Former 90s leading man Brendan Fraser won the Critics Choice Best Actor Award, delivering an emotional acceptance speech about overcoming both personal and professional tribulations.
Fraser believes he was blacklisted from Hollywood after speaking out in 2018 about being sexually assaulted by the former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Philip Berk, the president accused by Fraser, has always denied the allegations.
In winning 2023’s Best Actor Award, Fraser beat out other industry heavyweights Tom Cruise, Colin Farrel, and Bill Nighy. He was nominated for his leading role in The Whale, a film for which Fraser put on significant weight to portray an obese English teacher trying to reconcile a relationship with his teenage daughter.
He began his speech thanking the association, then moved into a joke about Moby Dick author Herman Melville. “It was Herman Melville who once wrote that there are only five critics in America — the rest are asleep. I don’t know what it means, either, but I’m sure glad you woke up for me. Where were you for Furry Vengeance?!”, he said in self-deprecating style.
“And Darren Aronofsky, I was in the wilderness — and I probably should’ve left a trail of breadcrumbs — but you found me, and like all the best directors, you merely just showed me where to go to get me where I needed to be,” Fraser then said.
He concluded, through tears, “If you — like Charlie, who I played in this movie — in any way, struggle with obesity, or you just feel like you’re in a dark sea, I want you to know that if you, too, can have the strength to just get to your feet and go to the light, good things will happen.”
Fraser’s self-reflection and positive messaging was a welcome reprieve from the political grandstanding that has become all too common when Hollywood celebrities take the podium.
Speaking afterwards to People magazine, Fraser continued by noting that his award-winning performance has been “eye-opening” about the way his portrayed struggle on screen has resonated with audiences.
“It’s been gratifying, it’s been eye-opening,” he said. “It has made me have a sense of accomplishment by way of seeing how this story is changing people’s hearts and minds.”
Fraser added, “That’s gratifying, to say at least, and that kind of opportunity does not come along in this circus show of show business that we all play along with sometimes.”
“But when it does, and it’s material that’s handled with care and the project comports itself in a way that’s interesting and important, I feel very fortunate and lucky to be a part of it,” he finished.
The Critics Choice Award is one of several award ceremonies featured in early parts of the new year. It joins the Golden Globes, Academy Awards, and host of other recognitions that the film industry uses to promote and celebrate films.
“This recognition comes from a diverse group of more than 600 critics and entertainment reporters who share their opinions about film and television with millions of people every day, all year long,” CCA executive Joey Berlin said in a recent statement.
“Our collective opinion about the year’s finest achievements is truly meaningful to the creative community,” he added.
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