SEATTLE — Former Seattleite Brendan Fraser is a frontrunner for the best actor Academy Award, based on his performance in “The Whale.”
He plays Charlie, a severely obese English teacher who never leaves his apartment. He teaches classes virtually and relies on the help of his friend and nurse (played by Hong Chau) for food and medical needs. As his health deteriorates, he tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter (played by Sadie Sink.)
Entertainment reporter Kim Holcomb talked to Fraser and his co-stars, along with writer Sam Hunter.
HOLCOMB: "You have some deep history with Seattle.”
FRASER: “Absolutely. I have Seattle to thank for birthing my acting career. I was a student at Cornish College in the late '80s and '90s, earned my degree there, and intimately and closely linked to the artistic community that is Seattle."
HOLCOMB: “I think the first time we had you on the show that I work for was for ‘George of the Jungle’ — how old were you when you did that one?”
FRASER: “27, 28?”
HOLCOMB: “What would 27 year old Brendan think of 54 year old Brendan?”
FRASER: “I think he'd be impressed that your career actually does evolve from more easily digestible mass-consumed broad comedies. With a movie like ‘The Whale,’ I think it can have as much of an impactful appeal to those who are looking to feel more challenged by a film that has heart and integrity and honesty."
HOLCOMB: "The film is dense with pain, I think it's fair to say. Brendan, can you please tell me — was there lightness between takes? Tell me something fun from set."
FRASER: "(There are) little valves all through the story that let a little steam off. You see there are inherent moments of joy in Charlie's life. But I thought I was pulling a prank on everyone when one day I wore a Fez hat to set. Was that funny, Sam?”
HUNTER: “Yeah, and the frog hat! Which you gave to my kid. Also, Brendan had a cooling tent and one day, he brought in a disco ball in there and it was one of my favorite moments from set. I was sitting at my computer and all of a sudden the disco ball goes on and Brendan just bursts into giggles.” (laughter)
HOLCOMB: "Which I imagine Charlie would have, too, which warms my heart. On a scale of one to ten, how difficult is it to yell at Brendan Fraser?”
SINK: “You don't want to yell at someone like Brendan."
HOLCOMB: "What is the greatest challenge of shooting an entire film in essentially one room?"
CHAU: "Finding ways to showcase the actors, because Brendan's character is mostly stationary and so the supporting characters, we're truly orbiting him."
HOLCOMB: "Sadie I know you have talked about not being familiar with any of Brendan's earlier work, which makes sense given your age. Was he familiar with yours? Had he watched ‘Stranger Things?’ I mean, him and Winona Ryder go way back, right?”
SINK: “Right, right. Yeah, Brendan has seen ‘Stranger Things.’ Now I've seen some of Brendan's movies, which has been a blast. It's really fun to look at his past roles because his role in this movie is so different than anything he's done before."
CHAU: "I think all of us are secretly looking for an opportunity to just cry or have a big emotion and this movie really allows you that and says, ‘It's okay.’"
“The Whale” is rated R and is now playing in theaters.