Dwayne Johnson and Brendan Fraser Never Actually Met While Filming ‘The Mummy Returns’

When it comes to action movies, actors often get up close and personal with one another in order to make the thrilling scenes come to life. So it might surprise some fans to learn that The Mummy Returns stars Brendan Fraser and Dwayne Johnson never met during filming.

‘The Mummy Returns’ was Dwayne Johnson’s movie debut

Prior to filming The Mummy Returns, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s entertainment career involved wrestling. He wanted to expand his range and start acting in mainstream films. But his big break almost didn’t happen. 

The Mummy (1999) scored big at the box office winner. But writer-director Stephen Sommers initially didn’t want to make a sequel. Eventually, it got the green light. And Johnson landed the role of the Scorpion King. His prowess as an action star wowed the studio so much that they immediately started working on a standalone spinoff film focused on Johnson’s character, providing a clear path forward for the pro-wrestler to make his name in the movie industry. 

While Johnson’s films have run the gamut from blockbusters to flops, he’s generally well-liked and certainly established himself as a mainstream star. 

Brendan Fraser and Dwayne Johnson didn’t meet on set

(L-R) Brendan Fraser and Dwayne Johnson at the premiere of 'The Mummy Returns' in 2001.
(L-R) Brendan Fraser and Dwayne Johnson at the premiere of ‘The Mummy Returns’ in 2001. | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The Mummy Returns picks up where The Mummy left off. Brendan Fraser’s Rick O’Connell — now married to Evelyn and with an 8-year-old son — is still working in archaeological exploration. This work brings his family across the Bracelet of Anubis, an artifact that is a key to the Scorpion King’s army. The O’Connells aren’t the only ones interested in the powerful bracelet. Imhotep returns and will stop at nothing to gain control of the piece and the army that comes with it. 

While The Mummy Returns was not as well-received as its predecessor, the film still did fairly well. And many point to Johnson’s star power as The Rock for the success. He portrayed the Scorpion King in an early flashback scene. Later, his likeness was used for a CGI rendering of the Scorpion King as a monster.

Fraser, who fought the monster, actually never got to meet Johnson on set. “Let’s put it this way,” he told Entertainment Weekly at the time. “I was in a room with a 28-foot dreadlocks-flapping bug-man, so, yes, in that sense we met.”

Dwayne Johnson’s scenes were shot in one day

The Scorpion King (played by Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson) relishes battle in 'The Mummy Returns.'
The Scorpion King (played by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) relishes battle in ‘The Mummy Returns.’ | ILM/Universal Studios

While Johnson was excited to get the part on The Mummy Returns and it ultimately helped launch his mainstream stardom, the actual work on the film didn’t go so well for the star. In fact, he was sick during shooting.

As Entertainment Weekly reports, Stephen Sommers recalls having a limited time with Johnson: “I had one day with him, because, on Saturday morning, he had to fly from the Sahara desert to Detroit for a big wrestling deal. He arrives on the set Friday morning and Dwayne had really bad food poisoning and heatstroke. It was probably 110, 112 degrees, and everybody’s in shorts and tank tops, and he would be covered in blankets, just shivering.”

Johnson, always a professional, powered through. Sommers remembers, “We just went all day. That guy gutted it out, because he was just a mess.” 

In the final version of the film, Johnson’s head is edited onto the body of the Scorpion King. While fans made fun of the somewhat ridiculous CGI results, it’s hard to lay the blame on Johnson. He worked hard to bring the character to life and even had to learn a few lines in Ancient Egyptian. 

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