Brendan Fraser’s The Whale Nearly Starred James Corden Instead


Brendan Fraser’s comeback movie The Whale nearly starred James Corden instead, with The Late Late Show host reflecting on losing the role.

Though the Mummy star’s performance is being considered Oscars worthy, Brendan Fraser nearly wasn’t the lead of The Whale as James Corden was set to star. The film acts as an adaptation of Samuel D. Hunter’s play of the same name revolving around 600-pound, middle-aged English teacher Charlie as he attempts to reconnect with his teenage daughter after leaving her and her mom years before for his now-dead gay lover. The Whale is widely being hailed as Fraser’s comeback movie, namely for his acclaimed central performance, though the film nearly saw a very different face leading the charge.


In a recent interview with Deadline, James Corden revealed he nearly starred in The Whale instead of Brendan Fraser. The Late Late Show host explained that he was lined up to star as the 600-pound English teacher played by Fraser, with Nocturnal Animals‘ Tom Ford set to direct, though the project ultimately fell apart as Ford wanted more “complete control” of the film. Though Corden admits to feeling he may have been “too young” to play the part, he also reveals that George Clooney had been in talks at one point to helm The Whale, though his desire to cast an actual 600-pound unknown actor proved to be “too much.”

Related: Yes, Brendan Fraser’s The Whale Performance Really Is That Good

Why Fraser Was The Perfect Choice For The Whale

Brendan Fraser sitting in a room in The Whale.

Interestingly, Darren Aronofsky has opened up about his difficulties in developing The Whale, stating that he had run into a creative block for a decade before catching Fraser in a trailer for the Brazilian crime thriller Journey to the End of the Night, believing him to be the perfect choice for the role. Though he has found plenty of success on both the big and small screens with the likes of Into the Woods, Peter Rabbit and The Late Late Show, Corden has almost exclusively focused his acting in the comedic genre, namely with outlandish supporting characters rather than compelling leads. Even Corden’s sole Golden Globe nomination for Ryan Murphy’s The Prom was met with a lot of division for its perpetuation of gay stereotypes, only made worse by his being a straight man playing a gay character.

Casting against type is a risky decision that sometimes proves worthwhile in the film world, as evidenced by the likes of Adam Sandler’s manic turn in Uncut Gems, Tom Cruise’s villainous performance in Collateral and Steve Carrell’s horrifying work in Foxcatcher, among others. However, there are about as many failed attempts to cast an actor against their normal type as there are successes, as seen with such performances as Vince Vaughn in Gus Van Sant’s Psycho remake and Mark Wahlberg in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening, among others. While it’s not clear the timeline of when Corden had been eyed to star in The Whale, his lack of any major attempts at the world of drama throughout his filmography make it difficult to see him as a serious contender for someone to have brought the central character to life.

Fraser, on the other hand, has shown plenty of range in his acting career leading up to starring in The Whale and garnering Oscar buzz for his performance. Though better known to some for his work in such blockbuster productions as The Mummy trilogy and George of the Jungle, Fraser lent his talents to plenty of modest dramatic works, namely 1998’s Gods and Monsters, for which he was considered to have been snubbed an Oscar nomination alongside his costars Ian McKellen and Lynn Redgrave, but regardless of the scale, he always captured the humanity and empathy of his various characters. It’s this attention to character detail that were vital to making Charlie work in The Whale, and Fraser’s Golden Globe nomination and Oscar buzz shows he was the perfect choice to capture as sympathetic a character as his.

Next: The Whale Cast & Character GuideSource: Deadline


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