Under Charlie’s Skin: Brendan Fraser’s Prosthetic Work for ‘The Whale’

Brendan Fraser went through hard work of makeup and prosthetic conditioning to get into the character of Charlie in “The Whale,” a role for which he is up for the Best Actor Oscar Award.

Alejandro Vizzuett

brendan fraser makeup the whale

Somebody give him the Oscar already! Brendan Fraser went through an arduous process of makeup and prosthetic fittings to embody his role in the film The Whale, and besides all the heavy equipment and intricacy to handle, he delivered a flawless and impressive performance to the world.

The Arduous Job of “Building” Charlie

Adrien Morot, makeup and main prosthetics designer in The Whale, a work for which he is also nominated for an Oscar, told Entertainment Weekly the challenges he had to endure with his team and the actor himself in the process of recreating Charlie, Fraser’s character for which he is competing for the Best Actor Oscar Award.

To bring this man, weighing almost 600-pounds, to life, several silicone-based prosthetic pieces had to be manufactured, which were then painted and arranged in such a way as to make Fraser look like a very robust person, but without losing sight of the fact that it had to look realistic since special effects would not be used at the time of editing the film.

Brendan fraser makeup the whale

“How do you do makeup that’s non-distracting while being respectful and has empathy and accuracy, and which people will forget after the initial shock of seeing Brendan Fraser in that state?” Morot commented while talking about both the creative and physical difficulties that the job caused him.

“So people will just dive into the story and see Charlie for the rest of the movie? Those were the biggest challenges right off the bat.” For this reason, the first thing that Morot did was discuss with Fraser and the director of the film, Darren Aronofsky, the idea that both had about how the character should be and the limitations that he had to show when moving, so as not to make it too difficult for the motor skills of the actor, and therefore generate a prosthetic prototype that met those expectations.

The designer comments that he manufactured several silicone-based parts for the complete assembly of the body and that based on them he sought to recreate the appearance of a man weighing 600 pounds in Fraser.

Brendan fraser makeup the whale

“We had two facial pieces, one for the front, and one for the back, going all the way down to his upper chest. Then, on most days, he had arms that were going from the tip of his fingers to his shoulder that would sort of overlap with the chest piece. So he had that on both sides, and then he had legs that would go up to his waist, like that, and then he had a mid-section here,” added the creative, physically showing the areas in which each part of the prosthetic was embedded in the actor.

A Huge Challenge for Brendan Fraser

It is a sure thing that it must not have been easy for the actor to have to endure hours and hours of application, and the process surely made him feel as tired as what he showed us of his character, and for that, Morot comments that the actor exceeded his expectations because he managed to withstand all that surprisingly.

In addition, the designer cannot say bad things about him, only flattery, since he considers that he is one of the kindest persons he has ever met and that he even feels that he is someone who is “not of this planet” because of his titanic efforts to perform the role.

Brendan fraser makeup the whale

Brendan was like: ‘You’re the expert – I trust you. The only thing that I want is to make sure that it’s accurate and respectful. I don’t want this to be a joke. I don’t want this to be a punchline,’” recalled Morot.

And it is precisely that synergy that the designer and actor achieved on and off the set that earned them Oscar nominations in their respective areas, although we will not be able to know if their work caused an outstanding impact among the voters of the Hollywood Academy but rather until March 12, the date on which the awards ceremony will take place.

Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva