The Oscars are a time for sameness. There are a lot of similarities year to year that provides a sort of bedrock of stability. John Williams and Meryl Streep fist bump for having more Oscar nominations between them than God Himself. Leonardo DiCaprio is thrilled he doesn’t have to eat any more bison hearts to win a trophy. The host is always terrible and awkward unless it’s Billy Crystal. And usually, at least one actor will do something that will become a meme for the next two weeks.
Oscar season always has a few fun surprises, though. With lots of nominations, there are always big upsets and some hurt feelings. This year it may very well be that Brendan Fraser has been nominated at long last for the coveted Best Actor Oscar. Now is the perfect time for the guy to get some real recognition.
It’s still tough to believe that the funny guy from The Mummy is the same guy nominated for an Oscar. When you saw George of the Jungle for the first time, you wouldn’t imagine that the same guy has the darkness to effectively portray a morbidly obese man. Yet, everything he’s been in seems to be made better by his presence, down to his brief but memorable appearance on Scrubs.
All this to say, though, that he knew his niche well. Show up, look jacked, kick some butt, utter a good one-liner, and move on to the next moneymaker. He was no Dustin Hoffman, but there’s still plenty to be said for those roles, however silly they might appear. Any actor should be considered good at their job if their mere presence on screen makes a scene more enjoyable. And then, every once in a while, people like that stun you by actually trying in a very serious role like Dwayne Johnson’s underrated part in Pain & Gain, or in this case, Fraser in The Whale.
A Long Road to Recovery
But something went wrong on that stardom trip. Something that would put him out of the game for years. Fraser insisted on doing all his own stunts in these action roles he starred in, going so far as to even poke fun at it in Looney Tunes: Back in Action. While it’s pretty cool that the guy was brave enough to do all his sword swinging in The Mummy, it ended up hindering his health. All that physicality caught up with him, and he spent years in and out of back surgery to help correct the damage sustained. In addition, he also had to contend with a divorce and burying his mom, which put him in a pretty dark place.