Brendan Fraser, the ’90s heartthrob who made a career comeback with his awards season run for “The Whale,” won the Oscar for best actor.
An emotional Fraser got on stage and exclaimed, “so this is what the multiverse looks like!”
He then continued down a nautical-themed speech thanking his cast, crew and family.
“I’m grateful to Darren Aronofsky for throwing me a creative lifeline and hauling me aboard the good ship ‘The Whale,'” Fraser said. “That was written by Samuel D. Hunter who is our lighthouse. Gentleman, you laid your whale-sized hearts bare so that we could see into your souls like no one else could do. It is my honor to be named alongside you in this category. I want to tell you that only whales can swim at the depth of talent of Hong Chau [fellow nominee].”
“I started in this business 30 years ago, things didn’t come easy to me but there was a facility that I didn’t appreciate at the time, until it stopped. I just want to say thank you for this acknowledgement. It couldn’t be done without my cast. It’s been like I’ve been on a diving expedition and the air on the line to the surface is being watched over by some people in my life like my sons.”
Fraser picked up the Academy Award for his role as Charlie, a house-bound 600-pound English teacher who is trying to salvage his relationship with his estranged daughter, played by Sadie Sink.
The 54-year-old actor maintained a stunning lead throughout the award season, starting with a 14-minute standing ovation during the world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Fraser also took home hardware from the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Critics’ Choice Awards. When asked what he thought of the Oscar buzz back at the start of it all at the Variety TIFF studio, Fraser quoted author Herman Melville, saying: “I know not all that may come, but come what may, I will go to it laughing.”
Originally performed as a play in an off-Broadway production in New York, original scribe Samuel D. Hunter adapted it from stage to screen for A24. Despite the pedigree of the playwright and the fact that previous Oscar nominee Aronofsky was attached to direct, it took 10 years to cast the role of Charlie. “I considered pretty much anyone on the planet to play this role,” Aronofsky told Variety. “Sam’s [Hunter] writing would attract many actors to play the role, so that wasn’t the problem, it was about getting that feeling inside of a reason to make the film. Putting Brendan in the film was a reason to make the movie.”
Other nominees in the best actor category were Austin Butler (“Elvis”), Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”), Paul Mescal (“Aftersun”) and Bill Nighy (“Living”).
“The Whale’s” other Oscar nominations included Hong Chau for supporting actress and makeup and hairstyling.