Oscar-nominated actor Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”) said in a recent interview that he took very physically challenging roles early in his career because “on some level I felt I deserved” the beatings that came with them.
Fraser told The Telegraph in an article that was published Saturday that he had felt the need to take on the physical challenges — even doing his own stunts for action movies like “The Mummy” (1999) and nearly starving himself of carbohydrates for 1997’s “George of the Jungle” — because he believed he needed to earn his way to blockbuster status.
“I’m older now; I don’t look the way I did in those days, and I don’t necessarily want to,” Fraser told The Telegraph. “I got a little banged up from years of doing my own stunts and needed a surgical fix on the spine and the hinges.”
Fraser has since undergone a number of procedures, including a partial knee replacement, spinal surgery, and a repair to his vocal chords.
“Those physical performances, whether fighting, dancing or comedy, had an element of self-sacrifice. But it wasn’t very clever of me at all,” Fraser admitted, explaining that by the time he made the third film in “The Mummy” franchise, he was basically being held together by ice packs and duct tape.
“Like a gladiator with muscle tape and ice packs, strapping on this Transformer-like exoskeleton just to get through the scene,” as he described it.
Fraser went on to explain that putting in the physical work was how he felt he needed to “earn” roles in bigger blockbusters — but he noted that self-doubt and even self-loathing may have also played a role in that.
“I think on some level I felt I deserved [a beating] and wanted to be the one to get in the first punch,” he said.
Fraser’s latest role in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale” — for which he earned his first Oscar nomination — was physical in a very different way: the “Encino Man” actor had to pack on the pounds and then add a fat suit to play the role of Charlie, an obese teacher whose addiction to food is literally killing him.
“All I can say is that I knew it had to be done with sensitivity and honesty,” he said. “Putting quotation marks around Charlie — trying to sentimentalize him, or make him a circus act — would be nothing that I would want to be a part of,” Fraser said of the role, pushing back on critics who panned the use of the fat suit.