The Whale director Darren Aronofsky has hit back at criticism over Brendan Fraser wearing a prosthetic ‘fat suit’ to play an obese man in the critically-acclaimed film.
The film sees Fraser play a 600-pound gay man confined to a wheelchair and hoping to reconnect with his estranged daughter – with The Mummy actor donning the 300 pound ‘fat suit’ filled with airsoft pellets, dried beans, and marbles for his scenes.
After reviews accused the film of lacking ’empathy’ due to the ‘frightful’ physical portrayal of Fraser’s character Charlie, Aronofsky praised the make-up and prosthetics on his team for lending a ‘realism’ to the scenes.
Saying the criticism ‘made no sense’ to him, he told Yahoo Entertainment: ‘Actors have been using make-up since the beginning of acting—that’s one of their tools.
Response: The Whale director Darren Aronofsky has hit back at criticism over Brendan Fraser wearing a prosthetic ‘fat suit’ to play an obese man in the critically-acclaimed film
‘And the lengths we went to portray the realism of the makeup has never been done before. One of my first calls after casting Brendan was to my makeup artist,
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.’
He added that he wanted to change the perception of obese people on screen who are ‘generally written as bad guys or as punch lines’ – to create a ‘fully worked-out character.’
Aronofsky also told The Los Angeles Times’ The Envelope podcast about his work with the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), saying: ‘They really feel this is going to open up people’s eyes. You gotta remember, people in this community, they get judged by doctors when they go to get medical help.
Acclaimed: The film sees Fraser play a 600-pound gay man confined to a wheelchair and hoping to reconnect with his estranged daughter – with The Mummy actor donning a 300 pound ‘fat suit’ (Fraser and Aronofsky pictured November 2022)
‘They get judged everywhere they go on the planet, by most people. This film shows that, like everyone, we are all human and that we are all good and bad and flawed and hopeful and joyful and sorrowful, and there’s all different colors inside of us.’
Fraser recently discussed transforming into a 600 pound man for The Whale in a conversation with Adam Sandler as part of Variety’s Actors on Actors.
The actor, 54, revealed the 300 pound ‘fat suit’ he wore for the movie was filled with airsoft pellets, dried beans, and marbles.
Describing his complex costume, Fraser said careful attention was given to the suit to ensure it obeyed ‘the laws of physics and gravity.’
‘Those were sleeves that came to the shoulder,’ he told Sandler. ‘There was a five-point harness that had me strapped in. Once into it, I was in there all day until it came off. The costume pieces themselves contained combinations of those little airsoft pellets, maybe dried beans, marbles. But the rule was that the whole look should obey the laws of physics and gravity, because we don’t see that in films.’
Portrayal: After the film was accused of lacking ’empathy’ due to the ‘frightful’ physical portrayal of Fraser’s character, Aronofsky praised the make-up and prosthetics on his team for lending a ‘realism’ to the scenes
He then gave a shout-out to the Farrelly brothers, Eddie Murphy, who starred in The Nutty Professor, and Mike Myers, who portrayed Fat B**tard in the Austin Powers films, for their considerate use of the fat suit.
‘And I really looked at what the Farrelly brothers did. I looked at what Mike Myers did, what Eddie Murphy did. That’s just in the last 20 years.
‘Anything before then, it’s a cut-out silhouette of a costume that’s stuffed with batting, and it’s just an athletic actor inside the suit. And it was all in the service of a mean joke.’
Fraser described his determination in portraying the role as authentically as possible.
‘It’s important to say this, because there are those who live with this disease. I felt empowered to be their voice and to be as honest as I could and as authentic as I could in the portrayal.
‘Look, my weight has been all over the map. I put on weight to play this role, and it wasn’t enough — so the body had to go on top of that, and the two worked together.’
Fraser also recalled the consequences of the weight loss he endured for his 1997 film George Of The Jungle, which saw him don little more than a loose cloth on screen.
‘You left Airheads and got very jacked for George of the Jungle. I was disappointed how good you looked in that. You weren’t supposed to do that to us,’ Sandler joked to his former Airheads co-star.
‘The wardrobe was there was no wardrobe. George wears a loincloth,’ he recalled of the costume.
‘You did right by the character. But you did wrong by us, man. You made us feel bad about ourselves,’ The Wedding Singer actor continued.
But Fraser’s diet did not go without consequences, and the actor said he struggled to remember his PIN number due to his weight loss regimen.
‘Starved of carbohydrates. I would drive home after work and stop to get something to eat. I needed some cash one day, and I went to the ATM, and I couldn’t remember my PIN number because my brain was misfiring. Banging on the thing. I didn’t eat that night,’ he said.
The Whale marks Fraser’s first Hollywood project in almost ten years and his first lead role in a movie since straight-to-DVD thriller Breakout in 2013.
The movie had its premiere at the Venice International Film Festival in September, where Fraser got emotional onstage during a standing ovation after the screening.
He subsequently broke down again during another lengthy ovation at the London Film Festival screening last month.
The star has started his awards season race with a bang as he was nominated in the Best Actor – Motion Picture – Drama at the 2023 Golden Globes, due to be held on January 10.
Comeback: The star has started his awards season race with a bang as he was nominated in the Best Actor – Motion Picture – Drama at the 2023 Golden Globes, due to be held on January 10 (pictured November 2022)