Birthdate: December 3, 1968
Birthplace: Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Brendan Fraser (birthname: Brendan James Fraser) has evolved from a busy movie star in the 1990s and early 2000s to a more seriously considered actor in the 2020s as reflected in universal acclaim for his performance in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale (2022). In between, Fraser endured some difficult passages involving a mix of personal issues and debilitating injuries and surgeries stemming from his extensive stunt work in action movies, combining to interrupt his movie career.
Fraser experienced early success: Shortly after his debut in Dogfight (1991), he had his first starring role in the comedy hit, Encino Man (1992), with Sean Astin, Mariette Hartley, Richard Masur, and Pauly Shore, grossing over $40 million on a $7 million budget.
This established Fraser as a star in demand, starting with the Paramount Pictures drama School Ties (1992), co-starring Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Chris O’Donnell, and Cole Hauser, followed by the 1993 comedies Twenty Bucks, with Linda Hunt, Elisabeth Shue, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Lloyd, and Spalding Gray, and writer-director Percy Adlon’s Younger & Younger, with Donald Sutherland and Lolita Davidovich, and winning prizes at the Brussels and Tokyo film festivals.
Brendan Fraser co-starred with Joe Pesci, Moira Kelly, Patrick Dempsey, Josh Hamilton, and Gore Vidal in the William Mastrosimone-written comedy-drama, With Honors (1994), and then starred in the critically panned rocker comedy directed by Michael Lehmann, Airheads (1994), with Buscemi, Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, and Joe Mantegna.
Fraser starred in another commercial and critical dud with the Michael Ritchie-directed baseball comedy, The Scout (1994), co-starring Albert Brooks and Dianne Wiest, and based on a New Yorker story by Roger Angell. In one of his most unusual starring roles, Fraser led writer-director Philip Ridley’s cast in The Passion of Darkly Noon (1995), with Ashley Judd and Viggo Mortensen, eventually earning cult status after initially receiving mixed reviews and poor box office.
Brendan Fraser, unfortunately, had another commercial failure under Richard Benjamin’s direction in Mrs. Winterbourne (1996), based on Cornell Woolrich’s novel, I Married a Dead Man, and co-starring Shirley MacLaine and Ricki Lake. Fraser’s biggest commercial hit to date was Disney’s comedy (based on the Jay Ward/Bill Scott animated TV series), George of the Jungle (1997), co-starring Leslie Mann, Thomas Haden Church, Holland Taylor, Richard Roundtree, and John Cleese, and earning a global gross of over $174 million on a $55 million budget.
Fraser then starred in writer-director James Ford Robinson’s low-budget drama, Still Breathing (1997), premiering at the South by Southwest festival, with Joanna Going, Lou Rawls, Ann Magnuson, and Angus Macfadyen, followed by the acclaimed Bill Condon-written and directed drama, Gods and Monsters (1998), co-starring Ian McKellan and Lynn Redgrave, winning the Best Screenplay Oscar for Condon, yet failing to make a profit with a $6.5 million global take.
Fraser co-starred with Alicia Silverstone in the rom-com fantasy, Blast from the Past (1999), written and directed by Hugh Wilson and grossing over $40 million worldwide. Brendan Fraser’s biggest success happened next, with writer-director Stephen Sommers’ action-adventure, The Mummy (1999), with Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, and Arnold Vosloo, and earning over $416 million globally on an $80 million budget, and launching two direct sequels and a prequel (2002’s The Scorpion King) as well as the 2017 remake starring Tom Cruise.
Fraser wasn’t able to translate this hit into another with another Jay Ward adaptation from writer-director Wilson, Dudley Do-Right (1999), with Sarah Jessica Parker, Alfred Molina, and Eric Idle, but was able to score a much better box-office return (over $90 million globally) with the remake of the Peter Cook/Dudley Moore comedy, Bedazzled (2000), directed by Harold Ramis and co-written by Larry Gelbart, Ramis, and Peter Tolan, and co-starring Elizabeth Hurley and Frances O’Connor.
Fraser performed in back-to-back animated features: Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists (2000), with the voices of Leonard Nimoy and Mark Hamill; and Henry Selick’s animated-live action Monkeybone (2001), with Bridget Fonda, Chris Kattan, Whoopi Goldberg, Rose McGowan, Giancarlo Esposito, and John Turturro, which was a box-office bomb.
Following a familiar pattern, Brendan Fraser was able to bounce back with filmmaker Stephen Sommers’ sequel, The Mummy Returns (2001), earning a global gross of $435 million (four times its $98 million budget), with returning co-stars Weisz, Hannah, Vosloo, and new cast members Dwayne Johnson and Oded Fehr.
Fraser co-starred with Oscar-nominated Michael Caine in director Philip Noyce’s and writers Christopher Hampton’s and Robert Schenkkan’s adaptation of Graham Greene’s The Quiet American (2002), with Rade Šerbedžija and Tzi Ma, followed by the commercially failed Warner Bros.
live-action/animated feature, Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), directed by Joe Dante, and co-starring Jenna Elfman, Steve Martin, Timothy Dalton, Joan Cusack, and Heather Locklear. Brendan Fraser co-starred in his first feature to win the Best Picture Oscar (one of three, including Best Screenplay and Editing), writer-director Paul Haggis’ Crash (2004), with co-stars Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, Terrence Howard, Ludacris, Thandie Newton, Ryan Philippe, and Larenz Tate, and grossing over $98 million globally.
