In a film season marked by drama, spit-takes, and “movies that feel like movies” (will we ever stop worrying, darling?), very few new entries have been able to escape the endless cycle of discourse. Least of all Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, which stars Brendan Fraser as a 600-pound English teacher and has divided critics and fans since it premiered (to a six-minute standing ovation) at the Venice International Film Festival earlier this month.
Daniel Franzese, who played the iconic candy-cane king Damian in Mean Girls, voiced his own thoughts and nicely summed up both sides of this controversy in a recent interview with People. “I love Brendan Fraser, [so] I’m very conflicted,” he said. “Seeing him get up so modest in Venice and have that moment, I was very happy for him. He’s a lovely man. And it’s great. But why? Why go up there and wear a fat suit to play a 400-lb. queer man?”
Franzese specifically cited the lack of representation that he and his fellow “big queer guys” have historically faced in this industry. “To finally have a chance to be in a prestige film that might be award-nominated, where stories about people who look like us are being told? That’s the dream,” he said. “So when they go time and time again and cast someone like Brendan Fraser...we’re like, ‘What the ... ?’ We can’t take it!”
He continued: “But I guess you can go ahead and wear a fat suit and do what you got to do and get your Oscar. We’ll just sit here, waiting.”
In the meantime, Franzese is learning more about himself as the fabulous Donna Bellissima on RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race. As he recently told The Houston Chronicle, drag “made me face things that I think I was uncomfortable facing... It was interesting to be in a place where I could push my femininity to as far as it could go and celebrate that and see how that goes.”
Still, roles like Fraser’s in The Whale are the actor’s bread and butter. As he asked, “I mean, who knows more about being an obese queer man than an obese queer man?”