Oscar’s revival may seem dramatic, but in the 2023 Oscar nominee announcements, two actors are stepping back into the limelight, and it’s been a literal standing-ovation welcome home. Brendan Fraser is nominated for “actor in a leading role,” for his portrayal of Charlie in “The Whale,” and Ke Huy Quan was nominated for “actor in a supporting role.” for his portrayal of Waymond Wang in “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” Let’s walk back down this movie trail to see how this all came to be.
This heart-throbbing man led most of the roles in your favorite blockbuster hits. Not counting minor roles prior, Brendan got his first major role in 1992, starring in Encino man, a comedy about 2 high-schoolers played by Pauly Shore and Sean Astin who find a frozen caveman (Bredan’s character) in their backyard and decided to thaw him out and introduce him to the modern world. It sounds ridiculous, but the 90s were a fun and simple time.
School Ties is a drama about a young Jewish student named David Green (Brendan Fraser) who is offered a scholarship to an elite prep school. However, as he becomes more successful, the pressure to hide his Jewish heritage grows, leading to a conflict between his own values and the expectations of the people around him.
George Of The Jungle is a comedy about a man raised in the jungle by apes who falls in love with a wealthy heiress. Yes, it’s giving a little Tarzan but way more satire. The apes speak English, the elephant behaves like a dog, George can not stop swinging into trees, and they take him back to the big city, where chaos ensues. I don’t know how this movie would hit now, but it was lighthearted and fun for the time.
The Mummy put Brendan in front of more viewers. An action film about our boy Imhotep (the mummy) awakening and wreaking havoc on everyone, all while trying to raise his beloved mistress from the dead. It’s Rick O’Connell and his unlikely crew’s job to stop The Mummy’s plan. Brendan brought charisma, fun, stunts, and a tan, to the iconic role of Rick. The movie was so well received it went on to make 2 sequels. The Mummy Returns in 2001 and The Mummy: Tomb of The Dragon Emperor in 2008
Brendan would continue making more movies, starring in TV shows, and lending his voice to many projects. But the attention never seemed quite the same as before for this leading man, almost like he disappeared.
So, What Happened?
The life of an actor can come with its own set of challenges. Brendan was starring in a lot of movies almost simultaneously. Some movies flopped, and This 6’2” man was doing his stunts and going from set to set. Sounds trying, right? In a past GQ interview, Brendan says
“By the time I did the third Mummy picture in China,” which was 2008, “I was put together with tape and ice—I was building an exoskeleton for myself daily.”
It was also reported in that article that all that caught up to him, and eventually, he need multiple surgeries. Let’s break it down, he needed a laminectomy (didn’t know what that was, had to look it up) only for the lumbar not to take, so he had surgery again a year later. A partial knee replacement. More back work, including bolting various compressed spinal pads together (ouch). Vocal cords repaired (lawd). Imagine being in and out of hospitals for almost seven years!
And I’m not done. Let me also mention a divorce in 2009, his mother passing from cancer in 2016, and to keep the serious going, in 2018, Brendan Fraser opened up about being sexually assaulted by former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), Philip Berk.
So to say it was a rough decade is a true understatement. He could’ve thrown in the towel and walked away from the acting industry forever. Would you blame him? I wouldn’t.
It’s 2022, Director Darren Aronofsky and Writer Samuel D. Hunter created a film called The Whale, a psychological drama about a reclusive, obese English teacher trying to reunite with his daughter before it’s too late. Starring none other than Branden Fraser as Chalie, the father. People have been truly touched by this film and what Brendan has done with the portrayal of Charlie. The juggernaut of praise that has busted through all outlets has gained Brendan some much-deserved attention, from standing ovations, interviews, and award wins. Speaking of awards, we have come full circle because, as I mentioned before, Brendan Fraser can now say he’s an Oscar Nominee. His very first one!
