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The Hollywood Comebacks of Brendan Fraser and Ke Huy Quan

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. John's chapter.

If you’ve been on the internet at all these last few months, chances are you’ve seen the collective hype surrounding actors Brendan Fraser and Ke Huy Quan. Last week at the 95th Academy Awards, Brendan Fraser won Best Actor for his performance as Charlie in The Whale and Ke Huy Quan won Best Supporting Actor for his role of Waymond in Everything, Everywhere All At Once. So, why are these two receiving an endless flow of much-deserved praise recently? 

Let’s start with Brendan Fraser:

Brendan Fraser began acting in the early 1990s and is perhaps best known for playing his role as Rick O’Connell in The Mummy franchise from 1999 to 2008. Throughout the filming of this trilogy along with other adventure films, Fraser sustained several physical injuries, many of which required surgeries. These injuries, however, were not the only reason why he stepped away from acting. In an interview with GQ Magazine in 2018, Fraser spoke out about a 2003 incident in which he was sexually assaulted by a former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. His assault, physical injuries, and other personal struggles led him to step away from the spotlight. Though Fraser continued with small roles over the last decade, it wasn’t until director Darren Aronofsky cast him as the lead character, Charlie, in his latest film, The Whale, that marked his first major lead role since 2013. It took Aronofsky nearly 10 years to find an actor for Charlie due to the difficulty and intensity of the role. Yet after meeting with Fraser, he was confident he found his lead. Upon Fraser’s return to acting, the internet has titled his comeback the “Brenaissance”. Fraser has been nominated for countless awards for his performance in The Whale and has won many, including a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Critic’s Choice Movie Award, and an Academy Award. Fraser being welcomed back into the spotlight after years of scaling back on projects is proof that the “Brenaissance” is among us.

Moving on to Ke Huy Quan:

Ke Huy Quan began his career as a child actor in the 1980s. He played Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Data in The Goonies, and took on a few other small roles in the years following. However, due to the lack of job opportunities for Asian actors, Quan quit acting and decided to pursue a career behind the camera. From the late 1990s to 2018, he took on jobs as an assistant director, stunt choreographer, and other behind-the-scenes jobs in both American and Asian productions. After the release and success of the 2018 film Crazy Rich Asians, Quan was inspired to take another shot at acting. Coincidentally, this was also when the filmmaking duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert began casting for Everything, Everywhere All At Once. Two weeks after getting a talent agent, Quan was invited to audition for the film and was announced as part of the cast in January 2020. Upon the March 2022 release, Quan was met with praise from fans and critics alike, leading to him winning a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and an Academy Award for his performance. His win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards made him the first Asian actor to win in the category of supporting actor, and his Academy Award made him the second Asian actor to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. According to a study by USC, Asian and Pacific Island actors accounted for less than 6% of speaking roles and less than 4% of leads and co-leads in mainstream Hollywood films from 2008 to 2019. While there is still a long way to go to increase API representation, Ke Huy Quan’s return to acting following an almost 20-year hiatus due to limited job opportunities is an inspiring and heartwarming comeback. 

It’s no doubt that Brendan Fraser and Ke Huy Quan are both incredibly deserving of the recent universal praise and fortunately, this isn’t the last you’ll see of them. Brendan Fraser will be returning to the big screen later this year in Martin Scorsese’s latest film, Killers of the Flower Moon. Lucky are those with Disney+, as Ke Huy Quan will be appearing in Marvel Studios’ Loki Season 2 and American Born Chinese, both premiering on the streaming service in a few months. 


Jolin, D. (2022, December 13). “Hollywood is a mean place”: the story behind Brendan Fraser’s ‘Brenaissance’. Screen Daily. Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://www.screendaily.com/features/hollywood-is-a-mean-place-the-story-behind-brendan-frasers-brenaissance/5177377.article 

Mazziotta, J. (2018, February 22). Brendan Fraser Says He Destroyed His Body Doing Movie Stunts: ‘I Was Probably Trying too Hard’. People. Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://people.com/health/brendan-fraser-destroyed-body-movie-stunts/ 

Rahman, A. (2021, May 18). Asians and Pacific Islanders Account for Less Than 6 Percent of Speaking Roles in Hollywood Films, Study Finds. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/general-news/asians-and-pacific-islanders-in-hollywood-films-1234954926/ 

Rashotte, V. (2022, December 16). Darren Aronofsky on The Whale, casting Brendan Fraser and fat suit criticism. CBC. Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://www.cbc.ca/radio/q/friday-dec-16-2022-darren-aronofsky-alfre-woodard-and-more-1.6685518/darren-aronofsky-on-the-whale-casting-brendan-fraser-and-fat-suit-criticism-1.6685521 

Riley, D. (2018, February 22). What Ever Happened To Brendan Fraser? GQ. Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://www.gq.com/story/what-ever-happened-to-brendan-fraser 

Tangcay, J., & Wallenstein, A. (2022, March 25). ‘Everything Everywhere’ Star Ke Huy Quan on How ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Gave Him FOMO and Inspired His Return to Movies. Variety. Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://variety.com/2022/film/news/ke-huy-quan-crazy-rich-asians-everything-everywhere-1235214799/ 

Katera Dobson

St. John's '26

Katera is a sophomore at St. John’s University, born and raised in Queens, New York. She joined Her Campus in her freshman year and is currently the Senior Writer. When it comes to writing, she primarily focuses on the topics of film, theater and books. Outside of Her Campus, she can be found baking, reading, and going to the movies.