Cameron Bailey, CEO of TIFF, is announced today that Brendan Fraser will receive the TIFF Tribute Award for Performance for his performance in The Whale, which will have its North American premiere at the 47th Toronto International Film Festival. The festival runs from September 8-18.
“Brendan Fraser gives a performance of staggering depth, power, and nuance in The Whale,” said Bailey. “This former Torontonian has been an action star, a screen comic, and a romantic lead. We’re thrilled to welcome him home as the actor behind one of the finest performances of the year.”
With a career spanning more than 30 years, the Indianapolis-born Fraser (who has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Canada) began his acting career with a small part in 1991’s Dogfight (as “Sailor No. 1”) but broke as a leading man just a year in Encino Man, where he played a frozen pre-historic caveman who is thawed out in the present day. He soon found box office success in the live-action adaptation of the George of the Jungle cartoon in 1997 and then co-starring alongside Ian McKellen in the Oscar-winning Gods and Monsters in 1998. But it was 1999’s The Mummy that put Fraser on the map and made him a household name, playing Rick O’Connell in the blockbuster hit and its follow-up sequels. After venturing into some television and stage acting, Fraser found maintaining the success of the late 1990s harder to come by, even after starring in the Best Picture-winning Crash (2005). After an on-set injury and the impact of doing many of his own stunts over the years created a lull in his career that, combined with his 2018 reveal of a sexual assault in 2003 at the hands of Philip Berk, the then-president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (who put on the Golden Globes), Fraser entered into a deep depression. He began to mount a comeback in 2018 with a voice spot on the DC Comics television series Titans, which turned into his starring role in HBO Max’s Doom Patrol.
Fraser will make his return to Toronto with Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, which tells the story of a reclusive English teacher living with severe obesity who attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption. The A24 film is based on the acclaimed play by Samuel D. Hunter, who also penned the screenplay, and stars Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, Ty Simpkins, and Academy Award nominee Samantha Morton. It is being distributed in Canada by Elevation Pictures.
The TIFF Tribute Awards are presented by BVLGARI will return to an in-person gala fundraiser during the 47th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday, September 11 at Fairmont Royal York Hotel. The TIFF Tribute Award for Performance is presented by IMDbPro.
The TIFF Tribute Award for Performance presented by IMDbPro to Fraser is one of two acting awards being handed out. These two awards recognize an outstanding performance by either an individual or ensemble in the now gender-neutral acting category. Fraser joins the recently announced recipients of the TIFF Tribute Award for Performance presented by Polestar, the ensemble of My Policeman. They join previously announced TIFF Tribute Award honoree Sam Mendes, the Academy Award-winning director of 1917, Road to Perdition and American Beauty. Past recipients honoured in the acting category have been Jessica Chastain and Benedict Cumberbatch in 2021; Kate Winslet and Sir Anthony Hopkins in 2020; and Meryl Streep and Joaquin Phoenix in 2019. Chastain, Hopkins and Phoenix went on to win lead acting Oscars in their respective years.
Photo: Chad Griffith/A24 Films