Brendan Fraser’s Story

Though the actor was effectively blacklisted, his return to the big screen last year showed an unusual degree of resilience.


"Brendan Fraser" by Valli_Hilaire is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Actor Brendan Fraser made a bold and surprising return to the screen last year in The Whale.

Miller Orris, Staff Writer

Since 1992, Brendan Fraser has been a mainstay in Hollywood. His breakout hit, Encino Man (1992), saw the launch of his career into stardom. Last year, he made his return to the big screen in The Whale (2022) with an award-wining performance.

The Whale is an incredibly intimate character study on Fraser’s character, a man whose life is falling apart around him. Parallels can be drawn from Fraser’s character in The Whale to his own life.  However, it actually wasn’t his fault.

In 2018, Brendan Fraser accused Philip Berk, then president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (who vote for the Golden Globe awards), of sexual assault stemming from a luncheon in 2003. 

Before then, health problems and the death of his mother slowed Fraser’s career. After the accusations were made, Fraser was blacklisted from Hollywood, unable to get any roles.

Fraser’s return in The Whale has been heralded as an incredible return for the actor, a triumphant film that echoes his own triumphant return to Hollywood. Fraser had to wait 15 years to feel safe coming forward with his story, and still he was cast out of the industry.

Fraser’s story further opens up a very important conversation about power dynamics in the entertainment industry. Oftentimes, the people in positions of power are also not in the spotlight. This places all eyes on the alleged victim when coming forward with a story like this.

Many didn’t take Fraser seriously, possibly because he is a male, which may have to do with the culture surrounding masculinity. Fraser’s accusations were never brought to court, which only added to the tragic course of his career path.

However, he was able to land a phenomenal role in The Whale. 

But the fact that Fraser was able to reclaim a position that he held prior to making the accusations does not mean it is not troubling that he was thrown out in the first place.

If Fraser had not taken the role for The Whale, chances are he’d still be blacklisted. By starring in a fantastic indie movie, Fraser clawed his way back into the public eye, making his voice heard. This is a key example of the actor’s resilience.

In a situation like this, there will likely never be a trial or widescale rectification of the scenario. Many look for damning evidence against the accused before believing the accuser. In many cases, there will never be solid evidence for abuse because it’s not something that can be easily proven. It’s always important to remember how incredibly hard it is to come forward in these situations. Fraser waited 15 years and was still attacked for doing so.