The Whale Director Claims Controversy Around New Film 'Makes No Sense' To Him

Darren Aronofsky has hit back at critics of his new film, which stars Brendan Fraser in the lead role.

Director Darren Aronofsky has spoken out amid controversy around his new film The Whale.

The Oscar-nominated filmmaker’s latest project stars Brendan Fraser in the lead role of an obese man who is struggling to reconnect with his daughter amid problems with his health.

Already, the film has been met with a mixed response, and while Brendan’s performance has largely been praised – even receiving a Golden Globe nomination earlier this week – the decision to cast him in the lead role was met with a backlash, as he portrayed the character using prosthetics, a “fat suit” and CGI technology.

Responding to this criticism, Darren recently told Yahoo! Entertainment: “Actors have been using makeup since the beginning of acting – that’s one of their tools.

“And the lengths we went to portray the realism of the make-up has never been done before.”

Darren Aronofsky
Darren Aronofsky
LISA O'CONNOR via Getty Images

“One of my first calls after casting Brendan was to my makeup artist, Adrien Morot,” Darren continued.

“I asked him, ‘Can we do something that’s realistic?’ Because if it’s going to look like a joke, then we shouldn’t do it.”

Insisting Brendan’s character is depicted sensitively within the film, Darren stated: “People with obesity are generally written as bad guys or as punchlines.

“We wanted to create a fully worked-out character who has bad parts about him and good parts about him; Charlie is very selfish, but he’s also full of love and is seeking forgiveness. So [the backlash] makes no sense to me.”

Brendan Fraser at a screening of The Whale last month
Brendan Fraser at a screening of The Whale last month
Taylor Hill via Getty Images

“Brendan Fraser is the right actor to play this role,” he added. “And the film is an exercise in empathy.”

Defending the casting choice in an interview earlier this year, 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?”

Brendan Fraser as seen in his new film The Whale
Brendan Fraser as seen in his new film The Whale

Brendan also addressed the controversy about his casting, pointing out: “I’m not a small man. 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.

“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.”

The Whale is slated to hit UK cinemas in February 2023.


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