griffen might one day ride Pecas, he also saw that helping to care for the horse was extremely therapeutic for his son. “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… ” Fraser explained to the magazine.

HFPA Answers The Call

After Fraser’s revelation regarding Philip Berk, The HFPA released a counter-statement that read, “The HFPA stands firmly against sexual harassment and the type of behavior described in this article. Over the years we’ve continued a positive working relationship with Brendan, which includes announcing Golden Globe nominees, attending the ceremony and participating in press conferences. This report includes alleged information that the HFPA was previously unaware of and at this time we are investigating further details surrounding the incident.”

Searching For Justic

Despite the earlier statement that the HFPA released immediately following the publication of the interview, Fraser was unimpressed by the conclusions drawn after the association began an investigation into the incident. They wrote, “Although it was concluded that Mr. Berk inappropriately touched Mr. Fraser, the evidence supports that it was intended to be taken as a joke and not as [an] advance.” Fraser responded to GQ once more, “I don’t get the joke…I’m the only one who would know where I was touched on my body.

Hiding Their Cards

After the HFPA publicized the results of the investigation, they asked Fraser to sign off on it, which required him to accept that nothing had really happened, but they refused to show him their full report. Despite claiming they want Fraser to heal, he had nothing but criticism for their actions. “Can I please see this report? What is it?” Fraser asked. “They commissioned an investigation. They received their report. And they’re not giving any details about it, and they’re not giving up the report itself.”

Fighting The Good Fight

Fraser isn’t ready to give up, even though his saga hasn’t yet come to a satisfying conclusion. Even if the HFPA isn’t ready to disavow Philip Berk, Fraser has begun to publicly call for him to step down from the association, but his hopes aren’t too high. “I think I’m just the first brick in the path.” he explained to GQ. “Maybe someone else will put another brick down and the path will continue on. I don’t know.”

Racing Forward

Though it took him 15 years to make the incident public, as more women came forward with their own harrowing tales of their treatment at the hands of powerful Hollywood men, Fraser was ready to speak out. He had told only a handful of people after it occurred, but now he wanted to let the whole story be told in order to keep moving forward. Unburdened by the story he kept to himself for so long, Fraser feels lighter and happier than ever.

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