“The Whale” director Darren Aronofsky doesn’t understand some of the criticism surrounding the film.
Brendan Fraser has largely received praise for his portrayal of 600-pound character Charlie, who is confined to a wheelchair, in the movie.
However, some have called the film “fatphobic”, with writer Roxane Gay even saying it was “exploitative” and “at times, cruel” in a New York Times article.
Aronofsky told Yahoo! Entertainment of any criticism: “Actors have been using makeup since the beginning of acting — that’s one of their tools.
“And the lengths we went to to portray the realism of the make-up has never been done before. One of my first calls after casting Brendan was to my makeup artist, Adrien Morot. I asked him, ‘Can we do something that’s realistic? Because if it’s going to look like a joke, then we shouldn’t do it.'”
The movie-maker continued, “People with obesity are generally written as bad guys or as punchlines.
“We wanted to create a fully worked-out character who has bad parts about him and good parts about him; Charlie is very selfish, but he’s also full of love and is seeking forgiveness.
“So [the controversy] makes no sense to me. Brendan Fraser is the right actor to play this role, and the film is an exercise in empathy.”
The star told Interview Magazine that he “understands intimately” what it’s like to be close with someone who lives with obesity.
“[Griffin] just turned 20, he’s a big kid, he’s six foot five, he’s got big hands and feet, a big body. I understand intimately what it is to be close to a person who lives with obesity,” Fraser said.
The 54-year-old noted that Griffin is the “happiest person” in his life, explaining that, due to his son’s autism, he doesn’t know what “cynicism” is.
“You can’t insult him,” he added.