The actor stars in Darren Aronofsky’s film as a reclusive English teacher with obesity who is trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter.
The film debuted to mixed reviews, but critics praised Fraser’s performance, with the actor winning for Best Actor at the Critics Choice Awards and being nominated at the Golden Globes and Baftas. You can read The Independent’s review here.
However, much of the criticism of The Whale surrounds Fraser’s casting in the role, for which he put on weight and wore a fat suit.
Appearing on The Graham Norton Show on Friday (20 January), Fraser described his experience of wearing “extensive prosthetic make-up” during filming.
“Did that help or hinder [you]?” Norton asked, with Fraser replying: “Help, absolutely.”
He explained: “It was designed with the rules that it would obey gravity and physics. It was appropriately heavy and that really made the experience of playing the part, I think, a lot closer to what it would be like to live in a body of a man that size, for me personally.
“Because when it came off, I could still feel an undulation. You know when you get the feeling when you step off a boat onto a dock, you’re kind of in vertigo? I think what that was was just showing me that it’s still with me.”
Fraser continued: “It also let me know that, to be a person that size, you really have to be very strong, physically and emotionally. And I grew to appreciate that by having played this part.”
Last month, director Aronofsky defended The Whale from critics who said it was fatphobic.
“Actors have been using makeup since the beginning of acting – that’s one of their tools,” he said.
“People with obesity are generally written as bad guys or as punchlines. We wanted to create a fully worked-out character who has bad parts about him and good parts about him; Charlie is very selfish, but he’s also full of love and is seeking forgiveness. So [the controversy] makes no sense to me.”
The Whale is released in UK cinemas on 3 February.