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The Whale - What We Know So Far

Beloved actor Brendan Fraser is firmly on the comeback trail. After years of working on smaller-budget films, he returned to the mainstream spotlight with a regular role on HBO Max's "Doom Patrol." And now he's got a possible Oscar contender under his belt. Darren Aronofsky's "The Whale" is a dramatic piece that's rather unlike anything Fraser has done since he first grabbed attention in films like "School Ties" and "With Honors."

In "The Whale," Fraser dons a prosthetic suit that simulates a 300-pound weight gain to play Charlie. He's a man whose life has shrunken down to the size of his living room couch due to the crushing weight of years of guilt, loneliness, and grief that keep him stuck. However, a shot at a new life arrives in the form of his estranged teenage daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink). 

"The Whale" is unlike anything Brendan Fraser has done before and he "wanted to be reintroduced" as an actor, as he told Vanity Fair in an interview. Fraser explained, "I wanted to disappear into [the role]. My hope was that I would become unrecognizable." With the buzz growing around Fraser's disappearance in the movie, here's what we know about "The Whale" so far.

Who stars in The Whale?

Aside from Fraser, "The Whale" is stacked with a variety of talented actors. Per IMDb, Sadie Sink — best known as Max on "Stranger Things" — portrays Charlie's estranged daughter, Ellie. Samantha Morton appears as Mary, Ellie's mother and Charlie's ex-wife; Ty Simpkins is the young missionary Thomas; Hong Chau plays Charlie's nurse and caregiver Liz; Huck Milner portrays Ben and Ryan Heinke is Dave. Sathya Sridharan appears in a currently unnamed role. There's no word as to how Milner, Heinke, and Sridharan's characters are integrated into the movie's plot as of press time.

Darren Aronofsky ("Black Swan," "The Wrestler," and "Requiem for a Dream") directs, while Samuel D. Hunter wrote the screenplay, which is an adaptation of his play of the same name. Hunter's play received wide critical acclaim when it debuted in 2012. Playbill states that it won the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Play and the GLAAD Media Award for New York Theatrical Production. 

When will The Whale be released?

Per Collider, "The Whale" will have its premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 4, 2022. It will then hit theaters worldwide on December 9, 2022. There's no word as to whether or not the film will be a wide or limited release during its first week.

A24 may be looking to get some Oscar buzz with this release date, as December tends to be the month when studios release their most prestigious films in the hope of landing them Oscar nominations. Fraser has already snagged one of two Tribute Awards for Performance at the 2022 International Toronto Film Festival for this role and will receive the award at the TIFF on September 11.

There has been no announced home media release date, so it doesn't look like home viewers will be able to watch "The Whale" on the same day it hits theaters. A24 has not announced its intentions regarding this matter as of press time.

What is The Whale about?

According to Vanity Fair, Aronofsky wanted to make a faithful adaptation of Hunter's play. The plot of the film follows that of the play, as described by The Chicago Tribune. Charlie is an English teacher whose life has run away from him. His weight has ballooned up and his agoraphobia keeps him in his home, where he teaches English Lit classes remotely. Charlie is alone: He left his daughter Ellie and her mother Mary to pursue a love affair with another man, but his lover has since died. He's sunk into a deep depression and is determined to eat himself to death, so he reaches out to reconnect with Ellie and find some hope.

"The Whale" is a chamber piece that takes place all in one location of Charlie's home. Ellie shows up and she is feisty and strong-willed, absolutely refusing to let her father sink into a pity-filled depression without putting up a fight. Step by step, father and daughter battle to come to an understanding, as they process their relationship, grief, and loss. Charlie is teaching "Moby Dick" to his class and this classic, along with other whale-focused parables, provides a background motif for the characters on-screen.