Brendan Fraser Gives Emotional Acceptance Speech At Critics’ Choice Awards - Men's Health Magazine Australia

Brendan Fraser Gives Emotional Acceptance Speech At Critics’ Choice Awards

His performance as a lonely, obese man in The Whale has seen Brendan Fraser garner Oscar buzz. But for the beloved star, the award is one that serves to remind others to never give up.

For some time in the early 2000s, it seemed impossible to go to the cinema and not see Brendan Fraser’s face appear onscreen. From The Mummy to George of the Jungle and Inkheart, Fraser wasn’t just a star we grew up with, but also a bankable action hero. Along with his good looks and charismatic humour, he put his body on the line as someone all too willing to perform the kind of stunts most would require a trained professional to do in their place.

Suddenly though, just when it seemed we were reaching peak Fraser, the star mysteriously disappeared from our screens. Only now, some two decades later, are we seeing the return of the movie star we once knew. As Fraser stars in Darren Aronofsky’s latest film, The Whale, what’s been heralded as a comeback hasn’t just garnered the star incredible Oscar buzz, but also seen him reflect on his career and the kindness of those who have always been in his corner. 

The film from A24 tells the story of Charlie, an obese man who now lives within his living room in his dark, second-floor apartment in Idaho. From here, he teaches expository writing to online college students via his laptop, but never turns his video on as he tells his class the camera on his computer is broken. Having gone years without ever venturing outside, Charlie self-medicates by binge-eating pizzas, fried chicken and meatball subs. 

Over the course of one week, visits from three individuals change his life. There’s a visit from his caregiver, a nurse who alters between scolding Charlie for his self-destructive habits and comforting him with hugs and food; a young man named Thomas who is an inexperienced missionary determined to save Charlie, and Charlie’s estranged 17-year-old daughter, Ellie, who only agrees to visit him because he pays her for her time. 

The audience learns a lot about Charlie’s life over the course of the film, allowing them to see the many layers and complexities that make up Charlie’s character and what motivates him, as well as those visiting him at home. Critics have been quick to praise Fraser for giving what they call the best performance of his career, something that’s already been recognised after the star accepted the award for best actor at the 2023 Critics’ Choice Awards. 

Speaking about the film, an emotional Fraser described it as a story about love, redemption and “finding the light in a dark place.” He thanked the cast that worked alongside him and called out Hong Chau and Ty Simpkins, along with Sadie Sink who plays his on-screen daughter. “She’s incredible,” said Fraser. “Who are you?! Your talent presages your years. It took me 32 years to get here!”

Fraser also went on to thank his director, Darren Aronofsky. “I was in the wilderness and I probably should’ve left a trail of breadcrumbs. But you found me…and you merely just showed me where to go to get where I needed to be,” he said. 

Speaking to the audience and viewers at home, Fraser used his platform to empower others who might also be struggling with obesity or who feel “like you’re in a dark sea,” reminding them to find strength to “get to your feet and go to the light…good things will happen.”

By Jessica Campbell

Jess is a storyteller committed to sharing the human stories that lie at the heart of sport.

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