Brendan Fraser has been receiving all manner of accolades for his lead role as Charlie in Darren Aronofsky's The Whale, including an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, and now the film's writer has pinpointed the exact moment he knew the star was perfect for the role.


Speaking exclusively to ahead of the film's UK release, Samuel D Hunter – who adapted the film from his own 2012 play of the same name – revealed it was clear Fraser was the right fit just 10 minutes into the first read-through of the screenplay.

"I was not a kid who watched George of the Jungle or The Mummy or anything like that, and so my relationship to Brendan's work was really defined more by Gods and Monsters," he explained of his reaction to Aronofsky's initial suggestion to cast Fraser.

"And so my first reaction was sort of like, 'Oh, he's a really good actor.' And then my second reaction was like, 'What's he been up to? I actually don't know.' And then one of the first things I read was that GQ article that came out that was so widely read, called What Ever Happened to Brendan Fraser?

"And I read it, and I hadn't been aware of that stuff. And I was like, 'Oh, there's something in the DNA of this character that Brendan really shares, so there really might be something here.'"

He explained that Aronofsky then rented a theatre in New York's East Village so they could do a reading of the script with Fraser, and it took practically no time for him to realise they'd made the correct choice.

"He was so good," he explained. "I mean, like, 10 minutes in, it was so clear that Brendan knew who this guy was, and had the ability to hold deep despair and deep joy at the same time – which is really fundamental for the character.

"I think this role lives or dies by whether or not an actor approaches it with any amount of cynicism and Brendan never had an ounce of it, which was exactly what it needed."

Brendan Fraser in The Whale
Brendan Fraser as Charlie in The Whale. A24

Hunter was on set for the entirety of the shoot and explained that watching Fraser perform up close was a very rewarding experience – singling out one scene he shares with Stranger Things star Sadie Sink in particular as being an acting masterclass.

"I remember the scene where Charlie kind of finally breaks through to Ellie (Sink)," he said. "It's in the middle of the film, or maybe two-thirds of the way in, where Ellie finally hears him and finally asks a genuine question – like, why didn't you support us? And where have you been?

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"She kind of leaves the vitriol behind, we're seeing the hurt 17-year-old girl. And that was a scene that Sadie and Brendan, who are both consummately good actors, were just hitting it out of the park. I mean, it was so incredible what they were doing and I thought, 'Wow, OK, if we can hold on to this, then I think we have something.'"

The Whale is now playing in UK cinemas. Check out our TV Guide or Streaming Guide to see what's on, or visit our Film hub for more news and features.


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