Brendan Fraser’s Most Heartbreaking Performance Ever Is On Streaming Now

By Charlene Badasie | Published

brendan fraser
Brendan Fraser in The Whale (2022)

The 2022 psychological drama The Whale is currently streaming on Paramount+. Directed by Darren Aronofsky, the movie is based on Samuel D. Hunter’s 2012 play of the same name. The film stars Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, Ty Simpkins, and Samantha Morton.

The plot follows the morbidly obese Charlie who tries to repair his relationship with his teenage daughter.

Charlie (Brendan Fraser) is a reclusive man who teaches online English writing courses for college students. But he hides his appearance by keeping his webcam off.

His only friend is Liz (Hong Chau), a nurse who urges him to seek medical help due to his severe risk of congestive heart failure.

Meanwhile, Charlie maintains a routine of ordering pizza from delivery driver Dan (Sathya Sridharan) without meeting him face-to-face. Charlie’s life turns when he seeks to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter, Ellie (Sadie Sink), whom he abandoned years ago for his lover, Alan. In a bid to spend time with Ellie, he offers her his entire bank account.

Brendan Fraser’s outstanding performance earned him an Academy Award, Critics’ Choice Award, and SAG Award for Best Actor.

She agrees only if he completes her homework. As Brendan Fraser’s character’s health worsens, Liz brings him a wheelchair, while the visits of Thomas, a missionary from the New Life Church, complicate matters. Over time, secrets are revealed, including Liz’s connection to the church and Alan’s tragic end, while Ellie secretly records a revealing conversation between Charlie and Thomas.

brendan fraser
Sadie Sink in The Whale (2022)

The Whale premiered at the 79th Venice International Film Festival in September 2022 and was theatrically released in December of that same year.

The Whale was a box office success earning $54.9 million against a comparatively modest budget of $3 million. Brendan Fraser’s outstanding performance earned him an Academy Award, Critics’ Choice Award, and SAG Award for Best Actor. The film also took home the Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, while Chau earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Brendan Fraser’s career-changing film The Whale is streaming on Paramount+.

However, some critics accused the film of perpetuating tired tropes of fat people as suffering, binge-eating, chronically depressed individuals. Others claimed that using a fat suit turned Brendan Fraser’s character into a spectacle and that the role of Charlie should have gone to a naturally obese actor.

NPR’s culture section highlighted the criticism, with detractors viewing The Whale’s premise as inherently dehumanizing. Others felt that the film’s empathy was superficial, and its depiction of Brendan Fraser’s character reinforced anti-fat stereotypes and preconceptions. In response to the controversy, director Darren Aronofsky defended the film, dismissing the criticisms as nonsensical.

He explained that actors have historically used makeup as one of their tools, and the film’s team went to great lengths to achieve realism in the portrayal. Aronofsky emphasized that the goal was to create a fully developed character with flaws and virtues, aiming to challenge the usual portrayal of obese individuals as villains or punch lines.

brendan fraser
Brendan Fraser in The Whale (2022)

Long before The Whale, Brendan Fraser enjoyed a successful career in film and television. He began his journey in 1991 with a small role in Dogfight but rose to fame in 1992 with breakout performances in the comedy Encino Man and the drama School Ties. He went on to showcase his versatility by starring in various genres, including romantic comedies, live-action/animated comedies, and psychological dramas.

Some of his most famous and notable films include The Mummy trilogy, Gods and Monsters, Crash, George of the Jungle, and Bedazzled. Despite experiencing some ups and downs in his career, Brendan Fraser has enjoyed a remarkable comeback, mainly due to his compelling performance in The Whale. The actor will next be seen in Killers of the Flower Moon from director Martin Scorsese.

Killers Of The Flower Moon

The movie is based on the 2017 book of the same name by David Grann. Set in the 1920s, the story follows an FBI investigation into the murder of several members of the Osage Native American tribe of Osage County, Oklahoma. 

Killers of the Flower Moon stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Ernest Burkhart, Robert De Niro as William “King” Hale, and Brendan Fraser as Hale’s corrupt lawyer W. S. Hamilton.

Killers of the Flower Moon is set for release on October 6, while The Whale is currently streaming on Paramount+.