Brendan Fraser praised his award-winning film The Whale for its portrayal of obesity, saying it has never been done “in this way.”

Fraser, 54, has already won a Golden Globe and Critics Choice award for his portrayal of Charlie, a 600-pound gay man in the film directed by Darren Aronofsky. But some critics and body image advocates have slammed the movie for its use of a fat suit, with many arguing the role should have gone to an obese actor.

In a recent interview with Saturday Night Live alumni David Spade and Dana Carvey on their podcast Fly On the Wall, the actor argued in favor of the film’s portrayal of people with obesity.

brendan fraser on red carpet
Above, Brendan Fraser walks the red carpet at the 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards on January 15, 2023, in Los Angeles, California. Fraser spoke out about having to wear a fat suit to play the leading role in “The Whale” during an interview on former SNL stars David Spade and Dana Carvey’s podcast.
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Filmmagic

Wayne’s World star Carvey said to Fraser about the film, “there’s never been a movie that explored people who suffer from obesity,” to which Fraser replied: “not in this way.”

He also spoke of the experience of trying on the prosthetics for the first time and how Aronofsky told him the moment would be with him for the rest of his life.

“You can’t really divorce yourself from me creating this character for better or worse,” Fraser said, explaining Aronofsky’s comment.

Fraser told the two comedians about his inspirations for the character of Charlie, which included John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

“Do you recall when…he was deriding him and he says, ‘Go ahead you can, I’m a big guy. You [can] take a shot at me…But I like me. My wife likes me…I’m good enough.’ I mean, and he looked like he was going to crack in that moment,” Fraser said.

“And he probably was. And it was a beautiful piece of acting right there. And I don’t think we’ve seen that kind of sensitivity attached to owning who you are when you live in a larger body like that.”

Spade said that while watching the film, he forgot that Fraser was wearing prosthetics because his performance so overcame him.

Fraser replied: “That’s the hope because in absence of it, you know, being a success with our finely tuned brain seeing makeup vs. CGI creations, and you can tell where the dotted lines are and you automatically go, ‘Eh…You have to make a decision about the suspension of belief. I’ll let that one slide.’ But with this, it was a straight-ahead analog makeup.”

He added: “With the exception of maybe a light, digital curative…We’d fix that later. Or there was a scene when on the bib sort of shape on the collar when Charlie goes down the hallway to go to bed, he takes his shirt off and that was the full suit. It was very heavy…anyway, apart from that, what you see was what you got.

“But if it didn’t work, there was no movie. And the rule was this is a makeup and costume that will obey the laws of physics and gravity. It will not be what we’ve seen so frequently,” he said about fat suits made from foam used in Hollywood.

Fraser has defended his casting in the role, telling Newsweek in October that he’s “not a small man.”

“I’m not a small man. And I don’t know what the metric is to qualify to play the role. I only know that I had to give as honest a performance as I can,” he said.

Based Samuel D. Hunter’s 2012 play The Whale, the story follows Charlie as he tries to reconnect with his teenage daughter (played by Sadie Sink) who he abandoned in childhood to be with his gay lover.

Hunter also wrote the screenplay for the film which is expected get Fraser his first Oscar nomination this year.

newsweek