Mummy star Brendan Fraser has gained a staggering amount of weight for his next film, The Whale. He did this to portray a middle-aged man’s descent into obesity (Stranger Things’ Sadie Sink will play his estranged daughter).
raser has clarified that his transformation into morbid obesity is not solely due to increasing his caloric intake. He will also benefit from prosthetics and a fat suit. Nonetheless, he did everything he could to live up to the role.
This will be controversial and likely to be a topic of conversation in both the film and Fraser’s career — but then whale Director Darren Aronofsky is no stranger to divided opinions. After all, he’s only just recovered from the outcry over his quirky 2017 film Mother!. That was a confrontational dark fantasy with his then-girlfriend Jennifer Lawrence, who found all sorts of shocking ways to tell us that if God exists, maybe he’s not a feminist.
Aronofsky also knows quite a bit about guiding actors through extreme body transformations. It was for his Oscar-winning 2010 psychological horror The Swan that both Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman did a “reverse Brendan Fraser” and dropped several stones.
Kunis later revealed her unique method for doing this. “I didn’t starve myself,” she said in 2016. “I did it in the healthiest way possible. I’m not promoting it at all – but I used to be a smoker. And so I smoked a lot of cigarettes and ate a limited amount of calories.”
Extreme Transformation is a product of the golden age of “New Hollywood” in the 1970’s. This era gave cinema such gloomy masterpieces as The Godfather, taxi driver, dog day afternoon and The Exorcist (which went places no contemporary horror film would go, leaving viewers swooning in the aisles).
This period of cinema history was more or less obliterated by war of stars and Jaw. One aspect that endured, however, was the cult of body transformation. It must have started with Marlon Brando changing his appearance The Godfather by covering his mouth with cotton wool. However, Robert De Niro catalyzed the idea of physically recreating himself for a role in Scorsese’s 1980 masterpiece. wild bull.
The role required De Niro to play boxer Jake LaMotta, both at the peak of his career and when he had come to seed and cultivated a belly and many chins. De Niro duly learned to box and fought like a world champion. Production was then halted for four months and the actor was sent on a binge-eating vacation, during which he traveled to northern Italy and France and stocked up on pizza, ice cream and cheese.
De Niro would describe it wild bull as the toughest role of his career. However, he felt he had to commit to the transformation after seeing LaMotta on the street and being impressed by how far he let himself go.
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“I said, ‘Jesus, look at what happened to him.’ And I found the graphic difference between being out of shape and then being a young fighter really interesting,” he told the Hollywood reporter. “I thought I’d like to see if I could gain that weight. So that was my interest and Marty [Scorsese] had his reasons and we both just got together on the project.” He returned after winning four stones. In doing so, he ignited an ongoing Hollywood obsession with bulking up and losing weight for a role.
Rapid weight gain or loss is bad for the body. And even the actors who regularly partake in these extreme measures have admitted it (it’s telling that De Niro never did it again). The once-and-future king of extreme transformation, Christian Bale has gone so far as to claim he put his own life on the line at the end of his dieting and binge eating bouts.
Bale had notoriously reduced himself to skin, bones and a haunted look The mechanic in 2004. He later acquired an actual fat suit to portray Dick Cheney in Adam McKay’s Joyless Vice. “I’ve gotten a little bit more boring now because I’m older and I feel like I’m going to die if I keep doing what I’ve done in the past,” Bale later said after extremely swearing off Body Transformation. “So I would prefer not to die.”
These reinventions take a mental and physical toll. However, some actors insist they had no choice but to go through the process to stay true to their role. By agreeing to play an AIDS patient Dallas Buyers ClubFor example, Matthew McConaughey felt he had an implicit commitment to losing weight. That was the only way to do justice to the character.
“It was my responsibility,” he said in 2020. “If I look like what I look like now and played Ron Woodroof Dallas Buyers Clubyou’re out of the movie in the first frame.”
Other stars have painted a grueling picture of what the process entails. Charlize Theron said she’s building up to play serial killer Aileen Wuornos monster was an ordeal. “The first three weeks are always fun because you’re like a kid in a candy store. So it was fun to have breakfast and two milkshakes at In-N-Out,” she explained.
“And then after three weeks it’s no longer fun. All of a sudden you’re just done eating so much and then it becomes a job. I remember having to set my alarm in the middle of the night just to keep going [the weight].”
But is the era of extreme transformation over? The fact that Fraser is complementing his makeover with a heavy suit suggests we’ve come quite a distance since then wild bull. And yet, 12 years away from Black Swan, Natalie Portman still had to build muscle to play Mighty Thor Thor: Love and Thunder.
And these changes are still often divisive. Footage of Emma Thompson wearing a heavy suit for the forthcoming Roald Dahl adaptation Mathilde, for example, sparked an angry online debate. Many on social media found her portrayal of a “fat” middle-aged woman to be dehumanizing — with the implication that weight was one of her defining characteristics.
Others wondered why, if the production called for an actress of a certain size, they didn’t just hire someone who fit the requirements – instead of having Thompson artificially massaged. “I can’t believe anyone would agree to putting a skinny person in that costume Matilda The Musical‘ wrote Amanda Levitt, tweeting at FatBodyPolitics. “The original was fatphobic enough, but now they’ve put Emma Thompson in a fat suit.”
The real change we’re waiting for seems to be in Hollywood’s attitude towards extreme weight fluctuations and the real-life appearance of its stars.
For now, however, this is a bad habit that the industry is reluctant to break.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/movies/movie-news/are-extreme-hollywood-body-transformations-like-brendan-frasers-ever-worth-it-41875293.html Are extreme Hollywood body transformations like Brendan Fraser’s ever worth it?