The Whale director Darren Aronofsky fired critics who said his critically acclaimed movie promoted “fat phobia.”
At the center of the controversy is a fat suit worn by co-star Brendan Fraser, 54, who plays a 600-pound English teacher named Charlie as he struggles to mend his relationship with his estranged teenage daughter, portrayed by Sadie Sink.
Aronofsky, 53, reportedly told Yahoo! Entertainment was not expecting criticism when it cast Fraser, and defended his use of artificial weights – saying that “actors have been using makeup since the very beginning of acting”.
“We’ve never gone to such lengths to portray the realism of makeup before,” said Aronofsky. “One of my first calls after choosing Brendan was to makeup artist, Adrien Morot. I asked him, ‘Can we do something realistic?’ Because if it’s going to look like a joke, we shouldn’t be doing it.”
Fraser’s transformation sparked backlash during previews in the fall, with independent film critic Katie Reeve advising plus-size viewers—and even those with a thinner frame— Not to watch the movie.
“I cannot in good conscience recommend that fat people watch The Whale,” Rafe said chirp in September. “I can’t advise skinny people to watch it either, because it reinforces the idea that fat people are pathetic and have caused them to suffer through their lack of coping skills.”
Aronofosky further notes in his final rebuttal that Charlie is a versatile character who does not fall into typical stereotypes.
“People who are obese are generally written as villains or as misfits,” the Oscar-nominated director continued. “We wanted to create a fully thought-out character that has bad parts about him and good parts about him; Charlie is very selfish, but he’s also full of love and seeks forgiveness.”
“So [the controversy] Doesn’t make sense to me. “Brendan Fraser is the right actor to play this role, and the movie is an exercise in empathy,” said Aronofsky.
Fraser echoed his director during the live session, saying that Charlie is a “well-rounded character” rather than the person who introduces him, and that the audience should not be so quick to judge.
“He’s not the kind of person we very much dismiss,” Fraser said, referring to our culture’s demonization of obese people. “He’s an obese man, but he’s also a father and he’s also a teacher. He’s someone who can bring out the best in others even when they can’t see it in themselves. Tragically, he can’t do it himself.”
said Fraser, whose performance drew standing ovations at several film festivals this year, including in Venice, London and Toronto, and was hailed as a comeback for the actor.
He also received a Golden Globe nomination for this role, written by playwright Samuel D. Hunter in 2012. Prior to its big-screen adaptation, the off-Broadway production of “The Whale” won two dramatic awards.
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