Brendan Fraser

It's hard to believe that Brendan Fraser is a classically trained actor.  His career has largely revolved around showing off his pecs and six-pack.

He traded in the skin exploitation for The Quiet American, the Miramax production based on the Graham Greene novel about a love triangle set against the French Indo China war.

The film allowed Fraser to prove himself more than just a Hollywood hunk and breaks the industry's "type casting" that he feared he would never shed.

He's has demonstrated that he’s a versatile actor with a unique talent for tapping into the humane and often lighthearted nature of his characters. This couldn’t be more evident in his latest film, Warner Bros.’ new live-action comedy-adventure Looney Tunes: Back in Action.

Looney Tunes cartoon shorts,” says Fraser. “Whether I knew it or not at the time, they introduced me to classical music, comedy timing, the art of joke setup and delivery, and it all came together in an animated short. They were always in tune -- pardon the pun -- with what was going on in the day, politically and in pop culture.

Fraser was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, the son of a Canadian government tourism official.  As his father traveled from foreign posting to foreign posting young Brendan was brought along. Finally the family returned to Toronto where Brendan was enrolled in the prestigious Upper Canada College, the country's leading prep school.

A natural athlete, he began working on his abs at an early age, but it was at UCC where he discovered acting. By the time he graduated he knew he wanted to be an actor.   Fraser entered the theatre department at the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, where he pursued a fine arts degree with an emphasis on physical performance.

Brendan Fraser's  Films

The young performing arts grad soon found steady work with Seattle's Intiman Theatre, as well as with the Laughing Horse Summer Theatre in Ellensburg, Washington, where he appeared in such standards as A Midsummer Night's Dream, Arms and the Man, and Waiting for Godot.

Returning to Toronto he appeared in several unmemorable stage productions and a one liner in a film that was never released. Toronto was not going to be the place where he would score his big break.  It was time to think "Hollywood".  In January of 1991, Fraser borrowed his mom's Chevy Spectrum and headed for the palm-lined boulevards of Southern California. 

Tinseltown took notice of the fresh face and hard body almost immediately  Fraser appeared in two made-for-TV movies: the based-on-a-true-story Guilty Until Proven Innocent; and the latter-day virgin-birth drama Child of Darkness, Child of Light. With a bit part that same year in the Vietnam-era romantic morality play, Dogfight, Fraser stood poised to advance his career on both the big and small screens.

In 1992 the advance came with Encino Man the slice of So-Cal about a Cro-Magnon man who is liberated from his ice cocoon only to commit the requisite series of predictably lame faux pas in his attempts to adapt to twentieth-century life. 

But, the film did little for his reputation as a serious actor.  It did however endear the hunk to gays and women.

One of those women was Paramount Pictures head Sherry Lansing, who selected Fraser for the role of a Jewish kid on a boarding-school football scholarship circa 1950 in School Ties. "Brendan came into the room, very shy," Lansing remembers. "We said: 'Here are three scenes. Read.' And suddenly his stance changes. And this person emerges whom you can't take your eyes off. He's like all the good ones. They become the person." 

Fraser turned in a stellar performance yet, it was his ability at comedy that sustained him.  He appeared in the utterly forgettable comedy about a struggling band, Airheads and the story of a law student whose thesis is intercepted by a homeless man, With Honors. Fraser consistently rated higher praise than the films in which he appears.

Twenty Bucks, for example — are overshadowed by projects conceived to revisit safe thematic territory, such as 1996's fatuous mistaken-identity flop Mrs. Winterbourne. As the titular character in the live-action film George of the Jungle, Fraser came full circle, returning to the analphabetic physical comedy of his baptismal starring role. Luckily, the sometime Cro-Magnon has continued to appeal to producers of higher-minded fare like director Bill Condon's biopic exploration of the final days of horror director James Whale, Gods and Monsters, and the sophisticated date movie Blast From the Past, which paired him in romance with Alicia Silverstone. Fraser cut a dashing figure in the 1999 action remake The Mummy, a film which he followed with a comic turn as the title character of Dudley Do-Right.