Writer-director Eric Eason’s indie crime thriller, Journey to the End of Night (2006), was Fraser’s next project, with co-stars Mos Def, Alice Braga, Scott Glenn, and Catalina Sandino Moreno, followed by Fraser’s first project as executive producer and co-star (with Michael Keaton and Amber Valetta), The Last Time (2006), by writer-producer-director Michael Caleo.
Fraser co-starred in the indie crime drama directed and written by Jieho Lee, The Air I Breathe (2007), with Kevin Bacon, Julie Delpy, Andy Garcia, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Emile Hirsch, and Forest Whitaker, and then turned to Warners’ big-budget sci-fi fantasy, Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008), earning over $244 million, and co-starring Seth Meyers and Josh Hutcherson; the movie was the first presented theatrically in the “4D” process.
Fraser enjoyed back-to-back hits with the Chinese-themed The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)—third in the series--co-starring Jet Li, Maria Bello, Michelle Yeoh, Russell Wong, and retuning cast mate John Hannah, earning over $403 million worldwide.
Brendan Fraser joined an impressive cast including Helen Mirren, Paul Bettany, Jim Broadbent, and Andy Serkis for the international co-production, Inkheart (2008), drawing commercial and critical responses. Fraser’s next was also a commercial failure—Extraordinary Measures (2010)—co-starring Harrison Ford and Keri Russell, and then followed with the even more panned comedy, Furry Vengeance (2010), with Brooke Shields and Ken Jeong.
Writer-director Terry George’s crime comedy, Stand Off (2012), was Fraser’s next project, with cast mates Colm Meaney and Yaya DaCosta, premiering at the Tribeca film festival. A Fraser-starring movie enjoyed better box-office results with the indie animated feature, Escape from Planet Earth (2013), with the voices of Rob Corddry, Sarah Jessica Parker, William Shatner, Jessica Alba, and Jane Lynch, grossing over $74 million globally.
Fraser played support in star-writer Justin Long's indie rom-com, A Case of You (2013), directed by Kat Coiro, and co-starring Evan Rachel Wood and Vince Vaughn, followed by several minor indie projects, including Hair Brained (2013), Pawn Shop Chronicles (2013), Gimme Shelter (2013), The Nut Job (2014), The Poison Rose (2019), the Indian production Line of Descent (2019), and the Czech-produced romantic drama, The Secret of Karma (2020).
Fraser recovered from a generally poor decade of work by appearing in a supporting role in Steven Soderbergh’s crime drama, No Sudden Move (2021), starring Don Cheadle and Benicio del Toro, premiering at the Tribeca film festival. Fraser made a triumphant return to the center stage of the movie world with the tragic lead role in The Whale, directed by Darren Aronofsky and written by Samuel D. Hunter (adapting his play), and featuring Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, Ty Simpkins, and Samantha Morton, with Fraser winning Best Actor Volpe Cup at the Venice film festival.
Continuing his comeback, Fraser played support in Martin Scorsese’s Western crime drama (budgeted at $200 million), Killers of the Flower Moon (2023), starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons, and Lily Gladstone. After the Czech-producer fantasy, Behind the Curtain of Life (2023), with Dawn Olivieri and Marcia Cross, Fraser joined the cast of the Sony-released comedy, Brothers (2023), with stars/co-producers Josh Brolin and Peter Dinklage, with Glenn Close and Taylour Paige.
Brendan Fraser was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and raised by parents Carol (a sales counselor) and Peter Fraser (a Canadian foreign service officer), with his older brothers Kevin, Regan, and Sean. Fraser’s family moved to many different locations in the U.S., Canada, and Europe while he was growing up. Fraser attended Canada’s most highly-rated college prep school, Upper Canada College, in Toronto. After graduating from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle in 1990, Fraser studied acting in New York City and ended up in Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, short-circuiting plans for graduate studies in drama at Dallas’ Southern Methodist University.
Fraser was married to actor Afton Smith from 1993 to 2009; the couple had three sons, Griffin, Holden, and Leland. In 2003, Fraser says he was sexually assaulted by Philip Berk, then the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association; this incident appeared to contribute to a pause in Fraser’s career, compounded by a prolonged period of depression set on by the assault, his mother’s death, and a bitter divorce from Smith embroiled in legal disputes over alimony payments. Fraser also has suffered from multiple injuries from movie stunt work which led to seven years of serious medical problems including vocal cord surgery, knee replacement surgery, and a laminectomy. Fraser’s estimated net worth is $20 million.
Two-Nation Man: Brendan Fraser is a dual Canadian-American citizen, living most of his life in the U.S., and was born to Canadian parents.
Humanitarian: Fraser is on the board of the film-based human rights organization, FilmAid International. He has also participated in charity events for the Connecticut-based charity for disability support, Abilis.
Serious Hobby: Brendan Fraser is an avid amateur photographer, known particularly for his love of instant cameras.
Say No to the Globes: Due to his public clashes with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and an alleged assault by Berk, Fraser has said that he would not participate in the Golden Globes Awards if nominated.