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Brendan Fraser wins Best Actor Oscar in career comeback


Brendan Fraser won the Best Actor Oscar for ‘The Whale,’ a transformative role in which he reignited a once-brilliant career.

“I started in this business 30 years ago and things weren’t easy for me,” said an emotional Fraser, breathing heavily on stage on Sunday night. “I just want to say thank you for this recognition.”

Fraser was one of five first-time nominees in the category, the first time since 1935. Fraser beat Austin Butler of “Elvis”, Colin Farrell of “The Banshees of Inisherin”, Paul Mescal of “Aftersun” and Bill Nighty from “Living”.

Fraser stars as Charlie, a reclusive 600-pound gay English teacher trying to mend his relationship with his teenage daughter, found him at the perfect time.

Earlier in his career and Fraser said he wouldn’t have had the life experience or the heartache to authentically play a character who lives with sadness, pain and life-threatening obesity.

“I think it’s a movie that’s going to change hearts and minds, and it feels really good,” he said backstage.

Fraser’s portrayal earned him standing ovations at film festivals in Venice and Toronto, and early acclaim continued to build throughout the fall and winter. Along with receiving the best reviews of his career, he won a SAG Award for his performance. Along the way, he gave emotional acceptance speeches, not afraid to cry at times.

His eyes were rimmed with red as he held his Oscar in one hand, clearly moved by the reaction from his Hollywood peers.

“It’s been incredibly rewarding and empowering,” he said backstage, “and it’s humbled and grateful to me.”

It’s a career comeback, which Hollywood has always loved.

The 54-year-old Canadian-American actor broke out in the early 1990s with comedy “Encino Man” and drama “School Ties.” He was the face of movie posters for the “George of the Jungle” and “The Mummy” trilogy, where he worked with fellow Oscar nominee Michelle Yeoh. He made dramatic turns in “Gods and Monsters,” “The Quiet American,” and the 2006 Best Picture winner “Crash.”

He’s also had his share of projects that bombed.

Then Fraser practically disappeared.

He was absent from the big screen for several years, dealing with a series of personal problems involving divorce, the death of his mother, health problems and an alleged assault by the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. As a result, he boycotted that year’s Golden Globes.

He regained career momentum with a series of cable TV shows before appearing in director Steven Soderbergh’s film “No Sudden Move” two years ago.

Now he has one of the biggest prizes in cinema.

“Hopefully I’ll live up to that,” he said.

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