“Whatever happened to Brendan Fraser?” was a popular refrain during much of the 2010s, when the one-time blockbuster star all but vanished from the spotlight. Then in 2018, GQ finally asked the source; the answers were unexpectedly moving and emotionally charged. Yet it also didn’t quite seem as if a resurgence was on the horizon: Fraser had a solid role in the underrated FX drama Trust; performances on cult shows like Doom Patrol followed. But his dashing, mummy-defeating days were clearly behind him.
And yet now we seem to be entering, improbable as it is, Fraser’s comeback era. It started with A24, as good film news usually does these days. The studio acquired Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, which will feature Fraser as a 600 pound-man who lies in a bathtub binge-eating out of “guilt,” which, honestly, sounds like a pretty weird watch. But, hey, Fraser and Aronofsky, we’ll take it!
Things only go up from there. When Steven Soderbergh revealed he cast approximately 15 of the coolest actors alive for his new crime thriller No Sudden Move, Brendan Fraser’s name in the mix was a surprising but welcome sight. As one of the shadowy go-betweens who kicks off the film’s inciting incident, he more than acquits himself amidst the players who we’re used to seeing in gritty crime stories like this. Which may be how he landed on Martin Scorcese’s radar—Fraser will be part of the troupe for Killers of the Flower Moon alongside De Niro, Leo, and probable new heavyweight Oscar contender Jesse Plemons.
How did this happen? Fraser himself is as surprised and grateful as anyone, judging from a video that went viral this week of him tearing up when told that fans are rooting for him. But he seems to have shrewdly re-molded his image and expanded his range. He doesn’t have the figure or the agility to be Rick O’Connell again, vanquishing CGI hordes of evil as a Club Monaco version of Indiana Jones. In No Sudden Move he’s unlike you’ve ever seen him before—an irritable, hulking heavy whose presence bodes danger and uncertainty. It’s far from the affable guy who typically toggled between dorky, affable and action/adventure.