Brendan Fraser made a remarkable comeback on the big screen via the psychological drama, The Whale.
The 54-year old actor played Charlie, a 600-pound reclusive English teacher who tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter for one last chance of redemption.
Fraser, who suddenly stopped acting at the height of his career in the mid-2000, won best actor at the 2023 Critics Choice Awards beating out Austin Butler (Elvis), Tom Cruise (Top Gun: Maverick), Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin), Paul Mescal (Aftersun), and Bill Nighy (Living).
The actor delivered an emotional acceptance speech, thanking the Critics Choice Association and his director in The Whale, Darren Aronofsky.
"It was Herman Melville who once wrote that there are only five critics in America — the rest are asleep. I don't know what it means, either, but I'm sure glad you woke up for me. Where were you for Furry Vengeance?
"The Whale is about love. It's about redemption. It's about finding the light in a dark place, and I'm so lucky to have worked with an ensemble that is incredible and includes Hong Chau, who should have her own movie based on every character she has ever played. And Sadie Sink, I’ve been telling everyone she’s incredible. … And Ty Simpkins, you won a game ball every day, and writer Sam Hunter, you’re my lighthouse.
"And Darren Aronofsky, I was in the wilderness — and I probably should've left a trail of breadcrumbs — but you found me, and like all the best directors, you merely just showed me where to go to get me where I needed to be.
"If you — like Charlie, who I played in this movie — in any way, struggle with obesity, or you just feel like you're in a dark sea, I want you to know that if you, too, can have the strength to just get to your feet and go to the light, good things will happen."
Fraser's commitment to The Whale earned him multiple award nods, including a Golden Globe nomination. He is also a leading contender in the Oscar race for best actor.
Last January 5, Fraser received the Spotlight Award at the Palm Springs International Film Awards for The Whale. He has also enjoyed multiple-minute standing ovations at various film festivals. He has so far won 19 best actor awards for The Whale.
Talking to PEOPLE, Fraser said: "It's been gratifying, it's been eye-opening. It has made me have a sense of accomplishment by way of seeing how this story is changing people's hearts and minds.
"That's gratifying, to say at least, and that kind of opportunity does not come along in this circus show of show business that we all play along with sometimes."
"But when it does, and it's material that's handled with care and the project comforts itself in a way that's interesting and important, I feel very fortunate and lucky to be a part of it."
The American-Canadian actor known for 1992 breakthrough role in the comedy film Encino Man, and the drama School Ties, became a global box-office star via the comedy George of the Jungle (1997) and the action-thriller-comedy The Mummy trilogy (1999-2008). He also delivered critically-acclaimed performances in the films Gods and Monsters (1998), The Quiet American (2002), and Crash (2004).
Fraser also starred in The Scout, Airheads, With Honors, Mrs. Winterbourne, Bedazzled, Dudley Do-Right, Monkeybone, Blast From The Past; Looney Tunes: Back In Action; Extraordinary Measures, Furry Vengence, Inkheart, and Journey To The Center Of The Earth.
The Cornish College graduate suddenly slowed down working from late 2000s to mid 2010s due to health problems, personal losses, and fallout from a sexual assault allegedly committed against him by Philip Berk, the then-president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
He returned to acting in 2015 appearing on the History miniseries Texas Rising. It was followed up by the Showtime drama, The Affair, in 2016,; FX series Trust in 2018; and the HBO Max-DC Universe series Doom Patrol in 2019.
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