What the Hell Happened to Brendan Fraser?
Brendan Fraser always seemed like he was one big movie away from being an A-list star. All through the 90’s the media buzzed about his potential. At the end of the decade, Fraser finally had a couple of big hit movies. And yet, he still couldn’t cross over to the A-list. More than a decade later, Fraser is still a respected working actor. But the A-list potential has dried up.
What the hell happened?
Fraser’s first acting role was in a reenactment on America’s Most Wanted in 1988. He appeared in a TV movie, Child of Darkness, Child of Light in 1991. That same year, Fraser had a cameo role as a sailor who gets into a fight in the River Phoenix movie, Dogfight (pictured above, clip below)
1992 was a big year for Fraser. First he starred in the comedy, Encino Man opposite Sean Astin and Pauly Shore.
Astin and Shore played teenage dopes in the Wayne and Garth mold. They were kind of a poor man’s Bill and Ted. Even that description may set expectations too high since the “funny one” was played by Pauly Shore. At the time, Shore was a popular personality on MTV and Disney hoped to capitalize on that popularity with Encino Man.
Fraser played a caveman who awakens in the 90’s in Encino , CA. Austin and Shore try to use their discovery of the caveman to become more popular at high school. The movie follows the teen comedy formula to the letter. It’s one saving grace is Fraser’s goofy performance as the prehistoric fish out of water.
Despite negative reviews, Encino Man was a hit. As a result, audiences were subjected to years of Pauly Shore movies and a direct-to-TV sequel, Encino Woman.
Fraser went on to reprise his role as Link in a cameo appearance in Shore’s 1993 film, Son-in-Law. He also played a soldier with the nick-name Link on his fatigues in Shore’s 1994 movie, In the Army Now. Apparently that ended Fraser’s indentured servitude and he was spared the indignity of cameos in Jury Duty and Bio-Dome.
Later that year, Fraser starred in the drama, School Ties, opposite Matt Damon, Chris O’Donnell and Ben Affleck.
Fraser played a Jewish student who transfers to a private school on an athletic scholarship during his senior year. The film is set in the 1950’s and Fraser’s character faces rampant anti-Semitism. To protect himself, he hides his religion from his fellow students.
While filming, director Robert Mandel told the young cast that they would go on to be the next Brat Pack. He was right in the sense that many members of the cast went on to be famous. But fortunately they were not stigmatized with a label like the 80’s actors were.
School Ties received mixed to positive reviews and did moderately well at the box office.
1992 is basically a microcosm of Fraser’s career. He would bounce between goofy comedic roles like Encino Man and more dramatic roles like School Ties. On the one hand, few actors have the kind of range to pull off both broad slapstick and drama. On the other, Fraser never seemed to find a niche.
In 1993, Fraser appeared in the movie, Twenty Bucks.
Twenty Bucks followed a $20 bill from an ATM machine until it is finally turned in to be shredded. Over the course of the movie, the twenty dollar bill passes through the lives of several people played by Fraser, Linda Hunt, Elisabeth Shue, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Lloyd, William H. Macy and others.
Twenty Bucks got mixed reviews and barely appeared in theaters. That same year, Fraser starred opposite Donald Sutherland in Younger and Younger, a comedy that was even less seen than Twenty Bucks.
Next: With Honors and Airheads
Posted on March 2, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged Brendan Fraser, crash, encino man, George of the Jungle, journey to the center of the earth, school ties, the mummy. Bookmark the permalink. 245 Comments.