Brendan Fraser’s Weight Gain And Transformation

Brendan Fraser in The Whale. (A24)

There’s nothing like a stunning body transformation from a movie role to get Tinseltown talking and the nominations rolling, and Brendan Fraser’s returning role in The Whale has accomplished both.

Directed by Darren Aronofsky, The Whale follows the story of Charlie, a lonely and chronically obese online English teacher, who is desperately trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter, as he teeters to his death.

Charlie ended up as a 600 pound recluse through catastrophic binges to cope with the guilt and grief of leaving his family and also with the death of his lover.

Read more: Brendan Fraser says ‘uncomfortable’ fatsuit helped on The Whale

Despite his dire prognosis, Charlie seeks redemption by trying to establish a relationship with his 17-year-old daughter Ellie, played by Stranger Things star Sadie Sink.

Watch a trailer for The Whale

Adapted from playwright Samuel D. Hunter’s award-winning Broadway play, The Whale has garnered both acclaim and criticism, along with a splashy buzz of awards heading into Oscar season.

The challenging film marks Fraser’s first Oscar nomination in the Best Actor category, with two other nominations including the Supporting Actress category for Hong Chau (who plays Charlie’s friend Liz), and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. .

One of the biggest talking points surrounding the film is, of course, the dramatic transformation of Fraser’s body.

For Charlie’s physical portrayal, a combination of heavy prosthetics, CGI, and makeup was used on Fraser, rendering The Mummy star totally unrecognizable.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 15: Brendan Fraser attends the 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on January 15, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Brendan Fraser attends the 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards, 2023. (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

The 54-year-old told the audience at GalaxyCon Raleigh last year: “The real task was to create this character authentically with all the tools we have with makeup, prosthetics, suit construction and a bit of CGI to ensure that the shape This man’s body obeys the laws of physics and gravity.”

Read more: Hollywood’s Best Comebacks

The shift from a muscular movie hunk in the ’90s to a morbidly obese Charlie in 2023 certainly feels a bit awkward and has sparked a lot of fatphobia talk. Roxane Gay wrote a New York Times Op-Ed titled ‘The Cruel Whale Show’.

In the article, Gay writes, “The Whale claims to have been told with care and grace, but it’s as exploitative as any episode of TLC’s My 600-lb Life.”

The Whale (A24)

Brendan Fraser in The Whale. (A24)

Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair wrote in his review that Charlie’s current existence is told with “a kind of prurient horror”.

Despite some negative reviews, Fraser insists that “we need to see the work” before passing judgment on her performance. Speaking to the Telegraph, Fraser explained that she “knew it had to be done sensitively and honestly”.

Director Darren Aronofsky has also addressed the controversy over how obesity is addressed in the film.

“People with obesity are often written as bad guys or jokes,” Aronofsky told Yahoo Entertainment last year.

“We wanted to create a fully fleshed out character that had good and bad parts; Charlie is very selfish, but he’s also full of love and seeks forgiveness. So [the controversy] It doesn’t make any sense to me. Brendan Fraser is the right actor to play this role, and the film is an exercise in empathy.”

The Whale (A24)

Brendan Fraser in rehearsals for The Whale. (A24)

Aronofsky also spoke to the Los Angeles Times podcast The Envelope about how he collaborated with the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC).

“They really feel like this is going to open people’s eyes,” Aronofsky said. “You have to remember that people in this community are judged by doctors when they seek medical help. They are judged wherever they go on the planet, by the majority of people.”

“This film shows that, like everyone else, we are all human and that we are all good, bad, flawed, optimistic, happy and sad, and that there are different colors within us.”

Read more: Why is everyone talking about Brendan Fraser?

So how exactly did The Whale create an accurate and empathetic representation of a morbidly obese individual?

Fraser’s intricate prosthetics were created by renowned prosthetics designer Adrien Morot, who also worked on The Revenant and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

The Whale (A24)

The Whale (A24)

Morot experimented with digital sculpting and a 3D printer for the body suit, as he was unable to make casts of Fraser’s face and body due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the designer had to be extremely creative.

With the help of an iPad, Whale’s producer managed to scan Brendan in his garage and Morot used this date, along with Zoom calls, to remotely design the suit.

“That was the biggest challenge I’ve ever had in my career. Morot told Vanity Fair about the prosthetic design for the Whale. “I always try to do makeup that’s subtle and imperceptible…it should be like, ‘What? Was this actor wearing prosthetics? I just thought he hadn’t seen it in a few years.”

To make the movements realistic, a full-body artificial skin suit was created by 3D printing and filled with sacks of “jelly water pearls”, to achieve the correct movement of Fraser’s limbs.

“I looked at other bodysuits that had been used in sitcoms over the years, usually for a one-note joke,” Fraser told Vanity Fair of the suit. “Whether intentional or not, the joke is that it defies gravity. This was not that.”

Brendan Fraser accepts the Spotlight Award for

Brendan Fraser accepts the Spotlight Award for The Whale at the 34th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival awards show. (AP)

Fraser also added that transforming into his character from The Whale was “cumbersome, not exactly comfortable”.

At the start of production, Fraser would spend a grueling five to six hours in a makeup chair, every day, to become Charlie, with a two to three hour countdown at the end of filming. The advanced prosthetics were so heavy that several people also had to be on hand to help Fraser move between the studio and the makeup room.

Read more: Ke Huy Quan and Brendan Fraser have an emotional Encino Man reunion

Fraser went on to describe the difficulty of donning the heavy but intricately designed suit for Vanity Fair: “The torso piece was almost like a straitjacket with sleeves that, retouched by hand, looked identical to human skin, right? down to the hand-stitched hair.”

Brendan Fraser in The Whale (A24)

Brendan Fraser in The Whale. (A24)

Along with the physical transformation, Fraser also wanted to mentally and emotionally prepare for her role in The Whale and worked with the Obesity Action Coalition.

He consulted with people who had undergone bariatric surgeries to learn more about their lives and struggles: “I quickly learned that it takes an incredibly strong person inside that body to be that person,” the actor said. “That seemed appropriate, poetic and practical, all at the same time.”

Read more: Brendan Fraser transforms into a 42 stone man

After a long hiatus in Hollywood, it’s wonderful to see Fraser back on the big screen delivering one of his most powerful and emotional performances to date.

The Whale is out in UK cinemas now.

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