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The TV Show That Launched Brendan Fraser Back Into The Spotlight

In the late '90s and early '00s, Brendan Fraser was as culturally ubiquitous as boy bands and low-rise jeans. Fraser had transformed his early success in films like "School Ties" and "With Honors" into a flourishing big-screen career. Throughout the '90s, the actor had a string of hits including blockbuster hit "The Mummy," the Disney romp "George of the Jungle," the quirky comedy "Bedazzled," and the endearing romcom "Blast From the Past." 

Despite all that success, after a short arc on "Scrubs" in 2002, Fraser began to recede from the spotlight. Folks had seemingly grown tired of "The Mummy" franchise, with the final installment, "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon," failing to impress either critics or audiences (via Rotten Tomatoes). Even Fraser's most devoted followers appeared uninterested in 2010's "Extraordinary Measures," which could have marked an important transition for the actor. The drama pulled in less than $16 million worldwide (via The Numbers), despite the fact that it co-starred Harrison Ford and was based on a compelling true story, per Decider.

Although Fraser's A-list status waned and he had only a number of smaller appearances in movies and TV throughout the '00s and 2010s (via IMDb), his welcomed and well-marketed presence in the 2015 History Channel miniseries "Texas Rising" suggested the actor was a prime example of absence making the heart grow fonder. The gritty period piece chronicles the events directly following Mexico's successful siege of The Alamo in the Texas Revolution, and as CBR.com put it, "Audiences had been starved of Fraser for so long that his reappearance on television brought eyes to the show just by virtue of him being in it." 

Texas Rising marked Fraser's return to the mainstream

In "Texas Rising," the actor plays soft-spoken, level-headed Texas Ranger Billy Anderson, father to Comanche warrior and leader Yellow Knife (John Elvis). Although Billy was created for the miniseries, Fraser's quiet and nuanced portrayal of the character allowed him to shine alongside historical figures like Bill Paxton's Sam Houston, Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Captain Smith, and Olivier Martinez's Antonio López de Santa Anna. Even in an otherwise lackluster review, The New York Times' Neil Genzlinger found Fraser's performance both charming and noteworthy, noting that his subtle provision of comic relief was "as relieving as a cool breeze on a hot Texas afternoon."

The series marked a return to mainstream productions for Fraser, who immediately went on to star in back-to-back (-to-back) dramatic TV series. Following his success on "Texas Rising," the former '90s-'00s heartthrob moved to Showtime, where he starred in creators Hagai Levi and Sarah Treem's "The Affair." The series was a hit with critics and audiences alike, boasting a whopping 86% Tomatometer rating on Rotten Tomatoes. After "The Affair," the actor helped FX's "Trust" achieve critical acclaim. 

In a review of the series, Vulture's Matt Zoller Seitz wrote of the actor's character, "I wouldn't have minded if the entire thing were told to us by Chase [sic] in Fraser's deadpan drawl." Following his portrayal of "Trust"'s charismatic chief of security Fletcher Chace, the now-resurrected talent graced Epix's successful CIA series "Condor," before moving on to the role of race-car-driver-turned-metal-robot Cliff in HBO Max's refreshing take on the superhero genre, "Doom Patrol."

In retrospect, it seems that while "The Mummy" franchise propelled Brendan Fraser to superstardom, it was the History Channel's "Texas Rising" that helped remind audiences, critics, and casting directors why he deserved to be there in the first place.