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Darren Aronofsky Knew He Wanted Brendan Fraser In The Whale After Just One Meeting

Brandon Fraser is set to make a career comeback with "The Whale," which is director Darren Aronofsky's most recent endeavor, following up 2017's "Mother!" Based on the stage play of the same name by Samuel D. Hunter (who also wrote the screenplay), "The Whale" follows a 600-pound gay middle-aged man named Charlie (Fraser) as he attempts to reconnect with his 17-year-old daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink). Earlier in his life, Charlie became estranged from Ellie after he left his wife Mary (Samantha Morton) for another lover. After his lover died, Charlie began binge eating as a way to cope with his grief.

The film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September of 2022, has received mixed to positive reviews thus far — it currently holds a 71% Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes — but one thing that critics seem to agree with is that Fraser gives a stellar performance. In a mixed review from NME, for example, El Hunt wrote, "It should be said that Brendan Fraser — making his long-awaited comeback to cinema — imbues The Whale's central figure with as much empathy and care as possible within the considerable confines of the script."

And, as it turns out, Aronofsky was certain that Fraser was the right actor to portray Charlie immediately — after just one meeting, in fact.

Aronofsky knew that Fraser could take on the complex character

Variety recently published an in-depth interview with Darren Aronofsky and Brendan Fraser, in which they discussed all things "The Whale" — including casting Fraser in the leading role. Aronofsky explained that bringing "The Whale" to life was a decade in the making, during which he met with multiple potential actors and grew defeated when none of them seemed to fit. Then, after watching Fraser in a low-budget film, the director had the idea that Fraser might be a good fit and wanted to meet with him. Once they did meet, Aronofsky was certain that Fraser was the right fit for the role.

Aronofsky revealed, "As soon as he left my office after our first meeting, I felt it. I knew he could play someone who most people would start off by dismissing, but within five minutes they'd start to feel something for him. Then, within 20 minutes, they're starting to fall in love with the character, because there's just something about Brendan. Pretty soon, he starts to break your heart."

Fraser added that he did, indeed, give his all to the performance, wanting to be all-in for the character. The actor continued, "If I'm not approaching each day's work as if it's the first and last time I ever act, then I'm not the man for the job. With this movie, everything I had to offer is everything that you see on the screen."