Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale” – What We Know

Ahead of Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale premiering at the Venice Film Festival, we only have a few images and a new Vanity Fair interview with Aronofsky and star of the film, Brendan Fraser. The Whale is one of the most anticipated films of the upcoming award season, and personally for most of our team, so we wanted to break down what we do know about the film.

The Aronofsky film, adapted from Samuel D. Hunter’s play of the same name, features Fraser under pounds of prosthetics in order to play a man struggling with severe obesity. In a new interview with the director and star, Vanity Fair confirms that Fraser’s prosthetics were created by Adrien Morot, who worked with Aronofsky on Noah and previous work includes The Revenant. “I looked at other body suits that had been used in comedies over the years, usually for a one-note joke,” Fraser told Vanity Fair about the suit. “Whether intended or not, the joke is, it defies gravity. This was not that.” Most our our team already had The Whale in their predictions for Make-up & Hairstyling, but this suggests it should be contending for the win perhaps.

As reported by Vanity Fair, “Fraser carried anywhere from 50 to 300 extra pounds during filming, per Aronofsky, depending on the scene’s contents. Fraser’s Charlie is severely limited in mobility. Several people were always on hand to assist Fraser in standing up, sitting down, wheeling him across the 70 or so steps between the studio and the makeup room. At the start of production, Fraser would spend five to six hours in a makeup chair, each day, to become Charlie; by the end, they got that hour count down to two to three.”

The Whale is described as a ten year journey for the director. Aronofsky first saw the play of the same name, written by Samuel D. Hunter, in 2012, and says he was instantly moved. Hunter worked on a screenplay after Aronofsky reached out, only for challenges to constantly present themselves. Challenges ranging from Aronofsky not wanting to abandon the play’s stationary notion to which actor would portray Charlie.

Per the Vanity Fair piece, Aronofsky’s The Whale, the film follows five days with Charlie. The film is described as not shying away from “showing compulsive binge eating as part of this man’s day-to-day life.”

“Unfortunately, so many characters portrayed in the media who are living with obesity are treated awfully—either they’re humiliated, made fun of, or just living in squalor,” Aronofsky says. “That was never Charlie. Obesity is just part of what Charlie is. After 10 minutes of spending time with Charlie, that’s the breakthrough that we hope the film has [for viewers].”

Joining Fraser in The Whale is a cast that includes Hong Chau, Sadie Sink, Samantha Morton and Ty Simpkins. Aronofsky is once again joined by his longtime cinematographer Matthew Libatique, who has been nominated for 2 Oscars, including one previous film with Aronofsky. The Whale is having its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and will also screen in September at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Be sure to follow Adriano, Jacob and Nicole for TIFF Coverage!

A24 will open The Whale exclusively in theaters December 9.

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