Iconic Roles is a look at some of the best performances in film and television by actors and actresses.
Thanks to his charming smile and light-blue eyes, Brendan Fraser conquered the hearts of thousands of fans and quickly rose to popularity in the nineties. For most of his career, Fraser took part in comedies, but he also acted in several dramas and blockbusters, The Mummy film series above all. After making his long-feature film debut in a small role in 1991’s Dogfight, Fraser earned some praise thanks to his lighthearted performance as Link in Encino Man. The past few years haven’t been easy on Fraser, who took some time away from the spotlight, but he seems now in a better mental and spiritual place. His latest role sees the appreciated actor portraying a 600-pound English teacher attempting to reconnect with his daughter in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale. The movie premiered in Venice earlier this year, with critics and audiences praising Fraser’s efforts as Charlie.
Here’s a list of some of the best Brendan Fraser drama movies.
David Greene in School Ties (1992)
One of the first tests in Fraser’s career came in 1992 when he landed the protagonist role in Robert Mandel’s school drama. Greene (Fraser) is the new quarterback at St. Matthew’s Academy, a prestigious prep school. When he finds out most of his schoolmates are antisemites, Greene opts to hide he’s a Jew. The film also starred Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Cole Hauser, among others. While the story was generally well-received by critics, the movie didn’t pass the audience test and bombed at the box office, failing to top its $18 million production budget.
Clayton Boone in Gods and Monsters (1998)
By 1998, Frazer had already caught the attention of insiders and fans alike as one of the Hollywood rising stars. While he would land his most iconic role one year after Gods and Monsters, he did prove he was ready for bigger and better challenges after Bill Condon’s period drama. The story follows the last days of film director James Whale (Ian McKellen), the director of Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. Sensing the end is near, Whale falls for Boone (Fraser), his young, straight gardener. It is never easy to share the stage with a big name like McKellen, but Frazer was up to the task. Hands down, Gods and Monsters is one of the best Brendan Fraser drama movies, even though fans didn’t rush to watch it when it hit theaters.
Alden Pyle in The Quiet American (2002)
In the live-action adaptation of the well-known novel of the same name by Henry Graham Greene, Fraser shared the spotlight with some actorial royalty in Michael Caine. Fraser’s character is an undercover CIA agent operating in Saigon, Vietnam, who falls in love with a beautiful Vietnamese woman (Do Thi Hai Yen), also desired by British journalist Thomas Fowler (Caine). Surprisingly, Fraser and Caine showed great chemistry as their characters vied for the woman’s attention. While Caine stole the show and landed an Oscar nomination for Best Actor that year, Fraser proved he could stand his ground even with some of the best actors in the industry, also showcasing great versatility. The cast also featured Robert Stanton and Holmes Osborne, among others.
John Crowley in Extraordinary Measures (2010)
Tom Vaughan’s touching movie would make even stones cry, and part of the merit is due to Fraser’s heartful performance. The film adapts the story of a pair of parents leaving no stone unturned to save the life of their children, who suffer from a rare, life-threatening heart disease. After several failed attempts, they decide to try the experimental treatment of a visionary doctor (Harrison Ford). Extraordinary Measures also enrolled Keri Russell.
Doug Jones in No Sudden Move (2021)
The first sign Fraser weathered his personal storm came with Steven Soderbergh’s appreciated period crime film, where Fraser portrayed a shady recruiter. The story takes place in 1954 Detroit and follows the dirty business of a criminal gang. Even though Fraser’s part is relatively small, it is poignant enough to leave a mark. The ensemble cast also featured Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, David Harbour, Jon Hamm, Ray Liotta, and Amy Seimetz, among others. The movie was released amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and never hit theaters. Currently, it is available on HBO Max.