You really can't blame the guy: when asked about his career, Brendan Fraser ducks the question like “Encino Man” diving into the nearest cave. “The science of chaos rules [my] decisions,” the 41-year-old actor remarked, when the question surfaced during a recent Philadelphia round table. Showing a knack for low comedy as early as “Encino,” Fraser returned to the genre while expanding in old fashioned-style dramas, like “School Ties,” “Mrs. Winterbourne,” and “With Honors.” His ease blending the serious (“Gods and Monsters” and “The Quiet American”) and comic left the TLA Video Guide, in a review of the forgotten by delightful “Blast from the Past,” calling him the new Cary Grant in the making.
But, as we now know, the comical won out. Ever since starring in “The Mummy,” his ease with physical gags lead to a career in cartoonish roles, many of which are successful fantastic children's journeys, even if the actor would rather not go there (for long) in interviews. In his latest role in the new film, “Extraordinary Measures,” he drops the comical for the stern when playing real life hero, John Crowley, in a competent take on the old fashioned issues film. “This is something that I had never seen before,” Fraser said, referring to the project. “I don’t know when again I’ll have an opportunity to portray a living, breathing person, who is easily one of the most principled people that I have ever known.”
Crowley himself, also present at the round table, holds a strong, if smaller frame than Fraser's. While Fraser was soft spoken, if eager, Crowley spoke in direct statements, which reflect years of negotiating deals to save his two children, sick with Pompe Disease (which creates sugars in joints and around organs to eventually render both useless). Crowley is genial, yet unwavering, until he discusses his children, when he can barely hold back tears.
Fraser brings much energy on screen, acting opposite Harrison Ford, who plays Dr. Robert Stonehill, a composite of many doctors whom Crowley hired to turn research into medicine. Ford brings more energy than he has in years, releasing barks as his Dr. Stonehill refuses to bend for others, be it Crowley or moneymen on some board. During the interview, Fraser showed his fandom for Ford, while not skimping on some challenges of playing opposite him.
Yet, this Ford fan didn't hang onto him for long in conversation. Forget me, Fraser as much as said out loud, how about Crowley? The actor couldn't stop talking about the man who's achieved more than almost anyone in show business. Thankfully, the film reflects this best, and its principal player shows it throughout.