Is Brendan Fraser OK? 'Mummy' star is unrecognizable as he puts on weight
Darren Aronofsky will direct Fraser in ‘The Whale’, an adaptation of Samuel D Hunter’s play about a morbidly obese recluse
Brendan Fraser, star of ‘The Mummy’ and ‘George of the Jungle’, was barely recognizable as he made a rare appearance on the red carpet on Friday, June 18, for the premiere of ‘No Sudden Move’ at the Tribeca Film Festival. Fraser donned a black suit, blue shirt, and loose-fitting navy tie at the event.
The 52-year-old, once a Hollywood hunk, seems to have put on considerable weight. But the weight gain has a clear motive behind it. Darren Aronofsky will direct Fraser in ‘The Whale’, an adaptation of Samuel D Hunter’s play about a morbidly obese recluse. The play was critically acclaimed when it debuted Off-Broadway in 2012, winning both the Drama Desk Award and the Lucille Lortel Award for outstanding play.
The story follows a 600-pound middle-aged man named Charlie and his attempts to reconnect with his 17-year-old daughter. The two became estranged after Charlie abandoned his family for his gay lover, who later dies. Charlie then turned to compulsive eating out of grief.
Hunter said of the play in 2012, “Though the story of ‘The Whale’ is fundamentally a story of a father trying to reconnect with a daughter, he's doing so by trying to teach her how to write a good essay. But in teaching her how to write a good essay, he's trying to teach her how to think independently and how to relate to other people. Ultimately, he's teaching her how to have empathy. There are many elements that circle around the story in The Whale -- morbid obesity, Mormonism, small-town America, etc -- but ultimately the play grew out of this struggle to teach independent thought and empathy.”
While Fraser’s weight does catch the attention at first glance, fans of the actor seemed more than happy to see him back in public (and in films) after a very long time. “Brendan Fraser wears a suit like I wear a suit. Brendan Fraser wears a suit like many of us wear a suit. Brendan Fraser is all of us,” wrote a Twitter user. “2021 Brendan Fraser is without a doubt my favorite Brendan Fraser,” tweeted another person.
“It makes my heart and soul so happy to see Brendan Fraser acting in recent and upcoming movies,” tweets one person. Another person wrote on Twitter, “I am so ready for this man to rise from the ashes like a glorious fat phoenix and take the world by storm again.”
Brendan Fraser wears a suit like I wear a suit. Brendan Fraser wears a suit like many of us wear a suit. Brendan Fraser is all of us. pic.twitter.com/a1dx7xMs2N— Jonathan The Gray (@HANSEN_SOGROOVY) June 20, 2021
2021 Brendan Fraser is without a doubt my favorite Brendan Fraser.— Pfizer Wilhelm (@govierbill) June 19, 2021
It makes my heart and soul so happy to see Brendan Fraser acting in recent and upcoming movies. ❤— Lo 🙃 (@laurenn012) June 20, 2021
I am so ready for this man to rise from the ashes like a glorious fat phoenix and take the world by storm again pic.twitter.com/I2jrRAG9dt— Lance St. Laurent (@LanceStLaurent) June 19, 2021
In 2018, Fraser in a GQ interview made sexual assault allegations against an ex-president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Fraser alleged that the HFPA’s Philip Berk assaulted him at the Beverly Hills Hotel in the summer of 2003. “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,” the actor said. Berk recounted the incident in his memoir ‘With Signs and Wonders’, but said he pinched Fraser’s behind as a joke. According to Fraser, though, it wasn’t a joke, and he was overcome with fear and had to remove Berk’s hand.
Fraser said, “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.” He then allegedly rushed out of the room and went home, where he told his then-wife what had happened. “I felt like someone had thrown invisible paint on me,” he said.
Following this, Fraser said, “I became depressed.” He said in the interview that he started telling himself he deserved what had happened to him: “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.”
The experience, he said in the interview, “made me retreat. It made me feel reclusive.” During the course of the interview, he also wondered if the HFPA had blacklisted him. “I don't know if this curried disfavor with the group, with the HFPA. But the silence was deafening,” Fraser said, adding that he was rarely invited back to the Globes after 2003.
Fraser’s career as an action-adventure film actor also took a toll on his body. “I believe I probably was trying too hard, in a way that's destructive,” Fraser said in the interview. “By the time I did the third ‘Mummy’ picture in China,” which was 2008, “I was put together with tape and ice -- just, like, really nerdy and fetishy about ice packs. Screw-cap ice packs and downhill-mountain-biking pads, 'cause they're small and light and they can fit under your clothes. I was building an exoskeleton for myself daily.”
Fraser eventually required multiple surgeries. “I needed a laminectomy. And the lumbar didn't take, so they had to do it again a year later,” he said, listing a partial knee replacement, some more work on his back, bolting various compressed spinal pads together, and even having his vocal cords repaired as well.