Brendan Fraser Says Upper Canada College Was Like 'Lord of the Flies'

"Who's in charge? Where are the grown-ups?"

Photo: Neil Grabowsky

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Oct 27, 2023

The foremost Brenaissance man, Brendan Fraser, is having another huge year. With Killers of the Flower Moon drawing $44 million USD at the box office opening weekend (despite some claiming that it dehumanizes Indigenous people), it's quite the impressive follow-up to last year's Oscar win for his performance in The Whale.

Despite having yet another career peak, Fraser hasn't forgotten his roots: in a new interview with Toronto Life, he reflected on how attending private school at Upper Canada College (UCC) in the city reminded him of Lord of the Flies.

"I ended up in Toronto because I went to boarding school at Upper Canada College," Fraser explained to journalist Courtney Shea, having been born in Indiana to Canadian parents and proceeding to spend his youth in few different cities, including Washington, Ottawa and, eventually, Toronto in the 1980s: "My stomping grounds were Yonge and St. Clair. I spent a lot of time at the Eaton Centre as a teenager."

The actor went on to describe his time at the institution as a "seminal period." He said, "It was a little bit Lord of the Flies at the time: a society of your peers. Who's in charge? Where are the grown-ups? Are we self regulated? Have the keys been handed to the inmates?" Ah yes, the end of innocence.

Shea also debunked the myth that Fraser had been the first UCC student ever not required to take math. "Not true," he clarified. "I wasn't proficient at math, but I finished the requirements. It's a defining moment for any student to learn that you're not going to be able to think in a regimented way. My brain is wired to think more circuitously."

Fraser added that he began honing his Academy Award-winning chops in "many" school plays. "I was in West Side Story. I played Bernardo, who is a Puerto Rican character," the actor said. "I don't think that casting would go over these days."

Neither did his casting in The Whale, which controversially required Fraser to wear a fatsuit and several thick pieces to transform into his character — a 600-pound shut-in professor longing to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Sadie Sink). "We're not going to please everyone," he said during a roundtable interview at TIFF 2022.

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