Yesterday, we talked about Ke Huy Quan’s comeback this year, so now let’s talk about the other comeback in the room, Brendan Fraser. He appeared on Variety’s “Actors on Actors” with Adam Sandler, an old pal from the 1990s, when they made the comedy classic Airheads together. (Airheads is great, argue with a wall.) It’s clear how much affection remains between the two three decades later, and they spend the first third of their conversation just reminiscing about making Airheads. Frankly, I could listen to those stories all day. Not that it’s not interesting to hear Fraser and Sandler break down how they approached their roles in The Whale and Hustle, respectively, but like…The Whale doesn’t deserve Fraser’s effort, and even though he’s palpably sincere and compassionate, there is still a lot of ingrained fatphobia in the conversations around this movie. I think it’s unavoidable at this point.
(Sidebar: my dream of Daniel Radcliffe and Austin Butler doing one of these is dead, as Butler is doing his with Janelle Monae. I know DanRad isn’t even Oscars-eligible, that Weird will compete for Emmys instead, but I still think Variety should have done it just for sheer entertainment value.)
This interview format thrives when the people involved are either unafraid to geek out over each other—like Viola Davis and Jennifer Lawrence—or have some basis of friendship from which to approach the conversation. I don’t know how close Sandler and Fraser are on a day-to-day basis, but you can tell they enjoyed working together, and remained at least friendly enough to cheer each other on as their careers developed throughout the 2000s. The best part of this interview is not the actual talk about acting—it never is—but is the sincerity that comes through when they talk about seeing each other’s work over the years.
Right now, Sandler is a dark horse nominee for Best Actor. Fraser is still the frontrunner, though Colin Farrell is in a close second, and Austin Butler hasn’t given up yet. This interview is a reminder, though, that Fraser has been around for a while, longer than his closest competition. And he’s made every kind of movie from arty dramas to studio blockbusters and comedies. And everyone likes him, and while Adam Sandler keeps his head down, he is super well connected throughout the industry. Hustle doesn’t have the traction to boost Sandler’s chances, but Sandler can certainly boost Fraser’s. Not that Fraser particularly needs the help, but it is a reminder that, ultimately, the Oscars are a popularity contest, and Brendan Fraser is a very popular guy.