The Whale Director Defends Controversial Decision To Cast Brendan Fraser In Lead Role

"It’s an impossible role to fill with a real person dealing with those issues."
Brendan Fraser in The Whale
Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Filmmaker Darren Aronofsky has responded to the controversy over casting Brendan Fraser as the lead in his new movie The Whale.

In the lead-up to the Oscar-nominated director’s new film, there’s been a lot of conversation around the decision to cast Brendan in the lead role, not just because the character is gay, while the actor is not, but also because he wore a fat suit and prosthetics as part of his performance.

Speaking to Variety about the casting choice, Darren explained: “There was a chapter in the making of this film where we tried to research actors with obesity.

“Outside of not being able to find an actor who could pull off the emotions of the role, it just becomes a crazy chase. Like, if you can’t find a 600-pound actor, is a 300-pound actor or 400-pound actor enough?”

He added: “It’s an impossible role to fill with a real person dealing with those issues.”

Darren Aronofsky
Darren Aronofsky
Jeff Spicer via Getty Images

Brendan also addressed the controversy in a recent interview with Newsweek.

“I’m not a small man,” he insisted. “And I don’t know what the metric is to qualify to play the role. I only know that I had to give as honest a performance as I can.

He continued: “I’m hopeful that we can change some hearts and minds at least in terms of how we think and feel about those who live with obesity.

“So often, those people are dismissed in our society, or the object of scorn and derision, and it’s unfair to them. I believe that shaming people for that reason is almost the last domain of prejudice that we overlook, and I think we can do better to change that.

“So I hope that this film might change some hearts and minds.”

Brendan Fraser
Brendan Fraser
Future Publishing via Getty Images

Fat suits have become a controversial subject in Hollywood in recent years, with Sarah Paulson and Renée Zellweger among the actors who’ve come under fire for using them to portray characters bigger than themselves.

Many body positivity influencers and critics have said these prosthetics have traditionally been used on screen as a device to “mock fat people”, while others also suggested that thinner actors donning fat suits was a way of taking roles away from plus-size performers.

While the American Crime Story star has said she would not wear one in future roles, Renée also addressed the backlash in a recent interview.


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