After winning the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in “The Whale,” Brendan Fraser is on top of the world as an actor, and he let it show during his acceptance speech at the ceremony.
Brendan Fraser accepts the #Oscar for Best Actor for #TheWhale. https://t.co/ndiKiHfmID pic.twitter.com/kNuDy85dpH— Variety (@Variety) March 13, 2023
Over the past few years, Fraser has regained much of the fame he once had as an actor, and now that he’s achieved the highest honor an actor can get in show business, it looks like the comeback train won’t slow down anytime soon pending any unforeseen circumstances. With that said, it’s time to take a look at Fraser’s 10 best performances as an actor.
David Greene in ‘School Ties’
While “Encino Man” was Fraser’s first big-time role in 1992, “School Ties” proved his dramatic chops that very same year. He played the lead David Greene, a Jewish teenager trying to conceal his religion from his antisemitic friends at his new boarding school in the 1950s.
Fraser playing the conflicted teen who desires acceptance but struggles to hide his true self was impressive, knowing the little reputation he had in Hollywood at the time. Both the happiness he feels from his newfound popularity and the despair he goes through after his religious beliefs are revealed are portrayed expertly by Fraser, making for one truly compelling and original high school drama.
George in ‘George of the Jungle’
Remaking classic cartoons from the 1960s into an enjoyable live-action film is not an easy task. A fair amount of the time, they’re not received well critically. But the Fraser-led “George of the Jungle” was a rare exception to that rule. Fraser played the well-meaning but dimwitted Tarzan satire exceptionally well, which went into why the film became such a big hit.
The heart Fraser put into his performance made him a very charming lead, which played a huge role in why the movie was so much fun to watch as an adventure. It also set his career up as a leading man for many family-friendly comedies that followed — both good and bad.
Ben Sullivan in ‘Scrubs’
Though Fraser developed his reputation for starring primarily in movies, he put up one of his best performances as the likable, semi-bizarre Ben Sullivan on the NBC comedy-drama “Scrubs.” Fraser first appeared as Sullivan in a two-parter as the show’s first season was approaching its end. Fraser’s charisma and likability made it hard for both the characters (and the audience) to accept his leukemia diagnosis.
But Fraser’s shining moment on the show came when he returned as Sullivan in Season 3 in not only one of the best episodes “Scrubs” ever put out, but one of the most emotional moments ever created in television history.
Rick O’Connell in ‘The Mummy’
The 1999 remake of “The Mummy” will be revered as one of Hollywood’s most groundbreaking movies in terms of CGI, but a CGI blockbuster can be all for nothing if it doesn’t have a good lead, and that’s exactly what Fraser did as the courageous and ambitious explorer Rick O’Connell. While not embracing the adventure he’d inadvertently got himself into, his courage, intelligence and overall cool demeanor made him a character to remember.
Fraser’s performance as O’Connell gave “The Mummy” a lot of substance so that it wasn’t just a visual spectacle for audiences both because of O’Connell’s abilities as an action hero and his dynamics with the other characters, which helped spawn two commercially successful sequels down the line.
Elliot Richards in ‘Bedazzled’
When he was in his prime, Fraser starred mostly in comedies that targeted families. “Bedazzled” isn’t exactly family-friendly, but it is one where Fraser was allowed to showcase his comedic versatility. Selling his soul to the devil for seven wishes allows Elliot Richards to experience alternate realities playing different people, including a drug lord, a basketball player and a bestselling author, among others.
Fraser gave it his all to make the comedy work and he shines. Even better is the character development Richards goes through as he realizes the dangers of how one quick fix doesn’t suddenly turn your life around, no matter what the quick fix is.
Charlie in ‘The Whale’
You probably knew this was coming. Fraser took it to a whole new level when he portrayed the morbidly obese English teacher Charlie who has been eating himself to death. Charlie is a kind fellow whose succumbing to morbid obesity makes the film a tough watch, especially since he also tries to right the wrongs he did in the past. Fraser went all out bringing the character to life on the big screen, and it makes for one brutally honest movie.
While reception to the film was mixed, many critics agreed that Fraser was phenomenal in his role as Charlie.
John Gunther in ‘The Affair’
Chilling performance by Brendan Fraser as Gunther in #TheAffair. #SHOemmyFYC #VoteTheAffair pic.twitter.com/KY7w68Nu0D— The Affair on Showtime (@SHO_TheAffair) June 16, 2017
Fraser had fallen off the map during the 2010s. That was until he was cast as the sadistic correctional officer John Gunter in “The Affair” in 2016. Fraser did not have the biggest role when he was on the show, but when he appeared onscreen, he stood out. Not just because of his namesake, but because of how different his character was compared to what he usually took on.
Usually Fraser played good guys that audiences rooted for, but in “The Affair,” Fraser played a chilling villain who delighted in tormenting the show’s main character, an off-putting yet enjoyable change of pace from him.
Clayton Boone in ‘Gods and Monsters’
Though he made his mark as a comedic actor, Fraser did appear in the occasional drama. Arguably the most well-received of them was “Gods and Monsters” where Fraser played the gardener of iconic Hollywood director James Whale. While the film’s focus is on Whale, played masterfully by Ian McKellen, Fraser’s dynamic with McKellen stood out.
Boone’s relationship with Whale is arguably the film’s high point, as the two of them strike up an unlikely friendship, though it hovers between camaraderie. Though McKellen was the one nominated for an Academy Award, Fraser kept up with the legendary actor, which is not easy to do.
Alden Pyle in ‘The Quiet American’
Again, Fraser had to act beside an acting legend whose performance in this movie earned him an Academy Award nomination — Michael Caine. Yet at the same time, Fraser kept with Caine in a story that had two plots going — a love triangle and the United States’ then-growing influence in Vietnam leading up to the Vietnam war.
Fraser plays a CIA operative who essentially is steering the war to benefit Americans. Pyle’s orders lead to lives needlessly being lost, but he comes across as a man who truly believes that he’s doing the right thing for his country. A film that captures the beautiful tragedy from the book it’s based on, thanks to Fraser.
Rick Cabot in ‘Crash’
Fraser’s role in the Oscar-winning film was not very substantial, but he played the role of a public figure who wants to keep his image squeaky clean above all else. In a film about racial tension, Cabot wants to keep his job as the district attorney more than anything, even if it means manipulating the public to do it.
In a film that portrays the harsh realities of racism, Fraser made a notable contribution to the film even if they didn’t count on him for much because his character showed the difference between someone who wants to make a change and someone who only wants people to think he wants change.