A24 stunned moviegoers in late July when it debuted the first look at Brendan Fraser in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale. The drama, adapted from Samuel D. Hunter’s play of the same name, features Fraser under up to 136 kilos of prosthetics in order to play a man struggling with severe obesity.
A new report on the film published by Vanity Fair confirms that Fraser’s prosthetics were created by Adrien Morot, who worked with the director on Noah and who also worked on The Revenant and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Morot used a digital sculpture and a 3D printer to make Fraser’s prosthetic suit for The Whale.
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“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.”
Fraser called the prosthetic suit “beautiful and arresting,” but wearing it on set each day of filming was a different story. The actor said transforming into his The Whale character was “cumbersome, not exactly comfortable,” adding, “The torso piece was almost like a straight jacket with sleeves that went on, airbrushed by hand, to look identical as would human skin, right down to the hand-punched hair.”
As reported by Vanity Fair: “Fraser carried anywhere from 50 to 300 extra pounds [22 to 136 kilos] during filming, per Aronofsky, depending on the scene’s contents; further, 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.”
Fraser worked with the Obesity Action Coalition to prepare for “The Whale,” and he also consulted with people who had undergone bariatric surgeries. “I learned quickly that it takes an incredibly strong person inside that body to be that person,” the actor said. “That seemed fitting and poetic and practical to me, all at once.”
Joining Fraser in The Whale is a cast that includes Stranger Things favourite Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, Samantha Morton and Ty Simpkins. Aronofsky is once again joined by his longtime cinematographer Matthew Libatique. The movie is having its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and will open in cinemas in December.