I fell in love with Brendan Fraser when he popped onto the scene in “Encino Man.” This is notable since I’m sure I never actually saw the movie (because I think Pauly Shore was in it and there’s no way I would have watched a film with even a cameo of him).
It was Fraser’s eyes I swooned over. It wasn’t because of their limpid pool blue and luscious lashes (which I assume every woman from birth to death was mesmerized by). It was the very human semi-bulginess I was drawn to. It was the nobody-can pull off those Brendan-Fraser-eyes-like Brendan-Fraser that enchanted this lil’ lady. When the pictures of “deteriorated” Fraser hit the web, I was nonplussed. He still had those signature eyes, but this was an actor who did his own stunts in movies like “The Mummy” franchise and “George of The Jungle”—and then played legendary Ian McKellen’s love interest in the period drama “Gods and Monsters.” This man has range.
I know we like our leading men (and ingenues) to grow old gracefully (whatever that means) or, really, not at all. And fountain-of-youth-y 52-year-old Paul Rudd and his adorable baby face (that hasn’t changed since he was in 6th grade) contribute to this mythology. The internet went absolutely nuts when users realized Rudd hasn’t aged since 1995’s “Clueless.”
A few years ago, the internet went absolutely nuts again when a picture of Brendan Fraser, Rudd’s contemporary, surfaced—but in a different way. Tumblr user femburton posted side-by-side images of the actor. On the left is shirtless, airbrushed Fraser from a zillion years ago; on the right is a sweatered and unrehearsed Fraser waking down a street more recently. Underneath the pic, smarmy femburton wrote: “I think about this a lot.”
You would expect other trolls—those pasty souls who live in their parents’ basement along with the millipedes and mini fridges—to join in the hate. And maybe a few of them tried. An attack did come, but it was directed at sad little femburton. Compassionate Fraser fans popped out of the woodwork—and it was glorious.
My favorite is konigstigerr’s “people grow old? like, that’s a thing that happens? leave my guy alone.” My guy.
Do you remember back in the day when you wanted to change into your bathing suit in someone’s backyard? Your closest friends would curtain their towels around you, protecting your nakedness from unwanted eyes. This is what Fraser’s people are doing—circling around him and protecting his naked vulnerability from unwanted (and unkind) eyes. It is heartening.
A few posters allude to the turmoil in Fraser’s life, which semi-explains why he seems to have faded into the background in the post-Mummy years. Fraser’s TikTok defender unknownlegitflip rapid-fires the tragic lowlights in 59 seconds: sexual assault; blackballed as a result; spiraling depression; multiple surgeries to repair stunt work injuries; an exorbitant divorce settlement; the loss of his mother.
You can listen to the under-a-minute summary—or you can hear the story from Fraser himself. (Though I have to say, the TikTok dude does a pretty thorough job at light speed….) In Zach Baron’s 2018 article for GQ, Fraser takes the wheel and untangles the mystery surrounding his legendary exodus from blockbuster-ism. And, it ain’t pretty.
Fraser admits that his “crumbling body” certainly contributed to his hiatus. By 2008, Fraser says, “I was put together with tape and ice—I was building an exoskeleton for myself daily.” Fraser details, for the first time publicly, the 2003 sexual assault by the then-president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Philip Berk insists that he only pinched Fraser. But the actor tells a different story, where Berk “reaches around, grabs my ass cheek, and one of his fingers touches me in the taint. And he starts moving it around.”
At that moment, Fraser was overcome with fear and panic, which manifested in a dark depression. He recounts, “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.”
I have a hard time dealing with a pesky hangnail. Fraser? It’s like he had a hundred-thousand hangnails and then someone stuffed him in a barrel and rolled it off a cliff.
And he not only survived; he’s back. It’s not that Fraser hasn’t worked at all; it’s just that he’s been sort of hidden behind a scrim. But now? He’s not only in the forefront, he’s in the forefront with DiCaprio and De Niro in Scorsese’s new film, “Killers Of The Flower Moon.” (And that’s not the only formidable project he’s involved in.)
And the internet, once again, is going insane. This time though, it’s not so much to defend and protect Fraser—it’s to praise him.
Brendan Fraser deserves a huge comeback, not just because he’s super talented, but also because he’s a damn hero and brave as hell pic.twitter.com/bnrlHmMQ6w
— L. Silvertongue, Juris Dr. Girlfriend (@PinkRangerLB) August 3, 2021
In a viral TikTok video, a fan on the virtual meet-and-greet assured Fraser that his fans had never gone anywhere: “There are so many people out there who love you and we’re rooting for you and we can’t wait to see what you do next.”
Fraser’s response to all this? He actually gets choked up for a sec and responds with only a simple “Shucks, ma’am.”
The internet had a few more things to add — under the hashtag #Brenaissance, of course:
— Let’s Talk Godzilla (@GodzillaLets) August 3, 2021
— Brandon (@Screamline458) August 30, 2021
To quote Twitter’s sage Maggie Mae Fish, “It’s Brendan Fraser’s world and we are simply members of his congregation.”