Brendan Fraser, the beloved 54-year-old actor, continued to shine in the “Brenaissance” as he received his first Academy Award on Sunday during the 95th Oscars. His role as Charlie, a reclusive English teacher attempting to reconcile with his estranged daughter (Sadie Sink) in Darren Aronofsky’s drama film The Whale, earned him the Best Actor in a Leading Role award.
This achievement adds to Fraser’s successful awards season, which includes winning the Screen Actors Guild Award and receiving nominations at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs. The actor competed with other first-time nominees in the Best Actor category, such as Austin Butler for Elvis, Colin Farrell for The Banshees of Inisherin, Paul Mescal for Aftersun, and Bill Nighy for Living.
When Fraser received his award, he jokingly exclaimed, “So, this is what the multiverse looks like!” He thanked the Academy and studio A24 for making such a bold film. Fraser also thanked director Darren Aronofsky for giving him a creative opportunity and bringing him on board the “good ship The Whale,” a film written by Samuel D. Hunter, who Fraser referred to as the lighthouse.
He praised his fellow nominees, saying they had laid their whale-sized hearts bare so they could see into their souls as no one else could. Fraser continued, “It is my honour to be named alongside you in this category. I wanted to tell you that only whales can swim at a depth of the talent of my Oscar-nominated co-star, Hong Chau.”
Fraser reflected on his career journey: “I started in this business 30 years ago, and it wasn’t an easy road for me.” He acknowledged that he had taken his opportunities for granted until they were no longer available, saying, “There was a facility that I didn’t appreciate at the time until it stopped.”
Fraser expressed his gratitude towards his sons Holden, Leland, Griffin, and everyone involved in the film, likening the experience of making the film to a diving expedition on the ocean floor, with his loved ones providing the support he needed to make it to the surface. He concluded by saying, “Thank you again, each one and all. I’m so grateful to you for this acknowledgement because it couldn’t be done without my cast.”
The transformation of Fraser into a 600-pound man for his portrayal of Charlie was made possible by the Oscar-winning makeup and hairstyling team of Adrien Morot, Judy Chin, and Annemarie Bradley. Their meticulous work involved the use of makeup, prosthetics, and a full-body artificial skin suit, which resulted in a convincing portrayal of a housebound online teacher in the drama film within the confines of Charlie’s apartment.
Morot noted that Fraser’s dedication to the role was impressive, particularly when he wore the 200-pound prosthetic suit. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Morot stated, “Nobody else would’ve gone through that. Everybody would’ve run away and called me crazy and gotten me fired.
But Brendan used that to find his character.” Morot also mentioned that they had created a lighter version of the understructure, but Fraser opted for the heavier one, saying, “You know what? I’m going to go with the heavy one. This is not Charlie.” This level of commitment allowed Fraser to fully immerse himself in the role, resulting in an outstanding performance.
Brendan Fraser has made a successful comeback in The Whale after decades of starring in famous movies such as Encino Man, George of the Jungle, The Mummy, and Bedazzled. He also had less prominent parts in Furry Vengeance and The Nut Job, which marked his last major film roles until now.
During an actor’s roundtable with The Hollywood Reporter, Fraser shared that a turning point came when he was shooting a scene for Furry Vengeance. In the scene, a bear was mauling him in a Porta Potty, overturned, causing Gatorade and other things to fall on him.
This made him question whether the risk was worth it and consider reprioritizing his career. Fraser also explained that he had to take a step back from acting for various reasons, including injuries and changes in the industry. He needed to rediscover his hunger to tell stories and grow back into the business.