“Chronologically, I went in to meet for ‘Encino Man’ before I got hired to do ‘School Ties,'” Brendan Fraser told Dana Carvey and David Spade on the “Fly on the Wall” pod. “I understood the character is basically the new guy in town, which was something they hadn’t seen anyone bring into the readings or the auditions before that they really wanted, ’cause he’s a fish-out-of-water, he’s trying to fit in, all that.” Fraser quickly got attached to do “School Ties” and was whisked away to Boston to shoot the intense sports drama. “Encino Man” director Les Mayfield and producer George Zaloom kept trying to court Fraser for the role, but he was worried the broad comedy would be walking a fine line between camp and total absurdity.
Keith Wester, the sound mixer on “School Ties,” made Fraser realize that showing that kind of acting range could help his career and result in even more offers in the future. Wester told Fraser:
“‘You know there’s this that’s a drama and you’ve got comedy, it’s not a bad thing.’ It helped me make my decision because his point was, if you’re new to the industry, your calling card will be ‘I can do something dramatic, I can do […] comedy/tragedy.'”
Transitioning from a period piece in “School Ties” right into the surprise contemporary hit of “Encino Man” changed the entire trajectory of Fraser’s career, for the better. There may not be more of a ’90s time capsule than “Encino Man” and it helped to usher in a new wave of high school movies that combined the spirit of John Hughes with artifacts of a brand new decade.