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From The Mummy to George of the Jungle, what happened to Brendan Fraser and why did he stop acting? | Explainer

For a while, Brendan Fraser was everywhere.

In the late 1990s and early noughties, the actor became a major movie star, with roles in films like George of the Jungle, The Mummy franchise, Encino Man and Crash.

But in the mid-2000s, after reaching arguably the height of his career, Fraser disappeared from Hollywood completely.

Now he’s well and truly back in the spotlight, thanks to his highly-praised performance in Darren Aronofsky’s psychological drama, The Whale

The actor has bagged an Oscar nomination for his performance and recently won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actor and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor – his first major award wins in 17 years.

So where did the actor go after all those years? Let’s take a look…

Watch the trailer for The Whale above.

READ MORE: Brendan Fraser fights tears after first major award win in 17 years

Brendan Fraser attends "The Whale" & "Filming Italy Best Movie Achievement Award". 2022 Venice Film Festival.
Brendan Fraser on the red carpet at the premiere of ‘The Whale’ at the Venice Film Festival, 2022. (Getty)

READ MORE: Brendan Fraser ‘starved himself’ for George of the Jungle

What is Brendan Fraser’s role in The Whale?

In Aronofsky’s film, Fraser plays Charlie, a “reclusive English teacher” living with severe obesity and struggling with binge-eating disorder.

To play the tormented lead character, Fraser wore a prosthetic suit that added anywhere from 22 kg to 136 kg given the scene. He reportedly spent as much as six hours in the makeup chair each day to fully transform into the character.

In an interview with 9Honey, Fraser admitted he often felt vertigo when taking off the heavy suit.

Brendan Fraser in Darren Arronofsky’s new film, ‘The Whale’. (A24)

“At the end of the day, when all the apparatus came off, I felt a little changed somehow too, almost… like vertigo. If you were to step from a boat onto a dock, you know, you’re still moving,” he said.

“Playing Charlie moved me. You need to be an incredibly strong person, mentally and physically, to inhabit that physical being.”

In an interview with Variety, he talked about the restrictiveness of the suit itself.

“The torso piece was almost like a strait jacket with sleeves that went on, airbrushed by hand, to look identical as would human skin, right down to the hand-punched hair,” he revealed.

He added: “I developed muscles I did not know I had”.

Brendan Fraser at the screening of The Whale at London Film Festival in London, England on 11th October 2022
Fraser speaking with 9Honey at the premiere of The Whale in London in 2022. (Colin Hart)

An Oscar nomination, two award wins and plenty of praise

Fraser memorably received a six-minute standing ovation for his performance in The Whale at this year’s Venice Film Festival, which he reportedly “sobbed” through.

Vox reviewed the film, writing that Fraser gives a “brilliant, gutting performance”. The many glowing reviews that have followed have only confirmed this.

In January 2023, Fraser bagged the Best Actor gong at the Critics’ Choice Awards for his performance in the film.

Taking to the stage for his moment, the actor grew emotional.

“I was in the wilderness, and I probably should have left a trail of bread crumbs, but you found me,” he said from the stage to Aronofsky.

Brendan Fraser accepts the award for best actor for "The Whale" at the 28th annual Critics Choice Awards at The Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, in Los Angeles.
Fraser delivered an impassioned speech after winning the Best Actor award at the Critics’ Choice Awards this year. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

“And like all the best directors, you merely just showed me where to go to get to where I needed to be,.”

Read more about Fraser’s speech here.

He also nabbed the SAG award for Oustanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, beating two major sources of competition, Austin Butler and Colin Farrell.

Upon his win, Fraser shared some emotional words.

“I will treasure this (award), but never more than what I used to keep in my wallet, which was my SAG card that I earned in 1991,” he said of his union card.

“It made me feel like I belonged. We’re actors, we all want to belong to a tribe, and that’s when I found where I belonged. And if you told that guy back then that I’d be standing right here right now, I would not have believed you.”

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But he’s not attending every awards show…

While Hollywood’s stars gathered together for the annual Golden Globes ceremony in early January this year, Fraser failed to tag along.

His lack of appearance wasn’t due to illness or injury, but a patent snub to the ceremony and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, who run it.

Director Darren Aronofsky and Brendan Fraser attend "The Whale" UK Premiere during the 66th BFI London Film Festival at The Royal Festival Hall on October 11, 2022 in London, England.
Fraser with The Whale director Darren Aronofsky. (Getty Images for BFI)

In the months leading up to the day, Fraser explained he would “not participate” in the awards show after he alleged in 2018 that former Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) President Philip Berk sexually assaulted him.

“It’s because of the history that I have with them [the HFPA],” Fraser told GQ Magazine.

