TIFF 2022: Brendan Fraser wins six-minute ovation, Oscar buzz continues as 'The Whale' makes a splash in Toronto

Brendan Fraser attends the TIFF Tribute Awards at Fairmont Royal York Hotel during the Toronto International Film Festival, Sunday Sept. 11, 2022, in Toronto. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP) (Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)

Brendan Fraser brought us back to his teenage roots in Toronto after the screening of his film The Whale at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), when he accepted his TIFF Tribute Award on Sunday night.

“I think that the last time that I waited to hear my name called aloud to receive an award was in Grade 4 and it was from the peewee bowling league,” Fraser said at Sunday's gala. “It was a little cup…and it had the words ‘high game handicap’ engraved on it and to this day, I still don’t know what that means,...also engraved on the plaque was the name ‘Brian Fosher.’”

Following a six-minute standing ovulation for The Whale at the Venice International Film Festival, Fraser looked emotional as he received a lengthy and heartfelt ovation in Toronto as well.

In The Whale, Fraser plays Charlie, an English professor with severe obesity who attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink).

The Whale, it’s a redemption story about a guy called Charlie and he’s gone through significant life changes, and he’s forgotten about who he is to the ones he loves and he’s running out of time to tell them that, if he can at all. But he has a superpower, Charlie can see the good in others when they can’t see that in themselves and he can bring that out in them.Brendan Fraser, lead actor in 'The Whale'

“I am a firm believer that we need a little bit more of that in this world because it’s the audience that gives cinema life. So I must thank you for keeping me in the job that I love because it’s nice work if you can get it.”

Brendan Fraser in
Brendan Fraser in "The Whale" (Courtesy of TIFF)

'Something about that stayed with me'

When it came to finding the right actor to take on this role, director Darren Aronofsky stressed following the film’s TIFF screening that casting Brendan Fraser came down to a “gut feeling.”

“It took a long time to find the right actor,” Aronofsky said. “With Brendan, it was purely the connection of seeing him as a human being, meeting him, getting an energy from him, it was such a deep gut feeling.”

When asked what he learned taking in this role, that’s rightfully already getting Oscar buzz, it’s clear this film had a significant impact on Fraser.

“I learned that to play a person, a corporeal being, such as Charlie is, that you need to be an incredibly strong individual to be that man, because at the end of the day I can take the apparatus off, and while I felt a bit of dizziness, something about that stayed with me until we came back and did it the next day, and even for maybe about some time after we finished the film too,” Fraser said.

“I learned that when you just invest everything you can and give it what you’ve got as if it’s the first and last time you ever will again, something important can come of that.”