Brendan Fraser and Ke Huy Quan, who won Oscars for their roles in The Whale and Everything Everywhere All at Once, respectively, fought their way back from the brink of Hollywood oblivion to the stage at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles where they each gave moving, sentimental speeches.
“Story like these only occur in movies,” you could say. As he triumphantly proclaimed while holding his Oscar, Quay. Let’s examine how the bios of these hitherto ignored actors have changed.
Paradoxically, Quay and Fraser both appeared in the 1992 comedy Encino Man, but their roads to the Oscars couldn’t have been more dissimilar. Yet, they do share the personal and professional misery that comes with working in the film industry, where success one day can never be guaranteed to be success the next.
Return of Brendan Fraser and The Whale
Brendan Fraser was a sought-after leading actor who was able to appear in a variety of films from the 1990s to the mid-2000s. Whether it was dramas like the coming-of-age movie School Ties, in which he had his breakout role alongside Matt Damon and Chris O’Donnell, family comedies like George of the Jungle, or action movies like The Mummy series, Fraser consistently provided the goods and had no scandal to his credit.
Fraser insisted on performing his own stunts despite being a big man who stands at 190 cm and is built like a brick outhouse, a habit that took a heavy toll on his physique.
After costarring with Harrison Ford in the 2010 medical thriller Extraordinary Measures, Fraser’s career took a turn for the worse, with a string of lacklustre parts and a noticeable absence from the usually active actor.
In an interview with GQ, Fraser claimed, “By the time I filmed the third Mummy picture [released in 2008] in China, I was patched together with tape and ice. Then, he continued, he “just, like, became geeky and developed a passion for ice packs. Due to their size and portability, downhill mountain biking pads and screw-cap cold packs are recommended.
During the course of several years, Fraser would have a series of operations. Fraser would require additional surgery on his back, including the bolting together of several compressed spinal pads, a partial knee replacement, and even vocal cord repair after having a laminectomy (a procedure that makes space by removing bone spurs and tissues linked to arthritis of the spine).
Fraser’s personal life would also start to fall apart, which would cause him to lose confidence and fall into a deep despair. The actor had to pay $900,000 in child support after his divorce from former actress and mother of his three children, Afton Smith, in 2007, despite having a stagnant acting career. Before this, though, was an incident at the Beverly Hills Hotel during the summer of 2003, where Fraser attended a luncheon hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organisation that hosts the Golden Globe Awards. The former president of the HFPA, Philip Berk, reached out to shake Fraser’s hand, and – according to Berk’s own memoir and Sharon Waxman of The New York Times – pinched Fraser’s ass.
Berk said it was a joke, but Fraser says that Berk went further. “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,” Fraser explained. “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… I became depressed. I was blaming myself and I was miserable, because I was saying: ‘This is nothing; this guy reached around and he copped a feel’. That summer wore on, and I can’t remember what I went on to work on next”. Berk, for his part, denies the allegation.
Fraser said the experience made him retreat from the public and turned him into a recluse. Slowly, though, Fraser started making appearances in TV. First, there was the History Channel series Texas Rising. Then came the Danny Boyle-directed TV series Trust about the abduction of John Paul Getty III, in which Fraser played a prominent role. Fans dubbed it the “Brennaissance”. But Fraser was a movie star and was looking for that role back in film, which he found in The Whale, the Darren Aronofsky-directed film in which Fraser portrays Charlie, a morbidly obese teacher who is facing his last days as a recluse. “He’s in bad shape,” said Fraser in an interview with NME.
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