Brendan Fraser claims that his autistic son influenced his performance in “The Whale.” The 53-year-old actor, who has three children with ex-wife Afton Smith: Griffin, 20, Holand, 18, and Leland, 16, plays Charlie, an obese recluse, in Darren Aronofsky’s new film, and he explained that he “understands intimately” what it’s like for larger people, while admitting that his own love for his family drove his understanding of his character, who sets out to reconcile with his estranged daughter.
“I have three children of my own. My oldest son Griffin has special needs. He’s autistic. He just turned 20. He’s a big kid. He’s six foot five. He’s got big hands and feet, a big body. I understand intimately what it’s like to be close to someone who lives with obesity,” he told Freddie Prinze Jr. for Interview magazine.
“And because of the beauty of his spectrum – call it a disorder if you want, I disagree – he knows nothing of irony. He doesn’t know what cynicism is. You can’t insult him. He can’t insult you. He’s the happiest person and is also the manifestation of love in my life and many others’.”
“Being with my kids, their mom, and our family has given me so much love that if I ever needed to hold something of value up to try to translate that to what was important to Charlie, I didn’t have to look far.”
Brendan can’t stop thinking about his character even after the filming has wrapped. “I think about this guy all the time,” he said, adding, “I interviewed people on Zoom calls in researching for this, connections made possible by Dr. Goldman at the Obesity Action Coalition.”
“It’s a support and resource group with a huge online following and membership; it’s essentially a place where families and people who live with or are obese can go when they need health services, referrals, everything. It’s a wonderful organization.”
“The people I spoke with were so honest that I really questioned whether I was qualified to have this information,” she says. “What I learned, as heartbreaking as it is, is that each person who told me their story had one thing in common: There was someone in their youth who was very cruel to them by the way they spoke to them, and it set in motion the rest of their life.”
“Unfortunately, it was usually a father,” she says, “so when I found out that, I was like, ‘Well, I’ve got to try and do something to break that cycle,’ and if this is all I can contribute, that’s fine with me.”