The content of this article is sensitive and may trigger some viewers. The following contains discussions of sexual assault/related topics. Viewer discretion is advised if you would like to proceed.
If you watched the new covering of the Venice film festival, you definitely saw the Don’t Worry Darling drama coverage, but you also might have noticed something a bit more heartfelt. The movie The Whale received a six-minute long standing ovation, and in particular, Brendan Fraser was the main focus for his leading role.
So who is Brendan Fraser, and why should you be interested in his story? Well, his story is one that is, unfortunately, not too uncommon in Hollywood. It makes his return bittersweet, and still extremely welcome.
Fraser was a staple actor for a time in Hollywood, probably best known for his lead roles in The Mummy and George of the Jungle but seemed to all but disappear after his projects ran their course. After a sudden disappearance and a few scratched heads, GQ in 2018 published their piece on him entitled “What Ever Happened to Brendan Fraser?”. In the interview, Fraser detailed his behind-the-scenes struggles in both his private life and professional career.
Fraser suffered many personal tragedies close together with a death in the family and a divorce. He apparently also sustained many injuries on the set of his movies and had to undergo several surgeries in order to recover. But what (allegedly) paused his career was something that was (and likely still is) a major problem in Hollywood. The GQ article details Fraser’s account of being groped by a former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association: Philip Berk. The article goes into detail about Fraser’s feelings about the incident, and he says, “I felt like someone had thrown invisible paint on me”. Berk denied the incident, saying it was fabricated, and upon request issued a written apology but still says he “admitted to no wrongdoing”.
It is unclear if Fraser was blacklisted by the HFPA, but he certainly felt like he was. Although the organization denies any interference with his career, Fraser (and others) can’t help but wonder about the unofficial consequences.
The Whale is Fraser’s first major film back and will be released to the public on December 9th, 2022. While the film itself has been mostly kept under wraps, the plot seems to be about reconnection and healing, a fitting topic for Fraser’s return.