The Whale’s Brendan Fraser Defends Use Of Prosthesis And Body Suit In The Movie, Despite Some Backlash

Darren Aronofsky’s new film The Whale has been receiving no end of praise, especially for its lead performance. Brendan Fraser is already considered to be on the shortlist for an Oscar nomination, but the rile has also been the source of controversy. Critics and some other actors have critical of the decision to put Fraser in a fat suit, but the actor says that the suit was “accurate.”

Some have argued that the role of Charlie, an obese gay man who is house bound, should have gone to an actor of appropriate size, rather than put Fraser in a body suit to make him appear that big. Speaking at The Whale’s premiere in New York City (via People) Fraser said he would transform himself in a similar way again if a role called for it as he felt the body suit was the right way to do justice to the character. The actor explained…

I think it's one of the more exacting ways you can create a character and body. And in this case the mandate that Charlie's costume would respect the laws of gravity and physics as opposed to the many ways that we've seen that character depicted in films before as really a one-note joke, and in a costume that's just unfair. That's a personal view. But we felt an obligation to ensure that it was cumbersome. It was accurate, that was what we strived for.

For Brenden Fraser the issue is clearly one of doing his best to properly represent the character of Charlie. He certainly didn’t want the character to become a caricature, and so for him the prosthetics were a way to create Charlie properly and not make a joke out of him.

Many critics would seem to agree that Fraser did exactly this, and did it amazingly well. That’s where the praise for the actor’s performance in The Whale is coming from. The issue is that others don’t believe the issue is the way the prosthetics were used, it’s that they were used at all. Mean Girls actor Daniel Franzese has spoken publicly about his frustration that plus-sized actors, largely overlooked for other roles already, weren’t given a shot at a role like this. Darren Aaronofsky has said that he did include them in his casting search, but was unable to find anybody who could pull off the emotional and physical needs of the role properly.

The Whale has been pulling off a remarkable balancing act as nearly everybody has praised Fraser’s performance, including many of those that have been critical of the way the role was handled. There likely isn’t an answer here that will please everyone. The only question now is how it may impact the awards prospects of the film. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.