Hollywood loves to produce movies about success stories. A housewife inventing the mop and becoming a millionaire, a guy singing in a garage and becoming a star. Sometimes, however, it is the actors who achieve amazing turnarounds in their personal lives.
In 2022, Brendan Fraser returned to film with a bang. He had been a star in the late 1990s and early 2000s, becoming famous with The Mummy series. Yet, box office failures, health problems, a divorce, and a sexual assault incident he suffered sent him into a spiral of depression that kept him away from the big screen. In addition, social media users started comparing his most recent looks to his heyday, highlighting his weight gain. Only recently, an internet flash mob came out in support of his struggle.
In September, Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, starring Fraser, premiered at the Venice Film Festival. The audience gave it a six-minute standing ovation and journalists caught Fraser in tears of joy. Now he is tipped to be nominated for an Oscar, and is poised to attract more attention in the industry, with projects including Martin Scorsese's new film, Killers of the Flower Moon.
In one of the strangest movies from last year, Everything Everywhere All at Once, Ke Huy Quan plays the role of the main character’s husband. In 1984, at 13, he had played in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and later in The Goonies. In 1985 he was nominated for the Saturn Awards as best young actor, but only got his prize 37 years later, by winning the award as best supporting actor. He then went on to win the Golden Globe as well.
In his award acceptance speech, Quan, now 51, thanked director Steven Spielberg who was sitting in the audience, saying “he gave me a chance”. Quan was mostly involved in stunts for years, but it was recently announced that he will join the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Jennifer Coolidge had become famous in 1999 for starring in the blockbuster American Pie. After years of small roles on TV shows, Coolidge had her breakthrough in 2021 thanks to the White Lotus series, which earned her a Golden Globe. In an interview, she said that her previous decade had been riddled with failed auditions.
“I had such big dreams as a young person, but what happens is they get sort of fizzled by life. Mike White, you gave me a new beginning,” Coolidge said from the stage, pointing to her White Lotus director. Now 61, the actress seems to know the hardship of life and the opportunities the future holds. While only a few manage to climb to the mountaintop, it is even more difficult for those who have fallen to be able to return. After all, you are only as good as your last film at the box office.
Stories such as Fraser, Quan, and Coolidge’s are rare, but all the more remarkable. The viewer loves to watch success stories on the screen, but perhaps even more in real life. These stories give hope that you can overcome depression, get your dream job, stand on stage with an award in your hands, even if many years have passed since your last rodeo.
Hollywood and its stars are shining and fading far away from our everyday life, but such stories make them real and relatable. In epic sagas, the heroes never give up and ultimately receive a reward. In real life, we tend to despair and lose hope. With these inspiring examples, we realize that the deserved success can come even after many long years of failure.