If you've ever wondered what happened to '90s heartthrob Brendan Fraser, you're not alone. The actor was once the hottest male star in Hollywood, then suddenly and unceremoniously seemed to drop off everyone's radar. Thankfully, Brendan's making a comeback on the new FX series "Trust," a 10-episode crime drama based on the true story of the 1973 kidnapping of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty's grandson. In honor of Brendan's return to Hollywood — "Trust" debuts on March 25, 2018 — Wonderwall.com is taking a look at how his life has changed since he first shot to fame. Keep reading for more…
Brendan Fraser's first starring role on the big screen came in the 1992 comedy "Encino Man" opposite Sean Astin and Pauly Shore. The movie, about two modern high school teenagers who discover (and thaw) a frozen caveman in Southern California, was a huge hit with fans and helped make Brendan a star.
Just four months later, Brendan Fraser starred in the drama "School Ties" with little-known actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. The film told the story of a Jewish high school football star in the 1950s who wins a coveted scholarship to a prep school for his senior year but is forced to hide his religion. Critics hailed Brendan's performance as powerful yet nuanced.
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In 1994, Brendan Fraser stepped out with "Fried Green Tomatoes" and "Reality Bites" actress Afton Smith. The two were seen nearly everywhere together, from restaurant dates to movie premieres and even award show red carpets. They took things to the next level and married in 1998.
The same year Brendan Fraser began dating Afton Smith, he starred in "Airheads" alongside Adam Sandler and Steve Buscemi. Although critics widely panned the film as absurd, fans slowly came around, building somewhat of a cult following for the comedy. If anything, it showed that Brendan had the ability to transition from serious to more playful roles with finesse.
If Brendan Fraser was famous in 1997, he became a bona fide worldwide sensation after the premiere of his action comedy "George of the Jungle," in which he starred as the title character alongside Leslie Mann. The film was a hit at the box office, bringing in more than $174 million worldwide and cementing Brendan's status as a hunky leading man.
In 1998, Brendan Fraser returned to the big screen to play a gardener in the 1950s drama "Gods and Monsters," which told the story of "Frankenstein" director James Whale's last days. Film critic Roger Ebert described Brendan's portrayal as "subtle and attuned" and Rolling Stone called the film "elegantly witty and haunting." Although the movie failed to draw crowds at the box office, it was clear evidence that Brendan had plenty of talent and was far more than just a pretty face.
Of course, it's only a matter of time before Hollywood puts its most handsome and talented stars in an action-movie franchise, and that's exactly what they did to Brendan Fraser when they made him the lead in the 1999 fantasy-adventure film "The Mummy." The movie (which was actually a semi-remake of the 1932 original of the same name) told the story of an American who mistakenly awakens an ancient mummy who's hell-bent on destroying the world. The movie was a major box office success, bringing in more than $415 in worldwide sales, which led to a sequel in 2001 and another in 2008, both starring Brendan.
On Sept. 17, 2002, Brendan Fraser and wife Afton Smith welcomed their first child, Griffin Arthur Fraser. Brendan, who was just a few months shy of turning 34 at the time of his son's birth, was excited to start a family. Growing up, Brendan had three brothers and dreamed of having a full house of his own kids. The actor later revealed that Griffin, who has fiery red hair, is on the autism spectrum.
The same year Brendan Fraser's son Griffin was born, he made two cameos on Season 1 of the hit comedy series "Scrubs." On the show, Brendan played Ben Sullivan, a hospital patient and sibling to one of the main characters. Seen here with Zach Braff and John C. McGinley, Brendan returned to the series for a third and final time in 2004 before his character was killed off. It wasn't Brendan's first time on TV, but it was his first recurring television role.
Unfortunately, not all of Brendan Fraser's roles were applauded. In fact, Brendan starred in a series of flops including 1999's "Dudley Do-Right," 2001's "Monkeybone" and the 2003 live-action and animated comedy "Looney Tunes: Back in Action" co-starring Jenna Elfman (seen here). The films were so bad, they lost significant amounts of money at the box office. "Looney Tunes" spent $80 million on production costs but only managed to take in $20 million in domestic sales. Critics were starting to wonder if Brendan's success was just a passing fad.
Brendan Fraser wasn't going down without a fight. In 2005 — a year after his second son, Holden Fletcher Fraser, was born — he co-starred in the gripping dramatic thriller "Crash" and blew critics and audiences away with his performance. The movie told the stories of several people in Los Angeles whose lives were interwoven, exploring matters of race, social class and power. The low-budget film was a runaway hit, bringing in more than $98 million worldwide and earning its director, Paul Haggis, an Academy Award nomination.
In 2006, "Crash" was stilling earning accolades. Along with his castmates, Brendan Fraser — who played Los Angeles District Attorney Rick Cabot in the film — took home a SAG Award and a Critics' Choice Award for best ensemble.
2006 was also the year Brendan Fraser and his wife, Afton Smith, welcomed their third child, son Leland Francis Fraser. Brendan was back on top and ready to take on the world.
