Actor Daniel Franzese—known for his role in Mean Girls—shared substantive complaints about the role that is fast becoming known as Brendan Fraser's return to greatness.
Fraser—who donned a fat suit for his new film The Whale about a 600-lb. reclusive gay writing instructor—was praised for his portrayal of the character.
He received standing ovations throughout the summer film festival circuit.
The Whale | HD Trailer (2022) | A24 youtu.be
The movie certainly looks interesting and is receiving critical acclaim, but Franzese's point isn't about the quality of the film.
It's about the casting.
Franzese told People:
"I love Brendan Fraser, [so] I’m very conflicted.
"Seeing him get up so modest in Venice and have that moment, I was very happy for him. He’s a lovely man. And it’s great."
“But why? Why go up there and wear a fat suit to play a 400-lb. queer man?”
"To finally have a chance to be in a prestige film that might be award-nominated, where stories about people who look like us are being told? That's the dream."
"So when they go time and time again and cast someone like Brendan Fraser, me and the other big queer guys, we're like, 'What the ... ?' We can't take it!"
"I would have loved to have read for [The Whale]."
"I mean, who knows more about being an obese queer man than an obese queer man?"
"But I guess you can go ahead and wear a fat suit and do what you got to do and get your Oscar. We’ll just sit here, waiting."
The actor said it's not really Fraser, but a symptom of a larger problem in Hollywood casting.
Franzese blamed the timidness of casting queer people to play queer people, or casting them at all, on Hollywood's desire for film revenue outside of the USA.
"The biggest problem we have right now in our industry is that people like me and my colleagues can’t really sell movies overseas if we are actually queer because the world is homophobic."
He finished with a call to action for those who want to make real change in Hollywood.
"But it’s going to take risk-takers and real trailblazers to let us cut our teeth in these roles as actors so we, too, can have a shot at a full career in Hollywood."
Over on Twitter reactions were mixed—many plainly fatphobic—but some nuance came through.
Some were quick to say it's just acting which is a frequent response when a marginalized group is not afforded opportunities to play themselves in films.
The same argument is noticeably absent when marginalized, underrepresented people play characters fans feel should be reserved for White, heternormative actors.
\u201c@people Ugh! Because it\u2019s called ACTING!!!!!! Not real life!\u201d— People (@People) 1664215685
People often came back to one particular point ignoring how Franzese addressed it in his remarks
People know who Brendan Fraser is and name recognition sells tickets.
\u201c@THR The simplest answer (which might not always be the best) is the name. People know Brendan Fraser\u2019s story and that might draw more people to see the movie.\u201d— The Hollywood Reporter (@The Hollywood Reporter) 1664234089
\u201c@PunkJesster @WhatsupDanny First of all, this is what acting is. \n\nSecondly, name recognition matters to studios when shooting a film because they want to ensure eyes on their product. I watch a lot of movies, I never knew he even existed.\n\nSeems to me he needs to get a better agent.\u201d— Jess (@Jess) 1664284199
\u201c"because Brendan Fraser is a movie star who makes the movie more viable and visible and easier to finance," is my guess\n\nhttps://t.co/XI9zJ4A405\u201d— Ratty (@Ratty) 1664291919
Others pointed out this isn't the first conversation we're having about Hollywood using fat suits or not casting LGBTQ+ people...
\u201c@PunkJesster @WhatsupDanny When Gwyneth Paltrow was in the movie shallow Hal I was totally given that the side eye. This situation I\u2019m just not sure.\u201d— Jess (@Jess) 1664284199
...and the existence and critical praise for The Whale brought up another good question.
\u201c@THR Valid question, but more importantly, why are fat characters always \u201ctragic\u201d and their narratives about their size somehow? Surely Hollywood is creative enough to move past fat phobic tropes\u2026\u201d— The Hollywood Reporter (@The Hollywood Reporter) 1664234089
Some folks commented on the feedback to Franzese after his comments began circulating.
\u201c@KivanBay I made the mistake of reading the comments on this article an uhh... Solidarity with Daniel is all I can say. The response is predictably terrible. https://t.co/KTBXwpuXlQ\u201d— kivan (@kivan) 1664422951
Franzese actually replied in one of the threads stemming from an article reporting on his statement.
\u201c@snellsbells22 @PunkJesster I was just asked "if it was excited about the movie" I do have conflicted feelings ngl but I wish him the best though and I definitely will see it. I love his acting and Darren is one of my favorite directors.\u201d— Jess (@Jess) 1664284199
The Whale will release in the USA on December 9.