Brendan Fraser was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on December 3rd, 1968, to Peter and Carol Fraser and is a dual Canadian-American citizen. His father is a retired Canadian Tourism Commission official and his mother is a sales counselor. As a child, Fraser and his three older brothers, Kevin, Sean, and Regan, moved about every two or three years due to their father's job, living in cities around Canada, the United States, and Europe. Some stops included Amsterdam, London, Ottawa, Cincinnati, and Detroit. He mentioned to Cindy Pearlman in Seventeen, " In London, I was 12 or 13, and I would go off on my own and see plays. The stage just fascinated me. I couldn't get enough. "
When he was 14, Fraser and his family were in Seattle, Washington, and he began working with the Laughing Horse Summer Theater in Ellensburg, Washington, appearing in repertory classics such as Waiting for Godot and A Midsummer Night's Dream. After that, he attended high school at Upper Canada College Preparatory School in Toronto, where he was an average student in all but his theater courses, then moved back to Seattle to study drama at the Cornish College of the Arts, where he received his bachelor's degree in fine arts. Soon, he was landing parts with the local Intiman Theater and planned to pursue a master of fine arts at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
However, before he made it to graduate school, Fraser and landed a one-line role in a Hollywood film. That movie never hit the theaters, but he managed to make a good impression and continued to go on auditions. Unlike most would-be actors, Fraser never waited tables or parked cars; he went straight to the screen. He soon snagged a role playing " Sailor No.1 " in the Vietnam-era drama Dogfight, 1991, with River Phoenix and Lili Taylor, which was filmed in Seattle. Through this project, he met a casting agent who sent him to read for another role and introduced him to more contacts. Fraser and then made two television movies that year and soon won a major role of Link in Encino Man, 1992, about a pair of high schoolers who thaw out a caveman (Fraser) on and introduce him to the wonders of the modern era. Even though Encino Man was roundly panned, it established Fraser's place as a new Hollywood hunk, and he soon mailed a note to Southern Methodist University letting them know he would not be enrolling.
After Encino Man, Fraser really turned heads as the lead in the 1992 picture School Ties, one of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's early movies. He actually filmed this picture before Encino Man, but it came out later in the year. In it, he played David Green, a Jewish boy who conceals his ethnicity and fellow students at a prep school in the 1950's. Next he reprised the character of Link in the Pauley Shore duds, Son In Law, 1993, and In the Army Now, 1994. He continued to run the gamut of roles, playing another preppie part in With Honors, 1994. In that project, his character is a Harvard student who befriends a homeless man. That same year, he also played one of the three rocker dudes who try to commandeered a radio station Airheads.
Although Fraser's roles in Encino Man and Airheads led to many offers that he described as " Hey dude, let's party!' stuff, " he was outstanding in a more challenging role in the The Scout, co-starring Albert Brooks, as an eccentric baseball player and his mentor. For this film, at the age of 25, he commanded a reported 1.5 million salary. Unlike his character, however, Frazer had little aptitude for baseball in real life, as fans soon discovered: " I was asked to pitch the opening pitch of a Mariners game, "he told Rebecca Escher-Walsh in Entertainment Weekly, " and it was miserable. I pitch the worst slider you've ever seen. " Off the field and back on camera, Fraser was impressive once again in The Passion of Darkly Noon, playing an orphan who tries to balance his religious beliefs with his lust for a woman (Ashley Judd). This allowed him to display his range even further. His next project, Mrs. Winterbourne, in which Fraser played a set of twins, fare poorly with critics and audiences, but he was singled out for praise. A reviewer for the New Republic noted that in the film, Fraser " suggests Robert Montgomery, the debonair charmer and skillful light comedian of the 30's and 40's. Montgomery later tried his hand at darker roles, as Fraser May, too, but in the lighter ones month, could always rely on our chuckling along with him, and Fraser has much the same gift."
