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Brendan Fraser Brings Audience to Tears with Emotional Acceptance Speech for 'The Whale': "I Was in the Wilderness"

On January 15, Brendan Fraser won the Best Actor award for his incredible performance in 'The Whale' at the 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images/Emma McIntyre
Cover Image Source: Getty Images/Emma McIntyre

Accepting the Best Actor Award for The Whale at the 2023 Critics Choice Awards, Brendan Fraser emotionally addressed the crowd with a powerful speech. “Thank you for this honor, Critics Choice Association,” the 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.”

“Where were you for 'Furry Vengeance'?” he jokingly added, drawing laughter from the audience. “This movie is about love, redemption, and finding the light in a dark place. I was so lucky to have worked with an ensemble that is incredible," Fraser said before praising his co-star Hong Chau for her “incredible” performances. He also gave a shout-out to co-stars Sadie Sink and Ty Simpkins.


Fraser also thanked director Darren Aronofsky for casting him in the highly praised role. "I was in the wilderness and I probably should have left a trail of breadcrumbs, but you found me," he said. In The Whale, Fraser portrays an English teacher confined to his home due to extreme obesity, struggling to mend his relationship with his daughter.


His character Charlie, a 600-pound teacher, desperately attempts to make amends with his distant daughter, Ellie (Sink). Fraser has received widespread praise for his return to the screen in this role. He concluded his acceptance speech with a powerful message to those who identify with Charlie. “If you can relate to Charlie in any way, whether it is dealing with obesity or feeling lost in a dark place, remember that if you find the strength to get up and reach for the light, good things will happen," he said.


Backstage, he was almost at a loss for words describing the movie, saying that it meant “more than I know how to say with words.” When asked about the making of it, 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 was also nominated for best lead performance at the Gotham Awards and best actor at the Golden Globes for his part in Aronofsky's movie. He is also a front-runner in the Oscar race for best actor.

Image Source: Getty Images/Emma McIntyre
Image Source: Getty Images/Emma McIntyre

Competing with the likes of Austin Butler, who recently won the Golden Globe for Best Drama Actor, Fraser reflected that the movie is about "discovering the light even in dark times" and offered encouragement to anyone experiencing emotional hardship.

The 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards was broadcast live from the Fairmont Century Plaza on January 15. Chelsea Handler was the host of the event. Jeff Bridges was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award and Janelle Monáe was rewarded with the SeeHer Award. 

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