Actor Brendan Fraser just won his first Academy Award (Best Actor in a Leading Role, “The Whale”) — but according to visual effects artist Dave Rand, the “Encino Man” star was a “righteous dude” long before he picked up that little gold statuette.
Rand told the story in a lengthy tweet, explaining that Fraser had been the one to step up when a studio bankruptcy resulted in his entire visual effects team getting stiffed for three weeks of work on a major film — to the tune of $1.3 million.
#BrendanFraser is a righteous dude.
In November 2007 our paychecks stopped. I was the FX lead on #JourneyToTheCenterOfTheEarth for Meteor Studios in Montreal and was asked to convince my crew to stay and finish the picture with a guarantee we'd all get paid with overtime. We had… https://t.co/DmQUIEAkMQ pic.twitter.com/1jegFlWECd
— Dave Rand (@daverandla) March 13, 2023
“#BrendanFraser is a righteous dude,” Rand began. “In November 2007 our paychecks stopped. I was the FX lead on #JourneyToTheCenterOfTheEarth for Meteor Studios in Montreal and was asked to convince my crew to stay and finish the picture with a guarantee we’d all get paid with overtime.”
“We had a handful of shots left. As soon as we delivered the last shot, we were escorted out. It was two weeks before Christmas and we’d soon learn there was no money. Meteor was declaring bankruptcy. They owed us 1.3 million dollars,” Rand continued — and he said that he immediately contacted the press.
Variety talked to a number of Rand’s crew but ultimately passed on the story, explaining in an email to Rand, “The paper has decided that another visual effects company going bankrupt, however sad, is really not news worthy at this time.”
Rand shopped the story to a number of other outlets in Hollywood, getting similar results every time — and he began to believe that it was coordinated. “My guess was the studio had put pressure on them to bury it,” he said.
So he put out a press release himself, which he said only sparked a threatening email and call from Variety and a warning from the labor department, telling him that going to the press could ruin any case they had.
He said that he tried to reach Fraser — the star and producer of the movie — through his people, but failed to make contact.
But then he got a call from entertainment gossip site Page Six, and he jumped at the chance to get the story a broader reach. The story went live on August 1, 2008.
“My phone rang as I was reading the piece, a 212 area code,” Rand continued, saying that he assumed it was the Page Six reporter who had published the piece. “I answered to thank the girl, but a man answered and he said, ‘Is this Dave Rand?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ ‘This is Brendan Fraser, what the f*** is going on?’ He had no idea that artists were not paid on his movie. He listened intently, asked a lot of questions and promised he would call me regularly until this was solved.”
Two days later, Page Six posted an update with a statement from Fraser’s representative, who said, “Brendan just heard about this for the first time. He’s on it. He thinks what happened is awful, and he’s extremely upset.”
“We finally got 80% of our money almost 2 years later,” Rand concluded. “To quote the great Steve Hulett: ‘What runs the world isn’t what’s right, or who’s the richest, it’s leverage, and who has it.’ We’d had none, but Mr. Fraser gave us wings. He’s a righteous dude.”