When Brendan Fraser first read the screenplay for The Whale, he immediately understood that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. "I knew it was something compelling, truthful, and it spoke to me in ways that I hadn't felt in any other script that had come across my purview ever in my career," the actor shared during an Academy-hosted Q&A. "That made my teeth sweat a little bit, because I knew I wanted to do it very much."
The Whale follows Charlie (Fraser), a morbidly obese recluse, as he lives out his final days. Stuck inside his apartment, his only interactions are with a nurse friend, Liz (played by Hong Chau), a young evangelical missionary, and his estranged teenage daughter. At this year's 95th Oscars, the film is up for three awards: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling in recognition of the work by Adrien Morot, Judy Chin and Annemarie Bradley.
After landing the role, Fraser committed fully to doing Charlie justice. "I was on Zoom calls, drilling lines, and making the acquaintance of some really wonderful people who are a part of the Obesity Action Coalition," he said. "It was very clear to me that those who live with [obesity] have a story to tell, and they deserve to have it done so with dignity and respect."
When it came to embodying the character, that's where prosthetic makeup designer Morot came in. "This is the first time I ever do a movie where the main character is in prosthetics the entire time. He's in almost every scene," he noted, recalling that he told director Darren Aronofsky, "If the makeup doesn't work, the movie's not gonna work."
Watch the full episode of Academy Conversations below (which also features writer Samuel D. Hunter and composer Rob Simonsen as part of the panel) to learn more about the making of The Whale.
Inside 'The Whale's 10-Year Journey From Stage to Screen (Exclusive)
Hong Chau Reflects on Shooting Four Films in One Year: 'I Wasn't Expecting to Work' (Exclusive)