Having just won for best lead actor at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday night, Oscar hopeful Brendan Fraser may be living his best life right now.
But the 54-year-old star of “The Whale” almost didn’t survive filming his 1999 hit “The Mummy.” In fact, on Tuesday’s episode of “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” Fraser revealed that he “nearly” died shooting a hanging scene in the action adventure film.
“I was choked out accidentally,” said Fraser, who then stood up to demonstrate the perilous stunt. “I was standing on my toes like this, with the rope [around my neck] … And Steve [Sommers, the director] ran over and he said, ‘Hey it doesn’t really look like you’re choking. Can you sell it?’ And I was like, ‘All right, fine.’ So I thought, ‘One more take, man.’ ”
That’s when things really tiptoed into the danger zone for Fraser. “The camera swooped around, and I went up on the 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,” he explained. “And so he was pulling up, and I was going down.”
That’s when Fraser passed out from choking. “My elbow was in my ear, the world was sideways, there was gravel in my teeth, and everyone was really quiet,” he said.
The stunt coordinator who aroused Fraser from his mummy state had some words of praise for the actor: “ ‘Congratulations, you’re in the club — the same thing happened to Mel Gibson on ‘Braveheart.’ ” But Fraser wasn’t exactly stoked about joining that particular club, responding: “Thanks, I think?! I wanna go home!”
Lately, Fraser has been busy taking trophies home. His performance as a man struggling with morbid obesity in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale” won him the Critics Choice Award for Best Actor in January, and he followed that up with his SAG victory on Sunday.
“I treasure this, but never more than when I treasured what I used to keep in my wallet, which was my SAG card that I earned in 1991. It made me feel like I belonged,” he said during his acceptance speech. “As actors, we all want to belong to a tribe and that’s when I found where I belong. And if you told that guy back then that I’d be standing right here right now, I would not have believed you.”
Fraser — whose comeback role in “The Whale” also finds him up for Best Actor at the Oscars on March 12 — also offered some words of encouragement for others who have endured career setbacks.
“I just want you to know … all the actors out there who have gone through that or are going through that — I know how you feel,” he said. “Believe me, if you just stay in there and you put one foot in front of the other, you’ll get to where you need to go.”