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Brendan Fraser struggled with 'self-loathing' early in his career and says it made him feel as if he 'deserved' the pain and injuries he got from doing his own movie stunts

INSIDER 1/31/2023 (JP Mangalindan)
Brendan Fraser in 2022. Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP © Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP Brendan Fraser in 2022. Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP
  • Brendan Fraser's early stuntwork on films like "The Mummy" took a serious toll on his body.
  • The actor recently admitted he suffered extreme pain and injuries that required multiple surgeries. 
  • Fraser's recent work in "The Whale" scored him an Oscar nomination for best actor. 

Brendan Fraser says high-flying stuntwork in films like "George of the Jungle" and "The Mummy" took a serious toll on his body, but the actor tolerated the pain and injuries because he felt like he "deserved" it. 

In a recent interview with The Telegraph, Fraser, who received an Oscar nomination for best actor in a leading role earlier this month for "The Whale," revealed that performing his own stunts earlier in his film career resulted in surgeries that included a laminectomy, a procedure that relieves pressure on the spine and nerves by removing bone spurs and tissues.

"I got a little banged up from years of doing my own stunts and needed a surgical fix on the spine and the hinges," said Fraser, who added that he knew he would recover, "but it took a long time."

Fraser's injuries didn't stop there. He eventually had a partial knee replacement and even had his vocal cords repaired at one point. The actor spent nearly seven years in and out of hospitals, he previously told GQ in 2018.

Just to make it through scenes of 2008's "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor," Fraser covered his body with muscle tape and ice packs, creating the equivalent of a "Transformer-like exoskeleton." 

When asked why he put himself through pain and suffering when a stuntman could have easily taken his place at key moments, Fraser said he suffered from a feeling of "self-loathing." 

"Absolutely, there was self-loathing," Fraser explained. "I think on some level I felt I deserved [a beating] and wanted to be the one who got in the first punch."

Fraser, who is now 56, acknowledged he doesn't have the same muscular physique he once did in films like 1997's "George of the Jungle," but the actor has accepted that. Better still, he's doing some of the best work of his 31-year-long career, including his Oscar-nominated portrayal of Charlie, an obese English teacher, in Darren Aronofsky's "The Whale." For that remarkable performance, Fraser also received the Critics' Choice movie award for best actor. 

"I've made peace with who I am now," he said. "And I'm glad that the work I can do is based in an emotional reality that's not my own life but is one that I can strongly identify with."

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