“The Mummy” Turns 25: A Look Back at Brendan Fraser's Triumphant Hollywood Journey

Years after ‘The Mummy’ made Brendan Fraser a blockbuster star, he also became an Oscar winner

<p> Moviestore/Shutterstock, Daniele Venturelli/Getty </p> (Left-right:) Brendan Fraser in "The Mummy"; in 2023

Moviestore/Shutterstock, Daniele Venturelli/Getty

(Left-right:) Brendan Fraser in "The Mummy"; in 2023

The Mummy made Brendan Fraser one of Hollywood’s biggest stars — but his journey after that film's massive success wasn't an easy one.

The action-comedy, which celebrates its 25th anniversary on May 7, starred Fraser, now 55, as dashing adventurer Rick O'Connell and became a runaway box office success in the summer of 1999. While Fraser had been an established actor, leading movies like 1992's School Ties and 1997's family-friendly hit George of the Jungle, Stephen Sommers’ The Mummy (an update of the 1932 classic film) launched him to superstardom, made his onscreen love interest Rachel Weisz a major star and kicked off several sequels and reboots beyond the haunted sands of Egypt.

And while Fraser appeared in both critical and commercial successes in the years since, he also endured hardships that rendered last year’s Best Actor win for Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale at the 95th Academy Awards especially triumphant.

Related: Rachel Weisz Texted 'Mummy' Costar Brendan Fraser After His Oscar Win: 'I'm So Happy for' Him

“I started in this business 30 years ago and things didn’t come easily to me," Fraser acknowledged on stage, trophy in hand. “But there was a facility that I didn’t appreciate at the time until it stopped. And I just want to say thank you for this acknowledgement.”

<p>Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty</p> Brendan Fraser in "The Mummy"

Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty

Brendan Fraser in "The Mummy"

In 2018, the actor told GQ that he felt he was blacklisted in Hollywood after an alleged sexual assault at the hands of former Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Philip Berk in 2003 — an incident Berk has disputed. (Upon receiving a Golden Globe nod from the HFPA in 2022 for The Whale, he boycotted the ceremony.)

Also in 2018, Fraser opened up about the wear-and-tear incurred from his action-packed movies. "I got a little banged up from years of doing my own stunts and needed a surgical fix on the spine and the hinges," the No Sudden Move star told The Telegraph, shedding light on how on-set injuries further affected his mental health. "Absolutely, there was self-loathing. I think on some level I felt I deserved [a beating] and wanted to be the one who got in the first punch."

Related: Brendan Fraser Says He Destroyed His Body Doing Movie Stunts: 'I Was Probably Trying too Hard'

<p>Steve Granitz/FilmMagic</p> Brendan Fraser at the Critics Choice Awards Jan. 14

Steve Granitz/FilmMagic

Brendan Fraser at the Critics Choice Awards Jan. 14

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Fraser shares three grown sons with Afton Smith, who he married in 1998 and divorced by 2009. The two amicably co-parented Griffin Arthur, Holden Fletcher and Leland Francis, with Fraser living in Bedford, New York and the kids with Smith, 56, nearby in Connecticut.

In 2016, during a buzzy arc on the TV drama The Affair, Fraser gave PEOPLE a glimpse of family life. “Having a bonfire in the backyard,” he said, was a longtime guilty pleasure. “When the kids aren’t looking, I sneak leftover Fourth of July fireworks into the embers. For them, it’s a combination of protestation and being delightfully gleeful at the same time.”

The actor began publicly dating makeup artist Jeanne Moore in 2022, bringing her as his date to many of the premiere and awards events around The Whale. Winning the 2023 Screen Actors Guild Award, he thanked his source of support: "Without the love of the clarion call that is my girl Jeanne, I wouldn't be able to do any of this.”

Related: A Timeline of Brendan Fraser's Career and Comeback

It was as The Whale began earning Fraser the warmest reception of his career that he told GQ that he was “in a really good place” in his life following years of struggle. "I feel like I'm still waiting for someone to walk in and tell me that the jig is up,” he told Seth Meyers in 2023. "I know I'm doing what I love… I'm really happy to be able to do that.”

<p>Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic</p> (Left-right:) Holden Fletcher Fraser, Leland Francis Fraser, Brendan Fraser and Jeanne Moore at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in 2023


(Left-right:) Holden Fletcher Fraser, Leland Francis Fraser, Brendan Fraser and Jeanne Moore at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in 2023

Also amid his resurgence — the “Brennaissance,” it has been dubbed — Fraser appeared in the leather jacket and boots reminiscent of Rick O'Connell at a London screening of The Mummy in January 2023. Saying he was “proud” to have made the unexpected hit in Britain, he added, "We had no idea what kind of movie we were making when we shot this... We didn't know if it was a drama or a comedy or a straight-ahead action, romance, horror picture... all the above?"

Related: Brendan Fraser Says He's 'Really Being Picky' with Future Roles After His Oscar Win

While he’s acknowledged he’d be “open to” reprising his role in the action-packed franchise, nothing Mummy-related is on Fraser’s list of upcoming projects. (He last brought Rick O’Connell to the screen in 2008’s The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, costarring fellow 2023 Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh.)

Following his buzzy appearance in Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, Fraser will star opposite Josh Brolin, Glenn Close and Peter Dinklage in Max Barbakow's comedy Brothers. Another completed project, DC Studios’ Batgirl starring Leslie Grace, in which Fraser played villain Firefly, has since been pulled from Warner Bros.’ schedule.

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