The Mummy star Brendan Fraser is set to make his big film acting comeback by playing Charlie, a 600-pound gay man in The Whale to be directed by Darren Aronofsky.
Based on a GLAAD Award-winning play, The Whale follows Charlie, a gay man who left his family for his lover. When that partner dies, Charlie tries to reconnect with his 17-year-old daughter.
We’re big fans of Fraser’s, and would love to see him back on the big screen, but do we really need another straight man playing a gay lead role? And do we need straight size actors playing 600-pound, fat characters? I, for one, do not want to see Fraser in a fat suit. And I don’t want to see a movie where a fat character is referred to as “the whale.” Surely there are talented fat actors, I’d even wager there are talented fat, gay actors.
Fraser’s casting comes at a time when the debate over straight actors playing gay roles is more heated than ever. Recently everyone from Henry Golding and Russell T. Davies, to Billy Eichner and Dan Levy have spoken out about the importance of casting gay actors as gay characers, especially lead characters.
"You wouldn’t cast someone able-bodied and put them in a wheelchair,” Davies recently said, “You wouldn’t Black someone up. Authenticity is leading us to joyous places.” It seems Aronofsky didn’t get the memo, as he’s not only casting a straight actor, but a non-fat one.
In a recent LA Times interview, Boys in The Band star Jim Parsons offered his opinion, saying that some of his favorite gay character are played by straight actors, but “I think the fight, as it were, is not about having only gay people play the gay parts but to ensure that all parts are open to all actors.”
Last year, Mean Girls star Daniel Franzese said that “gay bigger people are invisible” in Hollywood and that when he does get auditions, he’s never asked to audition for roles he would consider sexy. “There are a lot of shows on TV right now showing queer stuff, but they just don’t sexualize bigger gay men,” he said.
It’s time to make sure that fat gay actors have parts open to them. If we want to tell their stories, we’ve got to include the real life people we’re talking about.