For a generation of moviegoers, Brendan Fraser is an ideal leading man, one of the most charming presences to be found on the big screen throughout the 90s. His wholehearted performances in the likes of "School Ties" and "Gods and Monsters" (the latter of which had Ian McKellen comparing Fraser to Marilyn Monroe) would oscillate with more comedic roles in "Encino Man," and "George of the Jungle," and by the time "The Mummy" released in 1997, Fraser had proven himself as an earnest leading man.
Following a period of radio silence from Fraser amid a slew of tragedies, the American-Canadian actor has returned to perform in assorted television roles, and most recently, Darren Aronofsky's latest feature "The Whale." The renewed interest in Fraser's career – a "Brenaissance" of sorts – has fans looking back on Fraser's filmography, and actor-comedian Adam Sandler counts himself among them in Variety's Actors on Actors video series.
The duo starred in Michael Lehmann's 1994 comedy "Airheads," as two-thirds of a rock band holding a radio station hostage with the aim of getting their demo tape played on the air and sparking a career in rock and roll. Starring Sandler, Fraser, Steve Buscemi and a stacked cast of comedy notables like the late Chris Farley, it's the movie that inspired the exquisite insult, "You look like half a butt puppet," and it also codified the deity status of Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister. Sandler recalls the film as "the best shoot of my life," and credits Fraser (pronounced "Fray-zer" like "razor") for taking the role of Chazz Darby seriously regardless of the story's comedy.
It's here that Sandler gleefully takes credit for discovering Fraser — or more specifically, stealing Fraser from Pauly Shore after seeing the latter's caveman turn in "Encino Man."
'This Guy Shouldn't Just Be A Caveman, He Should Be In A Rock Band.'
Dubbed "the patron saint of 'f*** off' cinema by /Film's BJ Colangelo, "Encino Man" sees Fraser grunting and juice-wheezing his way into the hearts of movie-watchers as a caveman discovered in the backyard of two teens, played by Sean Astin and Pauly Shore. As "Link," Fraser doesn't seem hampered by the character's lack of discernible dialogue; instead, a natural magnetism bursts from his curious raised eyebrows and aw-shucks grin. It was enough to earn Fraser a Most Promising Actor award from the Chicago Film Critics Association that year, and enough to get then-"SNL" star Sandler in his corner.
The way Sandler tells it, neither Shore nor "Airheads" director Lehmann wanted Fraser for the rock n' roll picture. Lehmann couldn't see anything in Fraser's work that would translate to "Airheads," and Shore held out hope for a sequel riding on the box-office success of "Encino Man." Sandler elaborated to Fraser:
"Michael Lehmann was very against you. He was like, 'I don't get it, I don't see the caveman being in this movie' and I just said, 'He can do other s***, man.' I eventually went to his house at four in the morning, woke him up. He said 'Who are you?!' and I said, 'Never mind that, just know that old Adam Sandler ain't gonna be in 'Airheads' unless old Fraser is in it,' so he changed his little tune."
The tune changed, indeed. Fraser revealed that his meeting with Lehmann was cordial, and the director seemed to actively want him for the role. Fraser would be cast in the lead opposite Sandler's drummer Pip, armed with hot sauce-loaded squirt guns, and the rest is rock 'n roll history.
Read this next: Adam Sandler's 14 Best Roles Ranked
The post Adam Sandler Fought to Cast Brendan Fraser in the 1994 Comedy Airheads appeared first on /Film.