The actor Brendan Fraser arrived to the New York City premiere of The Whale early on Tuesday, November 29. With his girlfriend Jeanne Moore in tow, and two of his sons trailing behind him, Fraser hit the carpet for the movie that has marked his big comeback to Hollywood. After years out of the public eye, the star of the Darren Aronofsky-directed film has proved he belongs in the spotlight—and is a major contender in the Academy Awards Best Actor conversation.
Despite a slew of recent press that’s heralded Fraser’s return, the actor himself was infinitely chilled out on Tuesday evening at Lincoln Center, where he joined Aronofsky, costars Sadie Sink (who was breathtaking in a classic black Chanel tube dress with tulle, her fiery hair trailing behind her as she took pictures on the step and repeat) and Ty Simpkins, along with a real who’s-who of the acting community, for the event. Stars including Charles Melton—who slung his arm over girlfriend Chase Sui Wonders’ shoulder as they walked off the carpet—Michael Gandolfini, AJLT’s Sarita Choudhury, Succession favorite Fisher Stevens, Eighth Grade actor Elsie Fisher, Danny Strong, and many more showed up. Most donned low-key looks and sidestepped the carpet, preferring to nestle into their seats for the screening in peace.
Fraser, Sink, Simpkins, and Aronofsky worked the press line instead—they’re seasoned vets for all the obvious reasons, but also because they’ve been touring The Whale the world over since it premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September.
The narrative of Fraser’s comeback, of course, has dominated headlines, along with theories galore about how he channeled his real-life experiences—especially those which caused him to back away from Hollywood for a bit—to play the 600-pound recluse, Charlie. So did the actor take everything within him and throttle it into his character, who has shut himself out from the world save one friend who visits his house every day to bring him food?
“Yes,” Fraser said. “It’s an actor’s job to draw on your own experience, to help give authenticity to it. The alchemy of actors’ processes has always been a strange voodoo, but with a screenplay as well-written as Sam Hunter’s and Darren Aronofsky directing this—which was really a departure from the types of material I’ve seen him create before—clearly, we were all keen to tell this story with as much dignity and respect as we possibly could.”
“What’s next?” is a major question being thrown at Fraser these days. But when asked whether he has a dream role to play in the future, he admitted that, after all these years, he still doesn’t.
“I promise you, I would tell you if I did,” he said. “It’s always whatever I’m doing is my favorite thing.”
Aronofsky, who enveloped Sink in an enormous hug as soon as he saw her, sang the actress’s praises farther down the carpet. “She’s working at a speed so much quicker than everyone else on the planet,” the director, who wore a nubby maroon Gabriela Hearst suit for the event, said. “Her brain is firing so fast. And if you watch the movie several times, you will constantly see new stuff that she’s done. I first saw her in Stranger Things and I was like, Who’s that? I want to work with her.”
Fraser wasn’t the only one whose family made an appearance. Aronofsky’s son, who had just come from school and was still wearing his backpack, attended the screening with friends. Chosen family was also in attendance: the Requiem for a Dream actress Ellen Burstyn took photos with Aronofsky—a reunion 22 years in the making.