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Brendan Fraser’s Rare Public Outings Before His Big Hollywood Return: Photos of ‘The Whale’ Actor 

Longtime fans of Brendan Fraser were delighted to see him make his big Hollywood comeback in 2022. But before then, the Encino Man actor took a step back from the spotlight, making only a few rare public appearances over the years. 

Brendan found fame in the early ‘90s as he took on some of his first acting roles in films like Airheads, The Scout and Glory Days. In 1997, he played the titular character in Disney’s George of the Jungle. The blockbuster success grossed more than $174 million worldwide, per IMDb.

Two years later, the Indiana native landed the lead in The Mummy, opposite Rachel Weisz. The fantasy film spawned two sequels in which Brendan reprised his role of Rick O’Connell. Though he became one of the most recognizable faces in the action film genre, Brendan was saddled with injuries while working on the films. 

“By the time I did the third Mummy picture in China, I was put together with tape and ice — just, like, really nerdy and fetishy about ice packs,” he told GQ in February 2018. “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.” 

After going through multiple surgeries on his back, knees and spine over the span of seven years, the Scrubs alum looked toward his next big career move. He was part of the critically acclaimed crime drama Crash in 2004 and later starred in Journey to the End of the Night in 2006. 

Brendan reprised his role in Journey to the Center of the Earth in 2008 but did not appear in the third installment of the series in 2012. In his personal life, Brendan and his wife, Afton Smith, announced they were divorcing in 2007 after nine years of marriage.

Their divorce was finalized in 2009. The former couple share three children together: Griffin, Holden and Leland. After facing trying times in both his personal and professional life, Brendan decided to take a step back from the gaze of Hollywood. 

“I bought into the pressure that comes with the hopes and aims that come with a professional life that’s being molded and shaped and guided and managed,” he said. “That requires what they call thick skin, or just ignoring it, putting your head in the sand, or gnashing your teeth and putting on your public face, or just not even … needing the public. Ignoring. Staying home, damn it. You know, not ’cause I’m aloof or anything, but because I just felt I couldn’t be a part of it. I didn’t feel that I belonged.”

While he did make a few film and television appearances here and there, his career truly saw its comeback once he was cast in The Whale. The Darren Aronofsky-directed drama earned Brendan a standing ovation at the Venice International Film Festival in September, bringing the longtime actor to tears. 

Keep scrolling to see rare photos of Brendan before his big Hollywood comeback.