Actor Brendan Fraser has this weekend received a six-minute standing ovation for his turn in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale.
A video from the film’s premiere at the 2022 Venice International Film Festival shows Fraser tearfully acknowledging the applause after being encouraged to stand up by his castmates.
After said video went viral on Twitter, myself and many others found themselves equally teary-eyed to see Fraser, the bonafide star of the 1990s – whose disappearance from Hollywood left us perplexed – finally get a chance to re-enter cinema.
I’m a 90s kid, and for me, Brendan Fraser is ubiquitous with the decade. I have fond memories of walking into the local Video Ezy and seeing his face on almost every shelf – or at least taking up the wall of new releases (The Mummy, Blast from the Past, and Dudley Do Right were all released in 1999). I’m pretty sure I wore out our VHS copy of George of the Jungle after watching and rewinding it so many times. But just like the avatar, when we needed him most, he vanished.
The best of Brendan Fraser:
- George of the Jungle (1997)
- The Mummy (1999)
- Blast from the Past (1999)
- Scrubs (2004)
- Doom Patrol (2019)
Why did he suddenly drop out of movies? You may know the story already, but to quickly recap:
He was the victim of an alleged sexual assault in 2003 that ultimately made him retreat from Hollywood and movie-making altogether. He recounted his version of events to GQ in 2018.
I was so shocked and saddened to hear what had happened. When the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements gained momentum, his story would eventually join them, and galvanise me and many others to root for his comeback moment. The guy deserved a second chance.
There have been a couple of notable appearances of Fraser since then: as Sacred Heart patient Ben Sullivan in Scrubs (2004), a couple of voice acting gigs here and there, and more recently as Cliff Steele/Robotman in DC’s Doom Patrol.
None of these moments really felt like the ‘comeback’ we’d been waiting for. He barely shows his face in Doom Patrol, and even for a comic book/superhero property it’s pretty niche.
I did wonder for a second if wishing Brendan Fraser back into the zeitgeist was a futile effort – until this weekend.
The critical response to The Whale, in which Fraser takes on his first leading role in years, is overwhelmingly positive. It’s debuted at 85% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, which goes to show the standing ovation wasn’t just film festival wankery (as those things often are). Many have praised Fraser’s dramatic performance as a depressed teacher who is eating himself to death. The film’s narrative is a depressing concept, but the actor’s story outside it is now anything but.
The Whale is soon to hit cinemas (though when exactly it will release in Australia is unclear), so its effect will undoubtedly continue for some time after its Venice premiere. I hope many people see it, and I wish Brendan Fraser many happy successes to come.