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Brendan Fraser recalls — and demonstrates — how he nearly died filming ‘The Mummy’

Not all the daring risks in the 1999 action-adventure flick were the stuff of movie magic.
/ Source: TODAY

Brendan Fraser’s career renaissance continues to thrill fans. But according to the award-winning star of “The Whale,” his movie-making days almost came to an abrupt and permanent end decades ago.

As the actor explained during a recent visit to Kelly Clarkson’s eponymous talk show, when working on the first film in “The Mummy” franchise back in 1999, one scene suddenly went terribly wrong.

"I was choked out accidentally," the 54-year-old said.

The scene in question was supposed to show his character, Rick O'Connell, nearly get choked to death after a harrowing fall from the gallows. But Fraser's fate while filming it wasn't supposed to mirror it that closely.

"There's a hanging sequence," he said as he rose from his seat to demonstrate what happened. "I was standing on my toes like this with the rope (around my neck), and you only got so far to go."

Despite Fraser's best attempt to portray the chilling action, writer-director Stephen Sommers wanted to see more struggle from the star.

"Steve ran over, and he said, ‘Hey, it doesn’t really look like you’re choking. Can you sell it?’" Fraser recalled. "'All right, fine,’ I thought. ‘One more take, man.’ The camera swooped around, and I went up on the toes. The guy holding the rope above me, he pulled it up a little higher. I was stuck on my toes. I had nowhere to go but down. So he was pulling up, and I was going down."

And before he knew it, everything around him was growing dim.

"The next thing I knew my elbow was in my ear, the world was sideways, there was gravel in my teeth and everyone was really quiet," he said of the frightening moment. "There was a stunt guy, a coordinator was there, and he was going, 'Brendan! (clap-clap) Brendan, wake up!'"

After a stunned Fraser fully came to, he heard that same person offer him encouragement rather than sympathy.

"Ha-ha! Congratulations, you’re in the club," the man told him. "Same thing happened to Mel Gibson on ‘Braveheart.’”

In 2014, Gibson told The Independent he narrowly made it out of that 1995 historical drama alive.

“There was a horse that nearly killed me,” the actor noted. “He had a good trick where he did this whole rear-up thing, but he’d also fall backwards, which is a problem if you’ve fallen off first and you’re behind him. He did that to me.”