“And my mother didn’t raise a hypocrite. You can call me a lot of things, but not that. No, I will not participate.”

Why Brendan Fraser stopped acting

In 2018, Fraser claimed to be “blacklisted” by Hollywood. Fraser spoke out in an interview with GQ alleging he was sexually assaulted by a former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Fraser claimed HFPA’s Philip Berk assaulted him at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2003. This alleged incident caused Fraser to spiral into a depression.

“His left-hand reaches around grabs my ass cheek, and one of his fingers touches me in the taint. And he starts moving it around,” the actor said. “I felt ill. I felt like a little kid. I felt like there was a ball in my throat. I thought I was going to cry.”

Berk denied the claim in an email to GQ, saying “Mr Fraser’s version is a total fabrication.”

Brendan Fraser at the Academy Awards in 1999.
Brendan Fraser at the Academy Awards in 1999. (Getty)

After the ordeal, Fraser claimed he was rarely invited to the Golden Globes which the HFPA hosts.

“I don’t know if this curried disfavour with the group, with the HFPA. But the silence was deafening,” Fraser said. “The phone does stop ringing in your career, and you start asking yourself why. There are many reasons, but was this one of them? I think it was.”

Fraser believed the incident made him retreat from public life.

READ MORE: Brendan Fraser gets emotional as fans support his comeback

Brendan Fraser at the Golden Globes in 2003.
Brendan Fraser at the Golden Globes in 2003. (Getty)

READ MORE: What happened to Katherine Heigl?

In the GQ piece, Fraser also discussed being in and out of the hospital for seven years for multiple surgeries.

He recalled his role in the Mummy films took a huge physical toll on his body, saying, “I was put together with tape and ice… I was building an exoskeleton for myself daily.”

In 2007, the star’s difficult split from his ex-wife Afton Smith dealt another blow. The former couple finalised their divorce in 2008, and he was ordered to pay child support and alimony for their three children.

By 2013, Fraser asked for his alimony to be reduced as he could no longer afford the US$900,000 (approx. $1.2 million) a year in payments.

He petitioned the court for a reduced payment due to a lack of work.

How old is Brendan Fraser now?

Brendan was born on December 3, 1968. He is 54 years old.

What is Brendan Fraser doing now?

Fraser is on a major comeback.

In June 2021, he made a rare red carpet appearance at Tribeca Film Festival for his movie No Sudden Move.

As well as his Oscar-nominated role in The Whale, Fraser is also about to start filming a Martin Scorsese-directed film Killers of the Flower Moon alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.

His other big-screen role in Behind the Curtain of Night is in post-production.

Brendan Fraser
Brendan Fraser became a major movie star in the ’90s. (Getty Images for AT&T AUDIENCE N)

Prior to his career resurgence, he starred in the anthology drama Trust (2018) and the political thriller Condor (2018).

He also had a short stint as John Gunther on the hit drama, The Affair (2016).

In October 2021, it was announced Fraser was cast in DC’s upcoming Batgirl movie. He starred as the villainous Firefly in the film, which controversially, no one got to see since it was mysteriously canned by Warner Bros last year.

How old was Brendan Fraser in George of the Jungle?

Fraser was 29 years old in George of the Jungle.

Brendan Fraser was the breakout star in George of the Jungle.
Brendan Fraser was the breakout star in George of the Jungle. (Getty)

What is Brendan Fraser’s net worth?

According to, Fraser is reportedly worth US$20 million (approx. $27 million).

Does Brendan Fraser have a partner?

Fraser is believed to be in a relationship with hairstylist and make-up artist Jeanne Moore, who has been accompanying him at various red carpet events and awards shows over the last year.

Moore was even filmed applauding him from the crowd after his Critics’ Choice win in January.

Brendan Fraser and girlfriend Jeanne Moore on "The Whale" red carpet during the 79th Venice Film Festival
Jeanne Moore and Brendan Fraser arrive for “The Whale” red carpet during the 79th Venice Film Festival on September 04, 2022 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images) (Getty)

Prior to his relationship with Moore, Fraser was married to Afton Smith.

In 1993, Fraser and Smith met at a barbeque at Winona Ryder‘s house.

The couple married on September 27, 1998, after dating for many years. They welcomed three sons: Griffin in 2002, Holden in 2004, and Leland in 2006.

Brendan Fraser and Afton Smith.
Brendan Fraser and Afton Smith were married between 1998 and 2008. (Getty)

In 2007, Fraser’s publicist revealed the couple had called it quits.

“They continue to maintain a close and caring friendship,” Fraser’s rep said in a statement.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit their website. In an emergency, call 000.

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