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Brendan Fraser's performance in The Whale helped Freddie Prinze Jr. through fatherhood

“It made me want to be a better father,” Freddie Prinze Jr. says of Brendan Fraser's new film The Whale

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Brendan Fraser and Freddie Prinze Jr.
Brendan Fraser and Freddie Prinze Jr.
Image: The A.V. Club, Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Charley Gallay/Getty Images

Since early reviews first started landing, much of the discourse on Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale has surrounded its relationship to its main character: Charlie, an obese, homebound teacher grappling with the strained relationships in his life. But amid criticism and raves, recognition for Brendan Fraser’s tender and emotive performance hasn’t wavered—and now, Freddie Prinze Jr. is joining the choir.

In a new conversation with Fraser for Interview Magazine, Prinze Jr. lauds The Whale as “the single most beautiful piece of art,” sharing: “It hit me unlike anything ever hit me before.”

Part of that resonance, Prinze Jr. explains, comes from the realizations it led him to about navigating the most important relationships in his own life. Prinze Jr. has been married to his Scooby-Doo co-star Sarah Michelle Gellar since 2002—the couple shares two children.

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“[The Whale] made me want to be a better father. A better husband. A better friend,” he says. “It forces you to look inside yourself.”

While looking inward, Prinze says he didn’t only find inspiration to become a better father. He was also moved to grapple with his relationship with his own belated father, the actor Freddie Prinze Sr., who died from an accidental gunshot wound shortly after his son was born.

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“Listen, after watching this movie, even at 46 years old, there was a level of anger that I still had toward my father and the choices he made, and I don’t know how to say this the way I want to without breaking down completely, but I don’t hate him anymore,” Prinze Jr. tells Fraser. “I love him for every choice he made, the good ones and the bad ones. I don’t blame him for the way things played out.”

For his part, although Fraser admits he doesn’t actually share many of Charlie’s specific struggles, finding empathy for where Charlie’s heart lay wasn’t tough.

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“Being with my kids and their mom and our family has given me such love that if ever I needed to hold something of value up to try and translate that to what was important to Charlie, I didn’t have to look far,” Fraser muses.

The Whale premieres in theaters on December 9.