Darren Aronofsky’s films are certainly one of a kind. From the very beginning of his career, he has created films that have taken the medium to new horizons. His incredible technical skill only provides a platform for the sheer intellect that is showcased in every one of his films.
Aronofsky studied filmmaking at Harvard University and made his feature film debut with the psychological horror film Pi. Critics and audiences alike knew that there was something special in the filmmaker, and since then, the director has been making thought-provoking films that entertain and sometimes shock his viewers.
When word got out that Aronofsky would be adapting Samuel D. Hunter’s acclaimed play, The Whale, fans were ecstatic. Much of the anticipation surely comes from the casting of Brendan Fraser in the lead role. Fraser has had many ups and downs in his career and has made an epic and well-deserved comeback. His talent and charisma have been constantly overlooked and underappreciated.
Although there has yet to be a trailer released for The Whale, there are many exciting facts to discuss. Here is everything we know so far about the much-anticipated film.
Updated October 2022 by Liz Young: If you are excited to check out The Whale, you’ll be happy to know we’ve updated this article with additional info, including the release date.
The Whale: The Plot
The screenplay will be adapted from playwright Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale. When the play debuted Off-Broadway in 2012, it received high praise from critics and won the Drama Desk Award as well as the Lucille Lortel Award for outstanding play. The story follows a 600-pound reclusive English teacher, Charlie (Brendan Fraser), who has decided to eat himself to death. Charlie’s pain and misery come from the abandonment and death of his gay lover, which leads to his chronic binge-eating. At the same time, Charlie tries to reconnect with his 17-year-old daughter for one last chance at redemption.
The Whale will explore dramatic themes of self-infliction, family, and grief. The film will be produced by the beloved production company A24. The collaboration between Aronofsky and A24 is certainly something to be excited about and will undoubtedly give us a fantastic and thought-provoking film.
The Whale: The Cast
Alongside Brendan Fraser in The Whale is an exciting cast to bring the acclaimed play to life on the big screen. Charlie’s estranged daughter, Ellie, will be played by Sadie Sink. The young American actress is most notably known for her role as Max Mayfield in Stranger Things. She has also had roles in Netflix’s Fear Street Part Two: 1978 and Fear Street Part Three: 1666, as well as Destin Daniel Cretton’s dramatic film, The Glass Castle.
Hong Chau will play the role of Charlie’s friend Liz, a cynical and atheist nurse. Chau has acted in many acclaimed shows, including Big Little Lies, Homecoming, and Watchmen. Chau received a Golden Globe Nomination for her supporting role in Alexander Payne’s Downsizing. Oscar-nominated actress Samantha Morton will play Charlie’s ex-wife Mary. Morton is a force to be reckoned with and has acted in several memorable movies in her career, including Minority Report, In America, and Sweet and Lowdown.
The Whale had its premiere at the Venice International Film Festival in September. After screenings at festivals, it is headed to theaters on December 9, 2022, for a wide release.
Brendan Fraser’s Comeback
Fraser started his career strong with dramatic roles, including School Ties and Gods And Monsters. He eventually proved himself as a leading man with The Mummy franchise. While fans wondered what caused the actor to drop from the spotlight, only years later did we find out what happened.
In 2018, Brendan Fraser alleged in an interview with GQ that he was sexually assaulted by the former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Phillip Berk, in 2003. The nature of the event deeply scarred the actor, hampering his ability to act. But it also affected his career directly due to Berk’s connections in Hollywood. He was forced to remain silent about his trauma for fifteen years.
Along with Fraser starring in a high-caliber film such as The Whale, 2019 marked the beginning of a true comeback. The actor took on a starring role in HBO’s Doom Patrol as Cliff Steele, AKA Robotman. The show is an adaptation of the DC Comic series, and Fraser’s performance has been universally praised.
In 2008, Aronofsky reinvented Mickey Rourke’s career with The Wrestler, and Rourke earned an Academy Award nomination for best actor. In that same regard, The Whale may be the role to finalize Fraser’s comeback and make him the next big thing once again. Roles with physical transformations such as these seem to always gain the attention of award committees. This may be Fraser’s chance to potentially win an Oscar.
Reviews from festivals praise the performances of Fraser, Sink, and Chau. The lead actor has received standing ovations at every festival the film has been screened at. Fraser is grateful for the response, speaking with Variety about the six-minute standing ovation he received at Venice International Film Festival.
“It felt so affirming. I was emotional because it was acknowledgment that what we did is making an impact. And that kind of response feels completely new in my professional life.”
This response has been wonderful, especially considering fans received the disappointing news that the Batgirl movie, in which Fraser was playing the villain Firefly, was not going to make it to screens in August 2022. After rumors that the film had been canceled, Warner Bros. confirmed the news in a statement.
The cancelation meant Fraser fans would miss out on one of his new projects. Audiences were eagerly anticipating his portrayal of the villain and to see another film in what has been dubbed the Brenaissance. While it is unlikely fans will ever see Batgirl, they can look forward to The Whale, Martin Scorsese’s Killer of the Flower Moon (which features a star-studded cast), and Brothers.
While audiences are still waiting for a trailer, with a release date less than two months away, it’s likely a trailer will appear any day now.