Skip to main content

Brendan Fraser Explains Why Darren Aronofsky's The Whale Was Perfect For His Reintroduction Into Hollywood

Brendan Fraser in The Whale
(Image credit: A24)

Brendan Fraser could have quietly returned back to the big screen in a small role that only people of the ‘90s and 2000s would have recognized him. But instead, he decided to really show audiences he is back and that his years of obscurity have not taken away his incredible talent. This 53-year-old actor explains why his role in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale was the perfect way to reintroduce himself to Hollywood. 

A movie still can really say a thousand words or have a number of fans already predicting an Oscar for you. Vanity Fair reported that after Black Swan’s Darren Aronofsky saw Samuel D. Hunter’s play The Whale for the first time, he was so moved by what he saw that he had to adapt this play. After Hunter wrote the screenplay, the challenge would be finding an actor to play the lead role of Charlie, a 600-pound man with aspirations to make a comeback into his daughter’s life. Even if this role was outside of himself, Fraser has said he understood the feeling of wanting to make a comeback.

He said he wanted an actor to reintroduce. And I wanted to be reintroduced.

Brendan Fraser was considered to be a major star in the ‘90s and early 2000s of Hollywood with his best movies being The Mummy franchise, George of the Jungle, Airheads, School Ties, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and more. While he’s been in edgier films like in Bill Condon’s Gods and Monsters, The Whale would be a role that Fraser could sink his teeth into that's very different from him with physical and emotional demands. The American-Canadian actor knew this would be a fantastic opportunity to test his craft and “disappear” into the role.

If there’s no risk, then why bother? I want to learn from the people I’m working with at this point in my career. I’ve had such variety, a lot of high highs and low lows, so what I’m keen for, in the second half of my time doing this, is to feel like I’m contributing to the craft and I’m learning from it. This is a prime opportunity. I wanted to disappear into it. My hope was that I would become unrecognizable. I wanted to know what I was capable of.

Playing the role of Charlie, a reclusive online English teacher living with life-threatening obesity, was not something that the Doom Patrol actor was going to ease into. He spent months deep in research with the help of the Obesity Action Coalition to learn everything he could about obesity. He also spoke to people who have gone through bariatric surgeries and watched mediums of different genres to see how obesity has been portrayed in the past. Having to wear a prosthetic suit that helped him carry on 50 to 300 extra pounds helped Fraser delve into Charlie’s skin and show that carrying so much weight can limit your mobility.  

Ever since the moment Brendan Fraser decided to make a Hollywood comeback, the Brenaissance training has been rolling at a great speed for him. While the personal tragedies like grieving the death of his mother and the sexual assault allegations against an HFPA member held him back, great things have come to the Screen Actors Guild Award winner. He joined Martin Scorsese’s latest film Killers of the Flower Moon starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro as well as a role in the upcoming Ethan Cohen-directed comedy Brothers with Josh Brolin. With talks of an Encino Man sequel, this returning actor may even revisit another classic part of his.

The Whale hasn’t even hit the big screen yet and already Brendan Fraser has won a major award for it as the recipient of the Toronto International Film Festival's TIFF Tribute Award. It’s only a matter of time before Fraser will have to make space on his shelf for that Oscar trophy. We have yet to see the full-body transformation that this dedicated actor has gone through with A24 only releasing a facial shot of Fraser’s character Charlie. However, just that one picture alone shows that we have a lot to look forward to as we all board the Brenaissance train once The Whale hits theaters.

Brendan Fraser’s new role in The Whale will be a great way for audiences of previous generations and today to be reintroduced to this stellar actor all over again. The anticipation for this upcoming movie will be big but well-deserved as it comes to theaters on December 9th with its world premiere coming at the 79th Venice International Film Festival on September 4.

Carly Levy
Entertainment Writer

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.