Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, actor Brendan Fraser seemed on the verge of superstardom. Moviegoers the world over were charmed by Fraser’s affable personality and perfect comedic timing. In 1999, Fraser secured the role of adventurer Rick O’Connell in Universal’s The Mummy series, his best known role and one of the highest grossing franchises of the era. Despite being poised for a successful Hollywood career, Fraser all but dropped off the map in the mid-2000s. While the details of Fraser’s career after The Mummy are not very well-known, they are as interesting as any blockbuster film.
Born in Canada in 1968, Fraser first attracted the attention of audiences for his comedic roles. In 1992, Fraser starred as a caveman thrust in the modern world opposite Sean Astin and Pauly Shore in Encino Man. Two years later, Fraser starred as an aspiring rocker in Airheads. While the film itself received poor reviews, Fraser was praised for his deadpan comedic timing. In 1997, Fraser got his big break as the titular character in George of the Jungle. Like Airheads, George of the Jungle fared poorly with critics, currently holding a 56 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Nevertheless, audiences loved Fraser’s goofy antics. Moreover, George of the Jungle proved to studio executives that Fraser could lead films and be a box office draw. After George of the Jungle, Fraser continued starring in several comedies, including the 1999 fish out of water romantic comedy Blast from the Past.
1999 was also the year that The Mummy was released to the delight of audiences. Praised by both critics and fans alike, Fraser made a name for himself as the lovable yet tough Rick O’Connell. Having grossed $415 million at the box office, studio executives immediately greenlit a sequel, 2001’s The Mummy Returns. Once again, the franchise proved to be a hit with moviegoers, with the second entry in the series earning $443 million, the biggest box office take of any movie in Fraser’s filmography. Fraser and Universal left the series behind with 2008’s The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Although a critical failure, the film still proved popular enough with audiences, having scored an impressive $400 million at the box office.
Following the conclusion of The Mummy trilogy, Fraser explored a variety of paths in his career. On the one hand, Fraser tried to continue in comedies films, the genre which initiated his career. Despite a strong comedic presence, Fraser was never able to emulate the success he enjoyed as a comedy actor in the 90s. Among the comedies Fraser starred in the early 2000s were Dudley Do-Right, Bedazzled, and Looney Tunes: Back in Action. While all of Fraser’s subsequent comedies have their supporters and detractors, audiences generally found them less funny than his works from the 90s.
Fraser also starred in several dramas. By far the most recognized dramas in Fraser’s repertoire are The Quiet American, where he played a CIA operative in the early days of the Vietnam War, and 2004’s Crash. Crash is Fraser’s most-well known drama film, having won the Academy Award for Best Picture and being featured on several critics’ top movie lists of 2004.
Hoping to emulate his success as Rick in The Mummy, Fraser also starred in several big budget Hollywood blockbusters. In 2008, Warner Bros. launched a franchise inspired by Jules Verne’s classic novel Journey to the Center of the Earth. Fraser led the film as volcanologist Trevor Anderson. While the film proved to be a success with audiences, Warner Bros. turned to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to lead its 2012 sequel, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Fraser also made a cameo appearance as fan favorite character Sergeant Stone in 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. In addition to mainstream Hollywood films, Fraser has also been featured in several independent films, including Extraordinary Measures and Breakout.
While starting off in film, Fraser has nevertheless found a great deal of success in television roles in recent years. In 2018, Fraser starred in both Trust and Condor on FX. Both series showcased Fraser’s ability as a drama actor. Currently, Fraser stars in the HBO Max comic book series Doom Patrol as Cliff Steele/Robotman.