Brendan Fraser | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Brendan Fraser

Brendan James Fraser, actor (born at Indianapolis, Indiana 3 Dec 1968). Brendan Fraser rose to fame in the 1990s as a handsome leading man in comedies, dramas, and action/adventure movies, such as Encino Man (1992), School Ties (1992), Airheads (1994), George of the Jungle (1997), Gods and Monsters (1998), and The Mummy (1999) and its sequels. He was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in 2006 and won an Academy Award for his lead performance in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale (2022) in 2023.

Brendan Fraser at the TIFF premiere of his film The Whale.

Early Life

Brendan Fraser was born to Canadian parents and attended Upper Canada College in Toronto, from which he graduated in 1987. Acting began to appeal to the young Fraser after a visit to London's West End theatre district. Soon after graduating from Seattle's Cornish College of the Arts theatre program in 1990, Fraser moved to Los Angeles and found work in film and television.

Career Highlights

In 1991, Fraser was cast as Link, a recently defrosted caveman brought back to life by hapless, drug-addled youths in the drive-in comedy Encino Man. The film's commercial success, and Fraser's standout performance singled out by both critics and audiences, led to numerous supporting roles for the young actor in many mainstream productions including the period prep school drama School Ties (1992) and the screwball comedies With Honors (1994) and Airheads (1994).

His breakout role came in 1997 as George in Disney's feature film adaptation of the classic cartoon television series George of the Jungle. While within the genus of the whimsical troglodyte comedy, it was an even greater success than Fraser's previous attempt in the field and received a much warmer critical reception. He went on to earn praise for his performance in the romantic Still Breathing (1997) and in his dramatic role in the Oscar-nominated James Whale biopic Gods and Monsters (1998), in which a friendship develops between an older homosexual man and his young heterosexual gardener, played by Fraser.

Fraser is most widely known as the violent but inoffensive archaeologist/adventurer Rick O'Connell in 1999's The Mummy. Conceived as a blithe homage to classic Hollywood horror films, it was one of the top international hits of that year and spawned two sequels with Fraser reprising his role.

He also starred as the incompetent Canadian Mountie Dudley Do-Right (1999), a cartoonist in Monkeybone (2001) and a lovestruck nerd who makes a pact with the devil in Bedazzled (2000). He appeared as a CIA agent in Vietnam in The Quiet American (2002) and, as part of an ensemble in the Oscar-winning Crash, which examines race relations in the US, Fraser shared with his fellow cast members the 2006 Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performance. For the 3-D Journey to the Centre of the Earth (2008), Fraser not only starred as a scientist turned action hero but was the film's executive producer.

As a highly successful movie star, Fraser's grand physicality and puppyish deportment have endeared him to the always family-conscious Hollywood studios. On television he has appeared in a recurring role in the series Scrubs and has provided the voice for animated characters in The Simpsons and King of the Hill. In 2010, he made his Broadway debut in Elling, a comedy about two mismatched Norwegian roommates adjusting to independence after their release from a mental institution.

Brendan Fraser, Harrison Ford

Fraser played a bookbinder in the fantasy adventure film Inkheart (2009), adapted from the book by the same name. He starred alongside Harrison Ford in Extraordinary Measures (2010), inspired by the true story of a father who goes to great lengths to finance medical research into a cure for his children's terminal disease. He co-starred with Brooke Shields and a variety of animals in Furry Vengeance (2010), a family comedy set in Oregon. HairBrained (2012) saw him back in the world of screwball comedy as a 41-year-old college freshman who befriends a genius teenage prodigy.

Though Fraser continued to act fairly steadily in films and TV series throughout the 2010s, his popular hits were scarce and his star power appeared to be diminished. In 2018, he revealed publicly that he had been sexually assaulted by a senior member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in 2003, and that the incident had since been “causing me emotional and personal distress.” Though this came in the wake of the #MeToo movement and the increased accountability it brought to sexual misconduct in Hollywood, Fraser has claimed that going public with his abuse derailed his career. He managed to launch a highly successful comeback in 2022 with the release of Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale. Fraser’s widely acclaimed lead performance won numerous awards, including a Screen Actors Guild Award and an Academy Award for best actor.