- Actor Brendan Fraser has been out of the limelight for years.
- But content about the actor has racked up over 166 million views on TikTok.
- Many young creators think Fraser got unfair treatment in Hollywood.
Actor Brendan Fraser has become a TikTok obsession, despite the fact that he’s been largely absent from the public eye for a decade.
Videos under the #BrendanFraser hashtag have racked up 166 million views, with creators thirsting over old clips from “George of the Jungle” and praising him for his humble nature and vulnerability in recent interview segments.
Fans have also focused in on Fraser’s sudden disappearance from the early aughts cultural landscape, which Fraser has said came after an incident of nonconsensual touching from someone in the entertainment industry.
After his final leading role in a major movie in 2001 with “The Mummy Returns,” Fraser essentially disappeared when he was widely considered to be in his prime. In a 2018 GQ profile, he revealed he retreated from public life following an incident with Philip Berk, a former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), who Fraser said groped his buttocks at a 2003 event. Fraser said he became depressed and felt reclusive after the incident, and wondered if he had been “blacklisted” by the industry. Berk said he apologized to Fraser in a letter about the incident, yet “admitted no wrongdoing” or blacklisting.
Central to the new wave of Fraser-related content is a respect and admiration for him for speaking out about his own #MeToo experience, and a shared opinion that he should have been treated better by the industry. A new generation of fans, which calls the era “The Brenaissance,” is hoping for a resurrection of Fraser’s career. And their wish seems to be coming true, with Fraser’s exciting roster of upcoming roles.
Insider spoke to Fraser’s fans and media experts about what makes him the perfect celebrity for the internet generation.
Nostalgic creators see Fraser as a welcome contrast to the ‘dark and dreary’ side of the internet
One of the top Fraser TikToks, with 2.5 million views, was posted by cosplayer Lindley Key, 30, who interviewed Fraser at an online convention called Galaxy Con Live in August. Key said she “fell in love” with Fraser when he played the heartthrob adventurer Rick O’Connell in “The Mummy” in 1999.
“He was just the perfect hero in that movie,” she said.
Key thinks nostalgia plays a part in Fraser’s popularity online, with many people in their 20s and 30s remembering him as their first “celebrity crush.” Key’s own love for Fraser was reignited when he slowly started to reappear, and she learned more about what he was like as a person. His humor and kindness, she said, is “what the world needs right now” when the internet, and the outside world, can seem “dark and dreary.”
“For someone who has gone through what he’s gone through and to still have such a huge heart, that kindness is infectious,” she said.
Alyssa Mairanz, a clinical therapist who owns a practice in New York where she works with young adults and teens, told Insider the “Brenaissance” connects to Gen-Z and millennials who are are “sensitive to authenticity.”
“Brendan offers information to the public that is raw, sad, and real,” Mairanz said of Fraser’s openness in talking about the hardships of his life, including the incident with Berk and the death of his mother. “This connects to the wider Gen Z mentality of authenticity, accountability, and enacting change for the greater good.”
Fraser faced criticism for his appearance in the past, and the Brenaissance wants to rectify that
Another fan of Fraser’s is Courtney Nelson, 31, who is known by her handle @squisheddonuts. She has built a following of 119,000 largely for her characteristic style of Fraser content, where she watches clips from his old movies such as “With Honors” and “Airheads” and is both metaphorically and physically blown away.
In one of her TikToks which has been viewed 7.1 million times, Fraser gets out of the shower. The camera turns to Nelson who gets blasted with a strong gust of wind as Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” plays, causing her bowl of snacks to fly everywhere.
Nelson, like many, forgot about Fraser when he stopped appearing in movies. It wasn’t until she was rewatching “George of the Jungle” in September 2020 with her kids that she remembered how much she had loved him growing up. Her subsequent TikTok about having a new appreciation for George as an adult went viral with 4.9 million views. “Welcome to the Brenaissance,” someone wrote in the comments.
Nelson said she remembered the cruelty of people on the internet consistently making Fraser a meme in the years after he stopped acting, often based on his appearance as he got older. Many made fun of the way he clapped at a joke at the 2019 Golden Globes, and his visible sadness during a 2016 interview.
“People were making fun of him for being this dork,” Nelson said, adding that negativity is not welcome in Fraser’s fanbase. He is a “sweet, lovable guy,” who is simply aging “like a normal person,” she said.
New York Times pop culture reporter Kyle Buchanan, who is known for his profiles of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars including Kirsten Dunst and Dev Patel, told Insider that Fraser “came of age as a leading-man hunk” but once he aged out of that role, “Hollywood wasn’t sure what to do with him.”
The path to character-actor comedy didn’t really work out for Fraser, Buchanan added, but in the Brenaissance era, he is “freed of the shackles of looking a certain way.”
“He can just be funny and weird and himself,” he said. “You feel like you’ve stumbled upon some great new character actor. But maybe that was Brendan Fraser all along.”
Creators consider Fraser ‘inspirational,’ and want him to know the support he has online
Nelson said much of Fraser’s support comes from him speaking about the impact he says the incident with Berk had on him. In a world where it is still quite rare for men to speak out about sexual harassment, Fraser is inspirational, Nelson said.
“Toxic masculinity, I don’t think it’s a thing for Brendan,” she said. “He just resonates so well with men and women alike.”
Key said she hoped Fraser knows the support he has online. In her interview with Fraser, he teared up when she told him about how many people were excited for his new upcoming role in Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon,” responding, “Shucks, ma’am.” The moment went viral, and Key said it’s a memory that she “will treasure for a long time.”
“There are people he may not know, and probably will never know, that are behind him and are ready to support him,” she said. “I really do hope he knows how much love there is for him out there.”