Fraser's next big project was anything but a dark, however, as he tackled the dim yet lovable title character in
George of the Jungle, based on the animated cartoon from the 1960's. " I've always been a fan of Tarzan films, " Fraser remarked in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. " I've seen what I think must be the original pact was made in 1918. It was Tarzan the Ape Man, starring Elmo Lincoln, who was rather potbellied but still one of my favorites." Unlike Lincoln, Fraser buffed up for the part which required wearing a loincloth through out. He had to go on a diet and spent six months working out. " I guess George's jungle had a StairMaster in it, " he mentioned to Chuck Arnold in People. Though this built Fraser's image as a sex symbol, the film was geared toward kids.
Continuing to avoid typecasting, Fraser also played a gay opera director in a 1997 cable movie, the acclaimed
The Twilight of the Golds, and was also cast as the romantic lead in Still Breathing, for which he earned a Best Actor or award at the 1997 Seattle International Film Festival. In 1998, he showed up in the highly lauded Gods and Monsters, opposite respected British Shakespearean actor Ian McKellen. The movie is a fictionalized account of the last days of real-life Hollywood director James Whale, the creative force behind 1931's classic horror film Frankenstein, as well as Bride of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man. McKellen as Whale be friends Fraser as Clay Boone, a course-mannered lawn care contractor whose sensitive side is revealed. The film draws obvious parallels between the misunderstood Frankenstein monster and Fraser's character. Both McKellen and Fraser were roundly applauded for their work, as was Lynn Redgrave, who played Whale's dowdy housekeeper.
After the critical hit of Gods and Monsters, in early 1999 Fraser appeared in Blast from the Past, in which he emerges in the 1990's after dwelling in a bomb shelter with his odd parents since 1962. Many reviewers drew parallels between this role and his early Encino Man, which also cast him as a newcomer to the modern age. For his " gee-whiz " attitude, Fraser modeled his performance on the style of Dick Van Dyke with his clean-cut, old-fashioned sensibility but his unselfconscious ability for physical comedy as well. Later that year, he had a smash hit with The Mummy, as part of a team of archaeologists that unearth a malevolent ancient Egyptian body.
Although many critics were not appreciative of The Mummy, others dubbed Fraser as the next Harrison Ford due to his swashbuckling leading man antics, and audiences made it one of the year's blockbusters. For this project, Fraser endured 130-degree heat while filming in Morocco, but as he mentioned to Jim Slotek in the Toronto Sun, he was ready for " a straight-ahead action picture " and "relished the adventure of it all, being in the Sahara Desert." He was also excited about the film because, as he told Liz Smith in Newsday, it is " true to the original [Boris] Karloff version. It's 'monster' movie, yes, but also it is a love story. The Mummy drew $44.6 million in its first weekend, the most ever for a non-summer opener, thus lifting Fraser's profile in the industry. Subsequently, his salary was boosted to an estimated $10 million per film. Also in 1999, Fraser landed in another real-life cartoon role as the lead in Dudley Do-Right an appropriate part, considering that his great-great-grandfather was a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman in the late 19th century.
Fraser is a stocky 6 ft., 3 in. tall with dark brown hair. Most interviewers note his unassuming, polite manner, almost to the point of shyness. He met fellow actor Afton Smith at Winona Ryder's Fourth of July barbecue in 1993, and they married on September 27th, 1998, after a romantic yet bungled proposal on the river Seine in Paris. Too shy to ask her outright, he popped the question in a creative way: He secretly pinned a note that read, " Will you marry me, Afton? " inside his jacket and then set a Polaroid camera on the edge of the bridge with a timer to capture a picture of the two of them as he flashed open his coat. Once the image developed, though, the sign was too small to read. Afton asked if it was a price tag, and opened Fraser's coat to check at which time she saw the sign. " I was at such a clumsy clodhopper I dropped something, " he related to Jan Stuart in Newsday. " I figured [since] I was already on bended knee I might as well say in the words and come out with the ring. She wept. I wept." Fraser and his wife have a contemporary home in Los Angeles, and he remains an avid snapshot taker with his collection of vintage Polaroids.