A muscular, darkly handsome actor who defies easy categorization, Brendan Fraser has an enviable versatility that has allowed him to be equally convincing in comedies, dramas, and adventure films alike. The son of a Canadian tourism executive, Fraser was born in Indianapolis on December 3, 1968. Thanks to his father's job, Fraser and his family led a fairly peripatetic existence, living in locales as varied as Ottawa, London, Rome, and Seattle. During his time in London, Fraser became interested in theater and eventually enrolled in Seattle's Cornish Institute for training.
After an early appearance in Dogfight (1991), Fraser got his break in 1992's Encino Man as a Stone-Age man unfrozen in modern-day California. He went on to gain audience prominence in diverse roles such as a Jewish football player in an all-WASP environment in School Ties (1992), a grunged-out musician in Airheads (1994), a Harvard student who loses his thesis in With Honors (1994), and a quirky baseball phenom in The Scout (1994). Fraser has been quoted in one magazine article as saying that he seeks out roles combining "silliness and sexiness"; his work during the second half of the '90s certainly reflected this. Particular highlights were George of the Jungle (1997), a witty satire of jungle adventure films; Gods and Monsters (1998), the acclaimed rendering of the last days of director James Whale, for which Fraser earned particular praise in his role as Whale's strapping gardener; the romantic comedy Blast From the Past (1999); and a big-budget remake of The Mummy (1999) that effectively showcased Fraser as a hero well-suited to old-school adventure. So successful were the extravagantly computer generated exploits of the revived Mummy franchise that a sequel soon went into production, resulting in the decidedly Indiana Jones-flavored The Mummy Returns (2001). Pitting Fraser against not only the fearsome Imhotep but the dreaded Scorpion King (wrestling superstar The Rock) as well, The Mummy Returns upped the ante in terms of action and special effects, providing audiences with even more summertime chills and thrills than its predecessor. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for 2001's ill-received Monkeybone which, despite an energetic performance from Fraser, did not fare in the theaters as well as 20th Century Fox had hoped.