The actor, who delighted audiences with his roles as brawny adventurers in 1990s comedies, won over the Academy Awards as a reclusive, grief-stricken obese professor.

"So this is the multiverse," said Brendan Fraser, incredulous and moved, receiving the golden statue.

Darren Aronofsky's "The Whale" marks the comeback of the 54-year-old star, who put his career on hold in the early 2000s for personal reasons and after accusing a film industry pundit of sexual assault.

Fallen into relative oblivion, the actor appears unrecognizable during this feature film in the body of Charlie, a man weighing more than 250 kilos who can no longer leave his home and barely manages to get up from his sofa.

Adapted from a play by Samuel D. Hunter, the work recounts the reunion of this English teacher and his daughter - played by Sadie Sink, young star of the series "Stranger Things" - with whom he cut ties.

Actor Brendan Fraser at an Oscar nominee event in Beverly Hills, California on February 13, 2023 © Chris Delmas / AFP

Wrapped in massive prosthetics, Brendan Fraser uses his voice and facial expressions to convey his anguish and outbursts of passion and hope.

"Charlie is by far the most heroic character I have ever played," the actor said in September at the Venice Film Festival.

"His superpower is to see the good in others and bring it out."

vertiginous ascent

Born in 1968 in Indiana, of Canadian parents, Brendan Fraser discovered a passion for the dramatic art early on thanks to the theatre.

A graduate of Cornish College in Seattle, he moved to Los Angeles in the early 1990s, which welcomed him with open arms.

Brendan Fraser and actress Hong Chau, his playing partner in "The Whale", January 5, 2023 in California © Michael Tran / AFP

It was not long before he landed his first roles, notably in the TV movie "Presumed Guilty" in 1991 alongside Martin Sheen, or the comedy "California Man" in 1992, where he played a caveman defrosted by teenagers.

Tall, charismatic, Brendan Fraser, with his blue eyes, becomes a familiar figure on the big screen, playing characters exploring unknown worlds.

He made viewers cry in the drama "The Difference" (1992), made them laugh in "George of the jungle" (1997), then tremble with the adventures of Rick O'Connell (1999) in "The Mummy" and its two suites.

He played in more than 40 feature films including "Endiablé" (2000), "A Quiet American" (2002), nominated for the Oscars, and "Collision" (2004), Oscar for Best Picture, until his sudden disappearance. Hollywood posters.

Desert crossing

In 2018, in the wake of the #MeToo movement, the actor accused Philip Berk, former head of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which organizes the Golden Globes, of having sexually assaulted him in 2003.

Brendan Fraser at the SAG Awards ceremony where he won the best actor award, in California, February 26, 2023 © Frederic J. Brown / AFP

The psychological impact of the assault, combined with health issues related to his injuries on film sets -- Fraser often performing his own stunts -- and a high-profile and tumultuous divorce from actress Afton Smith have reason for him.

If he participates in a few television series, he stays away from the cinema for ten years until "The Whale" and its story of redemption put an end to his crossing of the desert.

Brendan Fraser has recently participated in Steven Soderbergh's thriller "No Sudden Move" and Martin Scorsese's "Killers of the Flower Moon", with Leonardo DiCaprio, which is due out soon.

The actor, who also won the Best Actor award from the American Actors Union (SAG) at the end of February, won the Oscars against Austin Butler ("Elvis"), Colin Farrell ("The Banshees of 'Inisherin'), Paul Mescal ("Aftersun") and Bill Nighy ("Live").

© 2023 AFP