At the peak of his career, Brendan Fraser was known for his high-flying, physical roles in movies like George of the Jungle and The Mummy. But those stunt-filled movies took a serious toll on his body.
The actor, 49, reflected on those years in a profile with GQ, where he said it was a point in his life where he would take on any acting job he could get.
“I believe I probably was trying too hard, in a way that’s destructive,” Fraser said. “By the time I did the third Mummy picture in China [in 2008] I was put together with tape and ice — just, like, really nerdy and fetishy about ice packs. Screw-cap ice packs and downhill-mountain-biking pads, ’cause they’re small and light and they can fit under your clothes. I was building an exoskeleton for myself daily.”
His injuries led to multiple surgeries, including a laminectomy, a back procedure to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. But, “the lumbar didn’t take, so they had to do it again a year later,” Fraser said.
He also had a partial knee replacement, more back surgeries to bolt compressed spinal pads together, vocal cord repair and other procedures. Fraser said that he essentially spent seven years going in and out of the hospital.
“This is gonna really probably be a little saccharine for you,” Fraser said. “But I felt like the horse from Animal Farm, whose job it was to work and work and work. Orwell wrote a character who was, I think, the proletariat. He worked for the good of the whole, he didn’t ask questions, he didn’t make trouble until it killed him. … I don’t know if I’ve been sent to the glue factory, but I’ve felt like I’ve had to rebuild s— that I’ve built that got knocked down and do it again for the good of everyone. Whether it hurts you or not.”
Fraser said that his injuries were one of the many reasons he distanced himself from the spotlight, along with being sexually harassed by Philip Berk, a former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association [Berk denies the allegation], plus his divorce from actress Afton Smith and his mother’s death from cancer in 2016.
“Going to work — in between being in and out of those hospitals, that wasn’t always possible. So what I’m saying to you sounds, I hope, not like some sort of ‘Hey, I had a boo-boo. I needed to put a Band-Aid on it,’ but more of an account of the reality of what I was walking around in,” Fraser explained.
“I changed houses; I went through a divorce. Some kids were born. I mean, they were born, but they’re growing up. I was going through things that mold and shape you in ways that you’re not ready for until you go through them.”