“I’m absolutely overjoyed and deeply grateful to The Academy for this recognition and for recognizing Hong Chau’s beautiful performance and Adrien Morot’s incredible make-up. I wouldn’t have this nomination without Darren Aronofsky, Samuel D Hunter, A24, and the extraordinary cast and crew who gave me the gift of Charlie. A gift I certainly didn’t see coming, but it’s one that has profoundly changed my life. Thank you.”
This is wonderful to see his comeback story unfold in such a way. Brendan Fraser has been acting since the 1990’s, over 20 years, and he’s now receiving his first Oscar nom. Here’s hoping he wins.
Ke Huy Quan
Some may think, Ke Huy Quan is a new actor, but that’s far from the truth. He was a child actor who rose to fame by starring in major blockbuster films. At just 12 years old, Ke Huy Quan quickly became a household name with his charming and talented performances that captivated the youth.
In 1984 he landed the role of Short Round in Indiana and the Temple of Doom. An action-adventure film where Idiain Jones teams up with an unlikely pairing of nightclub singer Wilhelmina “Willie” Scott and a 12-year-old boy named Short Round as they discover the great mysterious terror surrounding a booby-trapped temple and try to rescue the lost children of the village.
This is a blessing. His very first movie was Indian Jones alongside Harrison Ford, and he held his own, he delivered some major catchphrases popular among indie fans. His part in the movie is unforgettable. Therefore, he’s giving major nostalgia vibes.
I don’t know how he did it, but he went from one major blockbuster to the next. In 1985 there was a star-studded cast of kids in a little film called The Goonies—another action-adventure family film about a group of kids who set out to discover One-Eyed Willy’s treasure. Ke plays Data, a nerdy misfit with the cool gear (at least cool for 80’s standards). Yet has another iconic role under his belt.
Both of these films are popular enough to keep him relevant even now. After the Goonies seeing him on the big screen was sparing. Fun fact he was in Encino Man, with Brendan Fraser, but it was a small role. Though he was acting on and off from 1987- 2002, it wasn’t things we, the public, were aware of.
So, What Happened?
We hear it all the time, but the industry is not easy to be a part of. Not even for someone who has starred in two major films. To take it a step further, the industry is not easy for people of color. Though Ke Huy Quan loves acting, he didn’t want to be typecast, and you know how Hollywood is that will limit the scripts coming your way. He turned his passion into doubt and eventually changed career paths and enrolled in the film program at the University of Southern California.
Could you imagine giving up on your passion? It takes strength to walk away, even if it’s not your first choice.
Along came these 2 directors that call themselves The Daniels since, ironically enough, they’re both named Daniel. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert created this beautiful film called Everything Everywhere All At Once. A mix of action, adventure, fantasy, and comedy, this film is about Evelyn Wang struggling to cope with everything, including tattered relationships with her judgmental father, Gong Gong, and her daughter, Joy, when an inexplicable multiverse rift becomes an eye-opening exploration of parallel realities. I know it sounds like a lot, but it’s an entertaining movie with an overall message that brings it home.
This amazing, wondrous film can get a little weird, but if you look beyond that and into the message this film wants you to take from it, you’ll be blown away. That is why this film has so much recognition, to the point where Ke is also nominated for his first Oscar!
“When I heard my name announced, I jumped and I screamed so loud. It was very similar to the day when I got that call from my agent and they told me that I get to play the role of Waymond. I just cannot believe it. For so many years, I’ve always loved watching the Oscars. Every year, I would imagine what it’s like to walk down the red carpet, to be in that room, to get nominated. It’s a dream that only existed in my imagination for the longest time. When I had to step away, that dream dissipated. It was so far away that I didn’t think one day it would make its way back. And it did. And it happened today. I never thought that my name would have the prefix ‘Oscar-nominated actor.’ What an incredible day this is.”
It’s wonderful to see him have such an epic comeback, especially since he stepped away from acting. Both of these men faced different challenges that seemed to be career-ending, but look what happened when people decided to bet on them and bless them with opportunities. They are walking in their purpose, and I hope these Oscar noms burst open more doors for them.
Make sure to watch the Oscars and cheer these guys on. Here’s the full list of Oscar nominees.