Brendan Fraser is set to star in a whale of a tale.
In The Whale, the 52-year-old actor will portray Charlie, a 600-pound, middle-aged gay man trying to reestablish a bond with his 17-year-old daughter. Previously, Charlie had abandoned his family for his lover, who died, leading to overeating from grief.
The upcoming film is directed by Darren Aronofsky and based on a play by Samuel D. Hunter. Hunter's production premiered off-Broadway in 2012 and garnered critical acclaim with the Drama Desk Award and the Lucille Lortel Award.
The film is sure to be awards bait for Fraser, who despite a recent appearance on FX's Trust has been far from the Hollywood limelight since his heyday as the star of The Mummy franchise. Aronofsky's The Wrestler and Black Swan led their stars to the Oscars, although his most recent production, Mother!, starring Jennifer Lawrence, was met with mixed reviews.
Fraser's casting announcement, first reported by Deadline, comes at a time of debate over the appropriateness of straight actors taking gay roles. James Corden was recently slammed by critics for his "gayface" performance in The Prom. Additionally, Queer as Folk's Russell T. Davies declared that these parts should be reserved for gay actors.
"They are not there to 'act gay' because 'acting gay' is a bunch of codes for a performance. It’s about authenticity, the taste of 2020," he said.
As of 2021, dozens of straight actors have been Oscar-nominated for portraying LGBTQ+ roles, a distinction that has never been afforded to an out actor.