ByKarly Rayner, writer at
Movie Pilot's celebrity savant
Karly Rayner

Tom Cruise's new movie The Mummy has finally hit theaters, and let's just say that it's gone down about as well as one of Anubis's organ jars at a pot luck dinner. But while the reception was drier than a dusty sarcophagus, there is no denying the Universal flick awoke the nostalgia within us.

The ancient Egyptian undertones and action-adventure format made audiences long for the simpler days of Indiana Jones-esque frolics that were actually set in Egypt. In particular, a wistful desire to see how would have tackled the flick was paramount.

It feels like we haven't seen the leading man who once burned so bright for years; but why did Fraser become one of the lost actors of his generation, and could 2017 finally be the year we see him return?

Swinging To The Top On That Sweet Disney Vine

Anyone around my age will remember an oily, rippling Brendan Fraser swinging onto our screens as the lovable doofus George of the Jungle (1997). Admittedly, it's not really a movie you can watch as an adult without turning inside out through the sheer force of cringe, but this gleefully silly hit allowed a then 29-year-old Fraser to lunge into the big time.

Of course, Fraser clambered up sand dunes to his highest point of Hollywood glory in 1999's The Mummy. Captivating audiences with his swashbuckling portrayal of Rick O'Connell, Fraser turned out to be a masterstroke of casting, despite being far from first choice for the role — that honor went to none other than Tom Cruise.

Fraser's comic-timing and his ability to bring an appealing approachability into O'Connell was certainly a huge factor in The Mummy's success — but although it was one of the defining action movies of the '90s, casting Brendan was still by no means a safe bet.

Casting Brendan: A Gamble, Not A Certainty

Dudley, unfortunately, did not go so righty [Credit: Universal Pictures]
Dudley, unfortunately, did not go so righty [Credit: Universal Pictures]

In the very same year that Brendan cemented his stardom in The Mummy, he had already began chipping away at his efforts with huge box office stinker, and despite the moderate successes, there were more flops to come before The Mummy Returns.

Probably the most disastrous was Dudley Do-Right, which did not do-great at the box office. Grossing just shy of $10 million against a budget of $70 million, this tale of a dimwitted mountie was a bomb of the highest order. Not to mention the damning reviews of the "thunderously bad movie."

While romantic comedies Blast From the Past (1999) and Bedazzled (2000) were box office successes with mixed reviews, Fraser fronted yet another huge failure before donning his floppy curtains once more in The Mummy Returns.

2001's Monkeybone was a flop of monumental proportions, and although this was mainly due to a scattergun plot that relied way to hard on comedy celebrity cameos (Oh look! Whoppi Goldberg is death, how fun!), it did nothing for Fraser's standing as a go-to box office draw.

The Mummy Returns... Before Being Unceremoniously Murdered Once More

The box office success of 2001's The Mummy Returns (it grossed an impressive $335 million) gave Fraser's career the thrust it needed to land a roles in the Academy Award-winning Crash (2004) and the critically acclaimed remake of The Quiet American (2002).

Brendan Fraser's roles in these critical darlings were undoubtably helpful for his career, and Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) landed the star back in his element; a quirky action movie with playful undertones which perfectly suited his acting style.

Riding on the action wave, Fraser cruised straight back into The Mummy franchise with The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), the ill-fated and final installment in the ancient Egyptian odyssey.

By no means a flop, The Mummy 3 simply seemed outdated in the cinematic landscape; critics noted that the series was "past its prime," and relied largely on overblown special effects to keep audiences engaged.

While The Mummy Returns salvaged Fraser's career, the third installment basically killed it again. The star was soon replaced by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in the Journey to the Center of the Earth franchise, which marked the beginning of the end of his career in the public eye. Fraser got lost in a labyrinth of flops, one of which — Furry Vengeance — was the lowest rated movie of 2010.

'Furry Vengeance,' Brendan's face says it all [Credit: Summit Entertainment]
'Furry Vengeance,' Brendan's face says it all [Credit: Summit Entertainment]

A slew of personal and financial problems followed, and Fraser largely faded into obscurity. Despite featuring in a number of movies and TV shows, Brendan became most recognizable for his well-publicized personal problems and tired appearance.

Could The Small Screen Offer A Second Chance?

While Tom Cruise being cast in The Mummy reboot was clearly a blow for Fraser, as the interview below clearly shows, the fact that the project put his name in the public sphere once more was beneficial.

After recurring appearances in both Texas Rising (2015) and The Affair (2016-2017) on the small screen, it seems like Fraser will follow many of his contemporaries in bringing Hollywood hype to TV.

While going from the silver screen to television was once the sign of a career in remission, the Netflix revolution has seen TV grow in prestige and offer a platform for big name stars to shine in projects that truly permeate pop culture.

Fraser already has his name on two promising upcoming projects, and he has landed a leading role in both of them. The first, Trust is directed the the prestigious Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting) and will see Fraser play a private investigator (James Fletcher Chace) investigating the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, the heir to Getty oil.

The second is Condor, which will co-star Max Irons and Mira Sorvino. Condor is based on Sydney Pollack's film Three Days of the Condor — think something along the lines of Fargo, but with less comedy and more politics.

Both of these shows offer serious meat for Fraser to sink his teeth into, and are proof that serious directors recognize the star has the acting ability to pull off nuanced and complicated characters.

If these shows perform well, TV could be a bold new world for Fraser to thrive in, and his mass appeal means he has real potential to become a sought after talent after the unfortunate lull in his career.

The success of an almost-forgotten Winona Ryder in Stranger Things shows that nostalgic stars can really help pull in the viewers while also pulling their weight on the production. If she can do it, I have every faith that Brendan can too.

Do you want Brendan Fraser to make a comeback? If so, which projects can you envisage him starring in? Let us know in the comments.


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