Fraser stars as a 600-lb (250-kg) English professor in Darren Aronofsky's 'The Whale'

Brendan Fraser returns to Venice the size of a whale

Frazier plays a 600 lb (250 kg) English professor in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale – Copyright AFP JAVIER TORRES

In one of the most unexpected returns to film, Brendan Fraser turned into a morbidly obese man for The Whale, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Sunday.

One of the biggest names in Hollywood in the 1990s, Frazier starred in a number of family blockbusters, including George of the Jungle and The Mummy, before his film career declined in the late 2000s.

But his return as Charlie, a 600-pound (250 kg) English professor trying to reconnect with his daughter, immediately sparked talk of an Oscar nomination.

“I had to learn how to move in a completely new way,” Frazier told reporters in Venice.

“I have developed muscles that I didn’t even know I had. I even felt dizzy at the end of the day when all the instruments were removed, as it happens when you get off the boat here in Venice.”

This is the latest film from American director Darren Aronofsky, who won the 2008 Venice Golden Lion grand prize for The Wrestler and is known for dark indie films like Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream.

Keith, however, is deeply optimistic.

As the story progresses, the causes of Charlie’s obesity are revealed, rooted in traumas related to his sexuality and religion, but he never lets them cloud his view of the world.

– “Lighthouse in the dark sea” –

“Charlie is by far the most heroic person I’ve ever played,” Frazier said. “His superpower is to see the good in others and bring that out in them.”

Aronofsky said it was “the most important message for the world”.

“Everyone is leaning towards cynicism and darkness and losing hope, which is exactly what we don’t need right now. We have to build on (the idea that) underneath it all we really care about each other,” the 53-year-old director said.

There was some grumbling in the American press that an obese man should have been chosen for the role.

Asked about this, Aronofsky said, “I looked at everyone, every movie star on the planet, but not one of them matched.

“Then, a couple of years ago, I caught a trailer for a low-budget Brazilian film. Brendan took part in it and the light bulb went off.”

The Whale was originally a play by Samuel D. Hunter, who helped adapt it for the screen.

“I wrote this character from a very personal place. I have a history of self-medication with food. I was gay in a fundamentalist religious high school,” he said in Venice.

“I was afraid to write. The only way I could do it was to write it out of love and sympathy… I wanted it to be a beacon in a dark sea.”

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