The Whale: Cast, plot and everything you need to know about Brendan Fraser’s comeback movie

The Whale's premiere at the 79th Venice Film Festival on Sunday received an overwhelmingly positive response from critics and viewers alike

The Whale: Plot, cast, release date of Brendan Fraser's movie
(Image credit: A24)

If you've been wondering why Brendan Fraser’s upcoming new movie, The Whale, is absolutely everywhere today, here's what you need to know. 

The American psychological drama, directed by Darren Aronofsky, premiered on Sunday evening (September 4) to an overwhelmingly positive reception at the 79th Venice Film Festival ‒ and it looks like this could be the just start of a Hollywood renaissance for its talented lead actor. 

Fraser wowed viewers at the debut screening in Italy with his portrayal of Charlie, a middle-aged English teacher suffering from severe obesity in the aftermath of a relationship breakdown. The role required the 53-year-old, who has been relatively absent from TV and movies since the mid-2000s, to undergo a dramatic physical transformation with "a lot of makeup and prosthetics" and to "absolutely move in a new way" as he adapted to the extra weight of his 'fat-suit'. 

Fraser’s performance in the 117-minute-long film was so impressive that he received a six-minute standing ovation, in which he appears visibly tearful and temporarily unable to leave the theatre. 

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Critics are now speculating that The Mummy star could be nominated for his first-ever Oscar, 30 years after launching his career in the entertainment industry. 

What happened to Brendan Fraser? 

Brendan Fraser was once a Hollywood megastar, starring in everything from The Mummy trilogy (1999 ‒ 2008) to Encino Man (1992) and Airheads (1994). The American-Canadian actor continued dominating the silver screen into the early noughties, with his roles in Crash (2004) and Journey to the End of the Night (2006) often considered to be his best-known gigs of the last couple of decades. 

Fraser's career took a significant decline, however, in the mid-2000s, due to a number of debilitating health issues. He underwent multiple surgeries related to injuries caused by stunts from his action and comedy roles, leaving him unable to work on any long-term projects for several years. It's also been speculated that Fraser was blacklisted from Hollywood after he made allegations of sexual assault against Philip Berk, the ex-president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. 

What was Brendan Fraser's last movie?

Brendan Fraser's last movie was No Sudden Move, a 2021 American crime thriller set in 1950s Michigan. 

Who joins Brendan Fraser in the cast of The Whale?

Brendan Fraser is joined in The Whale by a small but solid cast, with Sadie Sink of Stranger Things playing Charlie’s teenage daughter, Ellie, and Hong Chau of Downsizing as his caring nurse friend, Liz. 

Ty Simpkins of Avengers: Endgame stars as Thomas, a Christian missionary determined to save the gravely sick Charlie’s life, while English actor, Samantha Morton (The Walking Dead and Decoding Annie Parker), plays Mary, his troubled ex-wife. 

The Whale

Sadie Sink as Ellie in The Whale

(Image credit: A24)

What is The Whale movie about?

The Whale follows the poignant story of Charlie, a reclusive English teacher who abandoned his wife and child nine years prior for a relationship with his gay lover. Now 600lbs and grieving both the loss of his family and his partner’s death, he embarks on a mission to reconcile with his 17-year-old estranged daughter, Ellie, whom he has not seen since she was eight years old. 

The Whale

(Image credit: Getty)

When is the release date of The Whale?

The Whale will be released on December 9 in US cinemas, but a UK release date has yet to be announced. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.