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Darren Aronofsky's The Whale Nearly Had A Very Different Director And Star

Darren Aronofsky's "The Whale," based on the play of the same name by Samuel D. Hunter, is a character study constructed around one man's pain and impending brush with mortality. Since its debut at the 2022 Venice International Film Festival, the film has won both critical praise for its emotional storytelling and criticism for how the film handles its central character. The debate stems from the use of prosthetics to depict an obese person. The New Yorker's Michael Schulman summed up one side of the argument by writing, "In 'humanizing' Charlie, Aronofsky seems to want to repel the viewer so that we can pat ourselves on the back for finding the man in the monster."

As divisive as the reception has been, the performances of Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, and Hong Chau have been roundly lauded. Fraser, long a favorite of filmgoers, is especially garnering acclaim for his turn as Charlie. The endearing actor has already racked up awards and nominations, with an Academy Award nomination seemingly a foregone conclusion. However, as we've learned, if things had gone a bit differently, neither Fraser nor Aronofsky would have been involved in the film.

James Corden was originally attached to play Charlie

None other than talk show host James Corden could have been in the lead role of Charlie in "The Whale." The actor spoke about his near-miss with the project while at a Q&A for the upcoming series "Mammals," where he relayed the story to Deadline's Pete Hammond.

While speaking about the movie, Corden told Hammond, "I was going to play that part, and Tom Ford was going to direct." Additionally, Corden also noted that George Clooney was interested in helming the movie, but this version didn't pan out because Clooney was apparently only interested in directing if the film used an actor who matched the main character's physical description.

Darren Aronofsky himself confirmed Corden's information in an informal conversation with Hammond; the director has also gone on record previously about the other potential incarnations of "The Whale." Speaking to Forbes, the filmmaker mentioned Ford and Clooney's past involvement, in addition to "Zola" filmmaker Janicza Bravo.

You can judge for yourself how you feel about Brendan Fraser and Darren Aronofsky's version of "The Whale" as the movie is currently in theaters.