Why Brendan Fraser decided to leave and return to Hollywood

28th Annual Critics Choice Awards – Show
28th Annual Critics Choice Awards – Show / Kevin Winter/GettyImages

Brendan Fraser is ready for his close-up.

The 54-year-old, who found major box office success during the '90s and early aughts, came roaring back into the scene with his criticially acclaimed performance in Darren Aronofsky's The Whale. The role, which required him to step into the shoes of a reclusive English teacher struggling to make amends with his daughter, ultimately earned the actor his first Oscar at the Academy Awards.

During his appearance on Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist, the star shared why he took some time away from Hollywood before his current career resurgence.

"I've never been that far away, but I did step out of the spotlight for a spell there to sort some things out in my life and to take stock of who I am, where I'm going, and what my aspirations are," he told host Willy Geist. "I've learned that it's going to do me good to work smart instead of work hard."

Taking a pause also allowed Fraser to get "a lot more comfotable in my own skin."

"For that, I feel so much more receptive and gratitude for the positive attention that I'm receiving at this time," he said of the buzz surrounding his work in The Whale. "It's really humbling."