Brendan Fraser Says He Almost Died Filming "The Mummy" Stunt: "The World Was Sideways."
HE LOST CONSCIOUSNESS IN ONE OF RICK'S FIRST SCENES.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you're aware that actor Brendan Fraser is in the midst of a major comeback. After being absent from the industry some years for both health and personal reasons, the '90s heartthrob is now nominated for an Oscar for his leading performance in The Whale and has several more projects (including Martin Scorsese's next movie) lined up. Since his return to Hollywood, Fraser, 54, has been reflecting on his early career, including some harrowing on-set moments. In a new interview with Kelly Clarkson, the star told a scary story about filming a stunt for the 1999 period monster movie The Mummy, and revealed how he lost consciousness and almost died. Read on to find out what happened and about the surprising response the incident got from one of his colleagues.
READ THIS NEXT: All the Reasons Why People Are Furious About This Year's Oscar Nominations.
Fraser took time off for multiple surgeries.
Fraser, who first broke out in the early '90s, did a number of action and adventure films that required serious stunt work. Around the late 2000s, he retreated from the spotlight, doing mostly low-budget movies and some television. In a 2018 interview with GQ, the star revealed why his career had stalled. He alleges that in 2003, he was sexually assaulted by former Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Philip Berk, which led to a bout with depression. (Berk denies the accusation.) In addition, Fraser had to undergo several surgeries to repair damage caused by his action hero career.
"By the time I did the third Mummy picture in China [in 2008]," the actor said, "I was put together with tape and ice—just, like, really nerdy and fetishy about ice packs. Screw-cap ice packs and downhill-mountain-biking pads, 'cause they're small and light and they can fit under your clothes. I was building an exoskeleton for myself daily."
Per GQ, these surgeries included a partial knee replacement, a laminectomy, and some work on his vocal cords. Fraser estimated that this went on for about seven years.
He had a frightening experiencing filming the first Mummy.
Fraser starred as explorer Rick O'Connell in three movies based on the classic Universal monster: The Mummy (1999), The Mummy Returns (2001), and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008). On Feb. 28, the actor appeared on The Kelly Clarkson Show, where the host asked him about a stunt on the first movie in which Fraser "almost died."
"Well, I was choked out accidentally," the actor answered. He went on to describe one of his first scenes in the film, where Rick is almost hanged before Rachel Weisz's character Evelyn bribes the local police to let him go.
"I was standing on my toes, like this, with the rope," Fraser continued, standing up and demonstrating, "and you know, you've only got so far to go. And Stephen [Sommers, the director] ran over and he said, 'Hey, it doesn't really look like you're choking. Can you sell it?' And I'm like, all right, fine. So I thought, 'One more take, man.'"
For more celebrity news sent right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Fraser lost consciousness.
In "selling" the scene, however, Fraser and the crew went too far. He actually passed out.
"The camera swooped around and I went up on my toes, and the guy holding the rope above me, he pulled it up a little higher, and I was stuck on my toes, I had nowhere to go but down," Fraser continued explaining, as Clarkson looked horrified. "So he was pulling up, and I was going down. Then the next thing I knew, my elbow was in my ear, the world was sideways, and there was gravel in my teeth. And everyone was really quiet."
Afterwards, the actor recalled, the film's stunt coordinator actually congratulated him. "'Congratulations, you're in the club. Same thing happened to Mel Gibson on Braveheart.' Thanks, I think! I wanna go home!" Fraser said.
The director blamed Fraser.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
The incident also came up in 2019, when Entertainment Weekly got the cast and director together for a 20th anniversary reunion interview. When Fraser told the story of the hanging scene, Sommers stepped in to add his memory of it.
"[Brendan] is totally to blame," the director argued. "He tightens the noose, and then, as we're about to get the shot, he's trying to make it look like it's really strangling him. I guess it cut off his carotid artery, or whatever, and knocked him out. He did it to himself."
Fraser came up with a compromise.
"Stephen needed to sell that Rick was actually choking, so, technically yes, it was my fault, that I was following direction from my director to sell it," he said. "You know what? To be fair to that remark, I did make one fatal error. I figured before the camera lands on me, I will take three really deep breaths, so my face turns purple and my veins pop out of my neck. I'll really [expletive] sell it, you know!"
As scary as that day on set surely was, there's one consolation.
"I got to say, what you see in the movie is the take that they did," Fraser told EW, "so they had to cut away, because moments later, I was out of it."