Brendan Fraser wants to change ‘hearts and minds’ with new film The Whale

The George Of The Jungle star walked the red carpet at the UK premiere of his new film The Whale at the BFI London Film Festival.
The George Of The Jungle star walked the red carpet at the UK premiere of his new film The Whale at the BFI London Film Festival.

US actor Brendan Fraser hopes to challenge pre-conceived notions about obesity with his new film The Whale.

The psychological drama stars Fraser, 53, as morbidly obese English teacher Charlie trying to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter, played by Stranger Things’ Sadie Sink.

At the film’s UK premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, Fraser told the PA news agency it was the “most challenging role” he has ever played.

“I think that Charlie is a real hero and I think he has a superpower too,” he said.

“He’s the man who can see the good in others, they can’t see that in themselves. Tragically, he can’t see it in himself, it takes his daughter to show him.”

George Of The Jungle star Fraser said it was “wonderful” to work with 20-year-old actress Sink.

“She’s the genuine article. I was there front row every day to see how good she is,” he said.

The Whale has been adapted by Samuel D. Hunter from his own stage play, directed by Darren Aronofsky.

Britain LFF The Whale Red Carpet
Director Darren Aronofsky, Brendan Fraser and screenwriter Samuel D. Hunter (Vianney Le Caer/AP/PA)

The Mummy actor Fraser said: “I wanted to work with Darren Aronofsky, I can’t think of an actor who wouldn’t on a story as emotional and fulfilling as this one. Absolutely interesting.

“I hope that we can change some hearts and minds.

“I hope that viewers bring whatever opinions or pre-conceived notions they have about those who live with obesity to the film and they are challenged by its content.”

Fraser said he had to undergo four hours of make-up sittings before filming.

He said: “I rehearsed a solid three weeks before we began. I made sure that I felt present and focused every day with the help of everybody in the crew during this challenging time that we’ve lived under when we shot this film.”

Aronofsky, who directed Black Swan with Natalie Portman in 2010, said he was “surprised every day” with Fraser’s performance.

“He is a complete professional, always prepared and just brings always a spirit of myself and it’s just very easy to work with, a delight, no drama,” he told PA.

Aronofsky added: “It took me 10 years to finally do it, the first time I saw the play was 10 years ago and it’s always the projects that I’m able to revisit and that still engage me that end up at the finish line.

“So there’s something in there that was just very truthful and honest, that made me work on it.

“During Covid we all lost so much connection with each other and this is kind of a big wish and dream to get that connection back.”

Screenwriter Hunter told PA: “I started writing this play when I was teaching writing, desperately trying to connect to my students and finding at times like Charlie does in the film, begging them to write something honest, because I just felt like most of what I was getting was summaries of Wikipedia.

“They would write what they think they should say, and not what they actually mean.

“So I started the idea of writing about a writing teacher and I had a few false starts, and it wasn’t really until I put some more personal stuff in my mind.

“I’m a gay kid from Idaho who lives in the same town that Charlie lives in and for a while my life was self-medicating with food and got to be quite big.

“Not everybody who’s big is depressed. People are big for all sorts of different reasons.

“I just hadn’t ever really seen that story precisely told, so it was really important to get past my anxieties and tell the story in an honest way.”

The Whale will be released on December 9.