Brendan Fraser Tears Up During 6-Minute Standing Ovation For ‘The Whale’

VENICE, Italy (AP) — Brendan Fraser is having a second on the Venice Worldwide Movie Pageant.

The as soon as ubiquitous film star of “The Mummy” franchise and “George of the Jungle” had, within the final decade, backed away from the highlight. However Fraser is charting what may very well be a significant comeback beginning together with his transformative position in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale,” which had its world premiere Sunday night time on the pageant.

Because the credit rolled within the Sala Grande theater, the viewers gave the movie a protracted standing ovation whereas Fraser, on the balcony alongside his director and co-stars, wiped tears away.

Fraser performs Charlie, a reclusive English trainer with a form soul who weighs 600 kilos (270 kilograms). Whereas the movie already has pundits predicting Oscar nominations, Fraser is attempting not to consider whether or not awards are in his future.

“I’m just trying to stay in today,” Fraser mentioned earlier than the premiere.

Aronofsky has been attempting to make “The Whale” for about 10 years. He vividly remembers studying The New York Instances evaluate of Samuel D. Hunter’s play, going out to see it, and understanding he needed to meet the author.

One line particularly caught out to him: “People are incapable of not caring.” It’s why, he mentioned, he needed to make the movie.

However casting introduced a problem.

“To a lot of Sam Hunter’s pain, it took me 10 years to make this movie and that’s because it took me 10 years to cast,” Aronofsky mentioned. “Casting Charlie was a huge challenge. I considered everyone. Every single movie star on the planet. But none of it really clicked. … It didn’t move me. It didn’t feel right.”

Then, just a few years in the past, he noticed a trailer for “a low-budget Brazilian movie” with Fraser and “a lightbulb went off,” he mentioned.

Fraser, who additionally has a task alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese’s subsequent movie, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” mentioned he doesn’t “know an actor in my peer group worth his weight in salt who wouldn’t want to work with Darren.”

Plus: “By far and away I think Charlie is the most heroic man I have ever played,” Fraser added. “His superpower is to see the good in others and bring that out of them.”

Prosthetics have been used to rework Fraser into Charlie, who not often leaves his sofa.

Fraser, Hong Chau, director Darren Aronofsky, Sadie Sink and Samuel D. Hunter pose for photographers upon arrival on the premiere of the movie ‘The Whale’ through the 79th version of the Venice Movie Pageant in Venice, Italy on Sept. 4.

Photograph by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

“I needed to learn to absolutely move in a new way. I developed muscles I did not know that I had. I even felt a sense of vertigo at the end of the day when all the appliances were removed, as you would feel stepping off of a boat in Venice,” Fraser mentioned. “It gave me an appreciation for those with bodies similar. … I learned that you need to be an incredibly strong person, physically, mentally, to inhabit that body.”

Past his physicality, Charlie can be a personality with profound empathy and love for everybody round him, together with his estranged daughter, Ellie, performed by “Stranger Things” star Sadie Sink.

“She’s got a lot of things to say so she comes in hot. But I think what she’s not expecting is someone who cares so much about her,” Sink mentioned. “For someone like Charlie to see that there’s good in someone like Ellie, it’s throwing her for a loop.”

Hunter, who additionally wrote the screenplay, mentioned his play is private. He began it 12 years in the past when he was instructing a compulsory expository writing course at Rutgers College that nobody needed to take and everybody resented. He additionally pulled from his personal background, setting the play in his hometown of Moscow, Idaho, and weaving in his historical past of being depressed, self-medicating with meals and going to a fundamentalist spiritual highschool as a homosexual teenager.

“I was afraid to write it,” he mentioned. “I thought the only way I can do it is if I write it from a profoundly place of love and empathy. … I wanted (Charlie) to be a lighthouse in the middle of a dark, dark sea.”

“The Whale” was Aronofsky’s favourite form of problem — in that it had so many limitations. He realized way back on 1998′s “Pi” that boundaries are “your gateway to freedom.” On that movie, he solely had $20,000 and a dream. In “Mother!” he was restricted to a home. And, in “The Whale,” it’s not only a single condominium, it’s additionally a personality who doesn’t transfer a lot.

He and cinematographer Matthew Libatique, whose friendship stretches again to their days on the American Movie Institute in 1990, spent fairly a little bit of time speaking about “how to turn theater into cinema” and “how to make that engaging and exciting.” Within the tough reduce, Aronofsky mentioned he was relieved to seek out that it didn’t really feel claustrophobic.

Fraser added that the movie is “a piece of cinema. Proper cinema.”

Venice is a daily cease for Aronofsky, who in 2008 gained the Golden Lion for “The Wrestler” and likewise debuted “Black Swan” and “The Fountain” on the Lido. He mentioned the pageant is like dwelling.

Aronofsky and his actors may very well be poised to go away with trophies in hand this 12 months, too. “The Whale” is a part of the official competitors of the pageant, which will probably be selected by a Julianne Moore-led jury on Sept. 10. And A24 plans to launch it in theaters on Dec. 9. However he’s principally simply glad to be again together with his first movie since 2017′s “Mother!”

“The last few years, so many of us have lost so much. … Cinema is about human connection. It’s about the chance to slide into someone else’s shoes and have two hours of empathy in someone else’s mind. I think that’s exactly what the world needs. I’m just so happy to be back,” Aronofsky mentioned. “It’s a big moment for me and, I think, for cinema.”