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George Of The Jungle Messed With Brendan Fraser's Brain In A Big Way

It may be surprising to find out that the worst damage Brendan Fraser endured during the making of "George of the Jungle" didn't come from the many trees he ran into. Based on the Jay Ward-created 1967 animated series of the same name, Disney's "George of the Jungle" follows the misadventures of George (Brendan Fraser), a man raised by gorillas who meets and falls in love with a human woman (Leslie Mann). From there, George is taken to the United States, where his jungle ways comedically clash with modern civilization. Amongst its release in 1997, the wacky comedy became a box office success, earning over $174 million worldwide (via The Numbers). And even despite its mixed critical reception, holding a 56% Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes, the film remains a favorite amongst fans who grew up with it.

And there's plenty to love about "George of the Jungle," from its impressive Jim Henson Creature shop effects and animatronics to its catchy version of the "George of the Jungle" theme song to its witty comedy that playfully satirizes classist values. But through all its colorful sets, fun music, and hilarious narration provided by Keith Scott, it's Brendan Fraser's energetic performance that swings above the rest. The actor, who had previously starred in more grounded films such as "School Ties" and "With Honors," went full-on Looney Tunes for the hyperactive role while still remaining easy to love. Giving such a demanding performance not only challenged Fraser on set but in real life as well. 

George's lush physique came at a cost

There are two kinds of people on this planet. Those who wanted George from "George of the Jungle" and those who wanted to be built like him. To play the titular character in the 1997 comedy, Brendan Fraser had to endure months of physical training (via The Bobby Wygant Archive) to prepare himself for the role, which eventually took its toll on the actor. In an interview with "Airheads" co-star Adam Sandler for Variety, Fraser was upfront about both the process it took to achieve his look and what happened as a result. 

"I was waxed. Starved of carbohydrates," the "Mummy" star explains. "I would drive home after work and stop to get something to eat. I needed some cash one day, and I went to the ATM, and I couldn't remember my PIN number because my brain was misfiring. Banging on the thing. I didn't eat that night." Thankfully, Fraser came out in one piece by the end of production, and his iconic performance in "George of the Jungle" not only remains amongst the most beloved of his career but helped Fraser land more outlandish roles in films such as "Dudley Do-Right," "Monkeybone" and "Looney Tunes: Back in Action." 

Following a series of slumps over the last few years (via GQ), the admired performer is returning to the limelight with high-profile appearances in Darren Aronofsky's upcoming psychological drama "The Whale" and Martin Scorsese's crime drama "Killers of the Flower Moon."