Unrecognizable: they publish the first image of Brendan Fraser in The Whale, the new film by Darren Aronofsky

At the end of June, Brendan Fraser said present on the blue carpet of the Tribeca Film Festival in New York and it clearly did not go unnoticed. The actor, who keeps a very low profile and does not use social networks, looked very different from how the public used to see him: he had gained noticeably in weight to personify a 600-pound man in Darren Aronofsky’s new movie, The whale (The whale). This Tuesday the first images of the film were released and caused a great commotion in social networks and, also, in the main American media.

“You are going to see something you have never seen before,” the actor assured in an interview, in 2021. “That is really all I can tell you. The wardrobe and changing room were gigantic, seamless, cumbersome. This is certainly a far cry from anything I’ve ever done, but I don’t want to be shy… I know it’s going to make a lasting impression,” he anticipated, shortly after filming ended.

Brendan Fraser in The Whale, the new film by Darren Aronofsky

In the film, which will be presented in early August at the Venice Film Festival, Fraser plays Charlie, a lonely English teacher who suffers from morbid obesity and decides to fight to meet his daughter Ellie, a 17-year-old teenager played by the actress of Strange thingsSadie Sink.

The leading trio is completed by Samantha Morton, who make up the cast along with Hong Chau and Ty Simkins. The whale marks the return of Aronofsky, whose last film, MotherIt wasn’t exactly a box office success and critics were divided between those who considered it brilliant and those who directly advised against seeing it.

In a way, it also means the return of Fraser. Although the actor had a supporting role in Not a false stepby Steven Soderbergh, last year, this film returns him to the place of stardom that he knew how to achieve and maintain for decades. This year, in addition, other projects that count him as part of the cast will be released: Bat girl, the film about the heroine of Gotham City in which she shares the bill with Leslie Grace, Michael Keaton and JK Simmons; the horror film behind the curtain of the nightwith Marcia Cross; and the new bet of Martin Scorsese, Assassins of the Moonflower, alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.

This return to the big leagues is surely doubly celebrated by the actor, who at the time assured that he was part of a blacklist. In 2017, Fraser joined the wave of complaints that shocked the American entertainment industry and assured that Philip Berk, former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) –the entity that awards the Golden Globe awards– sexually abused him and that having made the situation public at the time resulted in a clear lack of job offers.

As he told GQ magazine, the incident occurred in the summer of 2003, at a lunch organized by the HFPA at a hotel in Beverly Hills. In the middle of a room full of people, Berk walked up to him to greet him. “He reached out his left hand and grabbed one of my buttocks, while he put one of his fingers in and started moving it,” he recounted. Berk, for his part, had already mentioned the episode in his autobiographical book With signs and wondersin which he had recounted that he had pinched her butt as a joke. Fraser, however, assures that the event was not funny, and that at the time he was overcome with fear.

Fraser, in June 2021
Fraser, in June 2021Cindy Ord – Getty Images North America

“I felt sick. I felt like a little child. I felt like I had a ball in my throat. I thought I was going to cry,” she recalled. After the episode, he went to his house and told his wife what had happened. However, he was afraid to speak publicly about the incident.

Through his representatives, the actor demanded an apology from the HFPA. Berk, meanwhile, acknowledged writing a letter to GQ, though he denied taking responsibility for the abuse. “It was something more of the type ‘if I did something that upset Mr. Fraser, it was not intentional and I apologize,'” said the journalist, who remains a member of the entity. “Mr. Fraser’s version is a total fabrication,” he said.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, meanwhile, was also consulted and responded with a statement. “The HFPA strongly opposes sexual harassment and the type of behavior described in this article. Over the years, we have had a positive working relationship with Brendan, including announcing the Golden Globe nominees, attending the ceremony and participating in press conferences. This report includes purported information that was previously unknown to the HFPA and we are currently investigating further details of the incident.”

The actor, for his part, assured that this incident made him more lonely and that after it happened, he decided to withdraw from public life. In addition, he claimed that the HFPA “blacklisted” him and that he was rarely invited back to the Golden Globes.”The phone stopped ringing and I began to wonder why. There are many reasons, but was this one of them? I think so”, he stated.

Finally, Fraser noted that he was encouraged to tell his story by the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. “I know Rose McGowan, Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino. I worked with them. I feel my friends. I haven’t talked to them in years, but they are my friends. This movement is wonderful, as are these people with the courage to say what I did not have the courage to say”, he expressed.

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