How ‘The Whale’ prosthetics blaze new trails with expertise

Darren Aronofsky’s frequent collaborator Adrien Morot has earned his second Oscar nomination (shared with make-up division head Judy Chin and hair artist Annemarie Bradley) for growing and fabricating “The Whale’s” weight-gain prosthetic. The achievement goes past make-up: The progressive silicone go well with is arguably as a lot part of Charlie, the movie’s central, 600-pound character, as Brendan Fraser’s uncooked, sympathetic efficiency within the function.

Morot has performed make-up results for director Aronofsky’s “Mother!,” “Noah” and “The Fountain”; he acquired his earlier nomination for “Barney’s Version” and constructed the present horror hit “M3GAN’s” title animatronic. For “Whale,” he employed digital sculpting and 3-D printing to extents beforehand remarkable in his historically hand-modeled area. Now L.A.-based, Morot had been experimenting with the applied sciences in his hometown Montreal studio for a while earlier than COVID hit.

Soon after, Aronofsky referred to as.

“Nobody was working so we could isolate a little group together and film ‘The Whale,’ which happens in just one apartment and could be shot in five weeks,” Morot remembers the filmmaker enthusing. “I was like, OK, this was the time to do it. I didn’t have physical access to the actor to do a normal life casting, so let’s do that digitally. It’s a small movie; if it doesn’t go well, nobody’s going to hear about it!”

Makeup artist Adrien Morot digitally sculpts make-up over a scan of Brendan Fraser’s head.

(/Courtesy of A24)

He could make that joke now, however Morot was decided to create one of the best, most sensible weight-gain prosthetic ever filmed. For reference, he put collectively a financial institution of on-line images of individuals with weight problems. Then he checked different film make-up artists’ work, and was quite appalled.

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“Almost systematically, those kind of makeups were either done in comedies where the character was the butt of a joke — ‘Nutty Professor,’ ‘Shallow Hal’ — or it’s in a sci-fi/horror movie,” Morot says. “I thought it was crazy to treat those characters like that. Obviously, this movie is trying to treat the subject with empathy, care and acuity.”

Makeup artists work on actor Brendan Fraser to turn him into the character of Charlie for "The Whale."

Adrien Morot provides a little bit of glue to the Charlie facial equipment on Brendan Fraser, whereas Annemarie Bradley-Sherron types his hair.

(NIKO TAVERNISE/Courtesy of A24)

Though nicely conscious of complaints concerning the movie that vary from how Charlie’s situation is depicted to why an actor of bigger measurement wasn’t solid, Morot says he “can’t imagine anybody else doing a better job at conveying the range of emotions required in that script than Brendan did. My only job was to do my part as accurately and respectfully as I can.”

Instead of utilizing the make-up artist’s traditional clay, Morot sculpted the physique go well with on laptop over a scan of Fraser that an affiliate had made within the actor’s New York storage. Positives of the digital physique components with and with out the sculptures on them had been 3-D printed in resin that was cured, layer by microscopic layer, with ultraviolet gentle. Then silicone was injected between adverse casts of the sculptures and the positives, which yielded the very realistic-looking prosthetics that composed the go well with.

The silicone additionally moved like human flesh. It bore the load of water too.

“I opened up the mold and was like, ‘This looks great!’” Morot says. “‘A silicone suit! Never been done before!’ Then I took the skin off the positive, it flopped on the floor. I lifted it up and was like, ‘Jesus Christ, what was I thinking?’ It was so heavy.”

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The torso part, the truth is, needed to be constructed out of froth latex so it wouldn’t crush Fraser.

An obese man sits in a chair in a scene from "The Whale"

Brendan Fraser wears an intricately crafted weight-gain go well with, which was created starting with a laser printer, in “The Whale.”


“The full body — with the arms, the legs, the torso — was close to 200 pounds,” Morot says of the completed contraption. “In some places, the body was 2 ½ feet deep, so we needed to have a skin that was about a quarter of an inch thin and rest over a structure that needed to move like a real body.”

That understructure concerned rings of gelatinous, squishy Orbeez balls in a mixture of water and glycerin. The go well with then was clipped to a parachute-type harness Fraser wore, beneath which he had a cooling outfit that pumped chilly water by vinyl tubing.

It took 5 individuals to decorate Fraser from his ft as much as the highest of the again zipper every day he wore the complete go well with (when possible for the pictures, he wore simply the Orbeez sections beneath garments with photorealistic legs and arms clipped on). After a couple of weeks on the movie’s New York shoot, the make-up group acquired the entire course of, together with face and hair, right down to about 3 ½ hours.

A portrait of Brendan Fraser in a blue shirt, leaning his arms on a table.

Brendan Fraser, with out his Charlie make-up.

(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

One arm prosthetic was removable to allow Fraser to feed himself at lunch. And sure, the go well with had a toilet flap. But don’t assume that made issues simple.

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“If he needed to use the toilet, poor Brendan had to tell us 45 minutes in advance,” Morot says. “We needed to wheel him to our room, remove the arms, open the clasps at the bottom, put him back in the wheelchair and take him to the bathroom. It was an operation that needed four guys.”

No one ever stated that blazing new trails was simple.

“When I was doing all the tests in my Montreal shop, I thought all the real professionals out here or at Wētā were doing it too,” Morot says. “Then, as I was talking to my friends in L.A. or Richard Taylor in New Zealand about the 3-D printing prosthetics and stuff, everybody was like, ‘You’re doing what? How? Nobody does that!’ I think ‘The Whale’ is a perfect vehicle to bring it out, and hopefully people will remember [the process] in the future.”