Brendan Fraser won acclaim playing a 600-pound gay man in director Darron Aronofsky’s The Whale, which received a six-minute standing ovation at the Venice International Film Festival. He has lined up high profile roles coming soon, but there is one role that was recently taken away from him. Fraser was set to play the arsonist villain Firefly in the DC film Batgirl, but the film was surprisingly scrapped in August due to a change in management at Warner Bros. Discovery.
Fraser already plays Robot Man/stuntman Cliff Steele on HBO Max’s Doom Patrol, another comic book adaptation entering its fourth season. Recently, the actor opened up about the disappointment he felt after losing the role and the film’s cancellation.
“It’s tragic. It doesn’t engender trust between the filmmakers and the studio. Leslie Grace was fantastic. He’s a dynamo, just a perfect performer,” he said. “Everything we shot was real and exciting and it was just the antithesis of doing a simple all-green digital screen. They had fire engines driving through Glasgow city center at 3 a.m. and they had flamethrowers. It was a big budget movie, but it was stripped down to the bare essentials.”
Fraser and Aronofsky now have something in common with the latter’s attempt over 20 years ago to make a tough Batman movie based on Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s best-selling and iconic Batman: Year One. Aronofsky had introduced actor Wes Bentley as a young Bruce Wayne trying to find himself as his trajectory led him to become the Batman. The costumes were even designed by comic artist David Williams, but the studio said no and obviously went in a much different direction.
“It was right after Batman and Robin,” the director said. “It had been a big deal at the time at Warner Bros., so I presented them with a summarized, R-rated origin story of Batman. An R-rated superhero movie was probably off 10-15 years with The reality of It was promising, but it was just a first draft. The studio wasn’t really interested. It was a very different approach.
With Joker being the highest-grossing R-rated film in history, things have changed since then, as the studio viewed previous Batman films as something to sell toys, with Batman and Robin being the most toyetic, but also helped usher in the Nolanverse for Batman.
The Whale will have a wide release in the United States on December 9.
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