Brendan Fraser Gets Emotional as He Talks About Son with Autism: 'Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way'
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Brendan Fraser
Brendan Fraser is opening up about what it's like being a parent of a child with autism.
Speaking about his experiences raising son Griffin, 20, during a recent sitdown with Howard Stern for his SiriusXM radio show, The Whale actor, 54, talked about making an effort to reach out to fans with autism at public events.
"There's just people who are, for whatever their personal reasons are, really fulfilled or happy to make your acquaintance, if only for a few moments. And I find that really gratifying and affirming, and sometimes there are those who I can clock from across a convention room hall, who I can tell right away, 'He's on the spectrum,' " the actor shared.
"You know that there's somebody who needs a little more love, a little more time because they're autistic or they have Aspergers, and this is their world. This is where they belong," he continues.
"No matter all of the noise surrounding the hysteria that goes into the whole celebrity bulls---, I always, always stop the train to have a moment with them."
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Fraser emotionally continued, "Because my oldest son is autistic, and I know how meaningful it is to their families and to them. It means a lot to feel like you can gratify someone just by showing up, it means a lot."
Stern noted that with many parents of children with autism that he's spoken to over the years, there's a fear for how their child will be cared for after they lose both parents.
"What can we do other than give ourselves a break and muddle our way through it together and do what works and do what works until it doesn't work anymore, and then find something new," Fraser shared.
He went on to detail some of the struggles parents face in advocating for their children with autism. "You will have to fight with school boards. Yes, there will be weird people that you meet along the way that have a completely different agenda compared to what the purpose of sending a kid to a special needs school is."
"You're going to encounter a lot of really colorful people, and how you navigate that comes down to how much you know that everything's going to be okay," Fraser said. "You must believe that in spite of it."
Monica Schipper/WireImage Brendan Fraser
Fraser then recalled how he struggled to wrap his head around his son's diagnosis when they first learned of it.
"When I found out my kid's diagnosis at 22 or 24 months, I was crestfallen, to say the least. The first reaction that I had was, 'I want to know how to fix this. What's the cure? What does this mean?' " he said.
"You're just hit with a baseball bat in the back of the side of the head. Like what? This isn't the way it's supposed to turn out," he continued. "You blame yourself and you think, 'my genealogy or 'I smoked weed in college,' you start blaming yourself over the reasons why."
"It's like trying to get a straight answer out of a f------ leprechaun," he said, explaining how difficult it is to accept that the best answer professionals currently have is that autism occurs "for reasons unknown."
Elisabetta A. Villa/Getty Brendan Fraser
"Then you learn quickly that, I wouldn't have any other way," Fraser noted. "This kid has the most joy onboard of anyone I know, and he happens to be related to me as my son. I want to know what he thinks is so gut-bustingly funny all day long, in a genuine way, he's cracking himself up. He loves to go for a ride in the car. It doesn't matter where you're taking him."
"He would sit on, he would go on a big airplane and ride big commuter flights from here to Philly all day because that's what brings him joy," he explained.
Asked if Griffin's diagnosis contributed to marital issues between him and ex-wife Afton Smith — with whom he also shares sons Leland, 16, and Holden, 18 — Fraser explained, "I paid more attention to my professional life than my personal one. That's just me."
"But with Griffin, all bets are off. Who cares what our problems are with each other? That doesn't matter," he pointed out. "It's under a white flag, and we do anything and everything in support of this boy's needs and his brother's. That's what I was able to commit to in the most meaningful way."