The world in the midst of a “Brenaissance,” and Brendan Fraser is being welcomed back with open arms. The actor’s newest project, The Whale, has seen him garner praise and awards for his performance, which is being hailed as his comeback despite mixed reviews overall. But despite that, fans and audiences never lost their love and enthusiasm for Fraser, and in particular for his role in Universal‘s action-adventure franchise The Mummy. Could a new take on this beloved role be in the cards for Fraser? According to comments made to Variety, the actor is certainly open to it.
Fraser starred as soldier-turned-adventurer (and heartthrob) Rick O’Connell in The Mummy (1999), The Mummy Returns (2001), and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008). While the first two films proved successful, and saw a resurgence of love from fans when they recently celebrated their respective 20th anniversaries, the third film was far less well-received, and ended up being the lowest-grossing of the three. Though he admits he doesn’t know how a fourth film would be done, Fraser said “But I’d be open to it if someone came up with the right conceit.”
A hypothetical fourth film would not be the first time the franchise saw a reboot since the 1999 release — soft or otherwise. Ahead of the release of Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Fraser‘s co-star Rachel Weisz, who for two films played adventurous librarian Evelyn Carnahan-O’Connell, departed the franchise both for family reasons and citing problems with the script. Problems that were clearly not unfounded, given how the film was received overall. Her role was instead taken over by Maria Bello, who put a very different spin on the character, making her much more of a conventional Strong Female Lead in contrast to Weisz‘s well-meaning, awkward-yet-tough take on the role.
The second, more significant time the franchise was rebooted was in 2017, with a brand-new film, also titled The Mummy and starring Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe. The film was intended to kick off the “Dark Universe” franchise, a series of films each centered around Universal‘s legendary roster of monsters. The reboot, however, did so poorly at the box office that it scrapped all plans for the MCU-style interconnected storytelling world.
That the 2017 film took a more horror approach, as opposed to the pulpy adventure style that Fraser‘s films employed so well, might have something to do with the reception to the film. Said Fraser in his comments to Variety:
“It is hard to make that movie. The ingredient that we had going for our Mummy, which I didn’t see in that film, was fun. That was what was lacking in that incarnation. It was too much of a straight-ahead horror movie. ‘The Mummy’ should be a thrill ride, but not terrifying and scary.”
And a thrill ride they were, mixing horror and just the right touch of gore with action, comedy, lush landscapes, enough ancient history to keep enthusiasts and the newly-curious invested, and of course the sweeping, snarky romance between Rick and Evelyn. Should the series return for a fourth film, it would be these elements, not to mention the original cast including Fraser, Weisz, John Hannah, and Oded Fehr. Though it’s hard to imagine what Arnold Vosloo‘s Imotep could possibly be upset about this time, it’s also hard to imagine the franchise returning without his particular brand of deeply felt love and emotion mixed with a determination to do whatever he feels is necessary, damn the consequences.
A return to a series and a role that made him more beloved than he already was could also be a fitting reintroduction to Hollywood for the actor, who spent many years away from the spotlight after being sexually assaulted by then-president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Philip Berk. Though Fraser said in an interview that he’s uncertain if reporting his assault led him to being blacklisted, many of us have unfortunately born witness to exactly what happens to performers who try to hold the powerful to account in cases like this.
Fraser went on to add “I know how difficult it is to pull it off. I tried to do it three times.” It could be argued that he didn’t try so much as he succeeded, given that even people who cannot stand horror films, such as myself, have come to love these movies very dearly.
Fraser‘s three Mummy films are available to stream on Netflix.