Banking on Brendan Fraser's marketability, he was cast as the lead in the family fantasy-adventure film "Journey to the Center of the Earth" in 2008 alongside child star Josh Hutcherson. The movie — about a scientist and his nephew, who find a way to the center of the Earth as they track down their missing brother/father — was a hit with fans in the U.S. but a phenomenal success abroad, bringing in an additional $140 million in sales. Soon after its release, there was talk of a sequel.
In 2007, after nine years of marriage and 13 years together, Brendan Fraser and Afton Smith announced their separation though declined to publicly share a reason for the split. Two years later, the couple officially divorced, reportedly on good terms. In their settlement, Brendan reportedly agreed to pay Afton $50,000 a month in alimony plus another $25,000 a month in child support.
In 2010, Brendan Fraser tried his hand at something new when he co-starred alongside Denis O'Hare in a Broadway production of "Elling," a play about two friends who meet in a mental institution and slowly learn to adapt to the real world upon their release, together. Unfortunately, the play got poor reviews from critics, even though they acknowledged the cast was "talented."
At the 2011 Vanity Fair Oscar Party, Brendan Fraser had a new lady by his side — Natalia Bruschi, a hairstylist from Los Angeles. While typically private Brendan refused to disclose any details about their relationship, pictures from that night show the couple playfully posing and kissing in a photo booth. It's unclear how long the two dated or if they're even still together.
In 2011, Brendan Fraser experienced a major setback in his career when producers of the fantasy family-adventure film "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" fired him from the sequel and replaced him with Dwayne Johnson. Although Brendan had been cast as the lead, the studio was moving forward with filming without the original movie's director, Eric Brevig, who was unavailable at the time. Brendan hoped to stall production by refusing to work until Eric wrapped up his other project, but the studio decided instead to let Brendan go and get The Rock to fill the role, which was rewritten as a new character. What made matters worse was that the sequel outperformed the original by millions, dimming Brendan's star power.
Things got drastically worse for Brendan Fraser in October 2012. The actor — seen here earlier that month at the Hamptons International Film Festival premiere of "Whole Lotta Sole" — seriously injured his back while cleaning up his property in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. His injuries were so bad, Brendan would later require surgery and months of physical therapy to recover. It would be a year before he was seen out in public again, but even then, things weren't great for the star. His waning Hollywood reputation and the lingering effects of back surgery resulted in fewer roles than ever before, which, he claimed, meant less money in his bank account. He petitioned the court to reduce his hefty alimony payments to his ex-wife, Afton Smith, who charged in court papers of her own that her former husband was lying and still raking in the big bucks.
In 2013, after a busy year of indie movie premieres, Brendan Fraser appeared alongside Vanessa Hudgens and Rosario Dawson in the emotional drama "Gimme Shelter." The film told the story of a young girl who escapes her drug-addicted, abusive mother to find her negligent father (played by Brendan), only to learn she doesn't fit into his new life and family. Brendan wouldn't appear on-screen again for another two years.
After appearing in the 2015 miniseries "Texas Rising," Brendan Fraser returned to television on Season 3 of the Showtime drama "The Affair." While promoting the series in 2016, Brendan visited AOL headquarters in New York City for an interview (seen here) that later went viral due to the actor's strange behavior. Fans immediately noticed that Brendan seemed demure, quiet and even depressed throughout the talk. While some speculated that he was lonely or still sad after his 2013 alimony battle with his ex-wife, no one knew for certain what had happened to the once dynamic star.
In 2018, Brendan Fraser (seen here in 1994 with one of his brothers, mom Carol Fraser and father Peter Fraser) revealed during an interview with GQ magazine that the reason he seemed down during that viral 2016 AOL interview was because he was grieving the loss of his mother, who'd died just a few days earlier. Of the experience, he said, "I buried my mom. I think I was in mourning, and I didn't know what that meant."
In that same GQ magazine interview in February 2018, Brendan Fraser also revealed something about his past that took many by surprise. The actor claimed that in 2003, he was sexually assaulted by the former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (which runs the Golden Globes), Philip Berk. Brendan described a humiliating experience in which, he alleged, Philip grabbed his buttocks and touched his perineum, causing the actor to feel overcome with "panic and fear." He later demanded an apology from Philip and the HFPA and in return received a letter expressing remorse. Philip denied the accusations, explaining that he "pinched" Brendan's buttocks "in jest" and that the letter didn't admit any wrongdoing but was instead meant to make Brendan feel better about whatever he'd done to offend him. While the actor isn't certain this experience hindered his once flourishing career, he does believe there is a correlation, saying, "I don't know if this curried disfavor with the group, with the HFPA. But the silence was deafening." He also said the assault left him "depressed" and "reclusive." He found the courage to finally come forward, he said, after watching friends in Hollywood, like Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd, share their own accounts of sexual assault in the industry, adding, "I watched this wonderful movement, these people with the courage to say what I didn't have the courage to say."
On March 25, 2018, Brendan Fraser returns to television with the premiere of the dramatic crime series "Trust," in which he plays James Fletcher Chase, a former private investigator who's sent by the Getty family to negotiate the release of their kidnapped family member. Also on the horizon for Brendan are two films: the Indian crime drama "The Field" and the sci-fi romance "Behind the Curtain."