Brendan Fraser shared a powerful message while holding back tears as he accepted the award for best actor The Whale at the 2023 Critics Choice Awards.
“Thank you for this honor, Critic’s Choice Association,” The Mummy actor said. “It was Herman Melville who once wrote that ‘there are only five critics in America. The rest are asleep.’ … I’m so glad you woke up for me.” He then joked, adding, “Where were you for Furry Vengeance?” drawing laughter from the audience.
“This movie, The Whale, is about love. It’s about redemption. It’s about … finding the light in a dark place,” he said as he continued to show his admiration for his fellow cast members and crew. “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 [director] Darren Aronofsky, I was in the wilderness and I probably should have left a trail of breadcrumbs, but you found me. And like all the best directors, you merely showed me where to go to get to where I needed to be.”
In the film, Fraser plays Charlie, a 600-pound teacher who tries to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter, Ellie (Sink), for one last opportunity at redemption.
As he held back tears, Fraser, who has been praised for his performance in the career comeback role, concluded his speech with an emotional message, saying, “If you, like a guy 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.”
Backstage, he was almost speechless talking about the film, saying it meant “more than I know how to say with words.” When asked about what it meant to make the film, he added that it was “an act of faith. We all approached this piece as if it would be the first and last time that we would ever have the privilege to be able to do this work ever again each day. And I think that this movie can help do a lot of good.”
In addition to the Critics Choice Award, Fraser has collected nominations for best lead performance from the Gotham Awards and best actor from the Golden Globes for his role in Aronofsky’s film. He is also a leading contender in the Oscar race for best actor.
The 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards, hosted by Chelsea Handler, aired live on The CW from the Fairmont Century Plaza on Sunday night.
Also during the show, Jeff Bridges received the Lifetime Achievement Award and Janelle Monáe accepted the SeeHer Award. The full list of winners at the Critics Choice Awards can be found here.
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