The Whale’s Brendan Fraser Reveals How He Worked With Obesity Advocates To Play His Character With ‘Dignity’

Brendan Fraser in The Whale.
(Image credit: A24)

While most everybody seems to be in agreement that Brendan Fraser puts forth a compelling performance in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, the film has also been the subject of controversy since it deals with the subject of a man dealing with severe obesity, but does so by putting Fraser in significant prosthetics-- rather than casting a more appropriate actor.

But while Fraser may not have been everybody’s first choice to play this sort of a role, what’s clear is that he did the work that he could do to try and play the role as best he could. This included speaking with obesity advocates, and those that did live their lives in the same way that Charlie from the movie did. The actor tells GMA that the stories inspired him to play the part as well as possible. Fraser explained…

I had many conversations with members of that association who gave me testimonials about their lives. Everything from what their eating habits were, their struggles with food as an addiction, with their hopes for improving their help with bariatric procedure -- or they were awaiting one in a sort of strange limbo that the health care system places them in. It was really moving. It made me just highlight and underline the necessity of telling the story with as much dignity as possible.

In addition to going through a physical transformation for The Whale via prosthetics, Fraser also spoke with the Obesity Action Coalition, who put the actor in touch with many people dealing with obesity so he could understand the struggles they go through in order to properly represent that on the screen. In a statement, the OAC praised the actor for doing a “remarkable job” in playing the character Charlie… 

We shared the significant physical, emotional and social impacts of obesity and we see that insight reflected in many of Charlie's (Brendan Fraser) movements, actions and emotions throughout the film. Mr. Fraser has his own experience with weight bias and stigma, and we found him highly receptive to our feedback. He did a remarkable job of portraying many of the most challenging aspects of living in a large body and of showing several ways people react to being negatively judged for their size.

This is clearly a situation where different people are gong to have different opinions on the situation, and not everybody is going to agree. Having said that, it’s good to know that Brendan Fraser did what he could to represent this community to the best of his abilities. And The Whale will almost certainly make others aware of those struggling with these issues, as it’s expected to compete for many awards in the coming months. Brendan Fraser is already expected to compete for the Oscar next year.  

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.