Brendan Fraser's career has been an interesting one, when you look at it from a distance.
His career began in a typical fashion, starring in a number of TV movies and a cult comedy or two - Encino Man and Airheads being two particularly well-known ones. In 1992, just after filming was completed on Encino Man, Fraser was cast alongside a then-young Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Chris O'Donnell in School Ties. The prep-school drama saw Fraser give a haunting performance as a Jewish teenager who has to conceal his background and religious identity in order to keep his scholarship. Fraser's performance was praised as being both heartfelt, natural and nuanced.
Throughout the '90s, Fraser's path to super-stardom was pretty straightforward. He had turned up in leading and supporting roles in a number of indie dramas, including 1998's Gods And Monsters alongside Ian McKellen. Only briefly did Fraser opt for more commercial fare, such as 1997's George Of The Jungle. In 1999, Fraser signed on to play Rick O'Connell in The Mummy. His role would see him ape the likes of Harrison Ford and Errol Flynn, with many citing his leading man looks and natural charisma as a big draw. The film was a commercial success and critics rallied behind Fraser almost immediately.
Promotional image from The Mummy, with Arnold Voslooh
2000's Bedazzled, with Liz Hurley, was another critical and commercial success. 2001 saw The Mummy Returns grossing $433 million on a budget of just under $100 million, despite mixed reviews and a Rotten Tomatoes score of 47%. 2002 saw Fraser star alongside Michael Caine in the Oscar-nominated drama The Quiet American. Fraser played a CIA agent in '50s Vietnam who becomes entangled in a love affair with a woman. His restrained, underplayed performance was hailed by critics as a revelation. The same year, Fraser turned on TV's Scrubs as the older brother to series regular Christa Miller. The 2004 episode, My Screw-Up, starred Fraser and is regularly cited as the best episode of the entire series. It also received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing In A Comedy Series.
It seemed as though Fraser had graduated from action star to bonafide star. 2004's Crash solidified Fraser's presence on the A-List and an Oscar, it seemed, wasn't far off for him. All he needed was the right role.
In 2006, Fraser starred in two independent films - Journey To The End Of The Night and The Last Time - both of which went largely overlooked by both festival audiences and mainstream audiences. It's clear that Fraser - or at least his agent - was angling him towards auteur indie films that he could elevate by bringing his own starpower to. Neither gambits worked, however. 2007's The Air I Breathe was a critical and commercial disaster, despite having a well-known cast that included Fraser, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Julie Delpy, Forrest Whittaker and Kevin Bacon.
2008's The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor proved that both Brendan Fraser and The Mummy series was beginning to wane in the public's hearts. 2010, however, became Fraser's annus horribilis. Extraordinary Measures saw Fraser star alongside Harrison Ford as a medical executive who's trying to fund a research scientist (Ford) so he can find a cure for a rare disease his children suffer from. The film was a timely project and had some heavyweights behind it, however it only made back approximately 50% of its budget. Next came Furry Vengeance, a by-the-numbers family comedy with Brooke Shields. On a budget of $35,000,000, the film just barely scraped its money back. These would be the final wide-release films Fraser would star in, aside from a voice role in 2014's The Nut Job. In 2012, the sequel for Journey To The Centre Of The Earth was underway, however Fraser wanted to hold out for the original director whom he'd formed a bond with. The studio didn't see it that way and chucked Fraser out and replaced him with Dwayne Johnson.
Brendan Fraser in 2015
In 2013, Fraser petitioned a court to reduce his alimony payments and child-support to his ex-wife. Fraser was paying $900,000 to his ex-wife, however he claimed he was unable to meet this. Fraser's ex-wife, Afton Smith, claimed he was hiding his finances. Fraser's fate is, of course, not that uncommon. A number of actors who peaked in the late '90s and early '00s have since had to reevaluate their careers and reform themselves. There's only a handful of examples of actors who made it out of that time period with their careers intact, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck being the two most recognisable. Since 2010, Fraser has not starred in a major film. 2015 saw Fraser star in the History Channel's original TV miniseries, Texas Rising. His website, brendanfraser.com, hasn't been updated in ten years and is often the butt of jokes for its horribly dated layout and effects.
Even in his purple patch, Fraser was known for keeping a low profile and was rarely the subject of tabloid exposes. When he did make red carpet appearances, his hair-plugs were the subject of jibes from celebrity gossip journalists. His weight gain became a regular prodding point, yet Fraser rarely interacted with the celebrity culture. In a 2010 interview, Fraser was open about the cyclical nature of mainstream Hollywood. "People don't like me, they like the movies. Me personally? Yawn. You do a movie, Hollywood loves you for a while. They love you, they love you, they love you until - oh, they love someone else now. It's not cyclical, it's... it's... ficklical!"