James Corden almost played Brendan Fraser’s controversial gay role in The Whale

James Corden and Brendan Fraser wearing a fat suit

James Corden has revealed he was set to star in a version of The Whale with designer-turned-filmmaker Tom Ford directing.

Brendan Fraser plays Charlie, an obese, reclusive gay man who is desperate to reconnect with his daughter after the death of his partner in The Whale.

While Fraser is widely tipped for an Oscar nomination for the role, James Corden told Deadline: “I was going to play that part, and Tom Ford was going to direct.”

Ultimately didn’t happen because Ford wanted more complete control of the project, Corden said.

The chat show host added that he may have been too young to do the role justice.

Corden also revealed to Deadline that George Clooney briefly became involved with it the project, but only wanted to make the film if a 600-pound unknown actor could be found to play the lead role.

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This did not happen, with Fraser controversially donning a fat suit for the role.

A still from the movie The Whale showing actor Brendan Fraser as obese character Charlie wearing a black shirt
Brendan Fraser in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale. (A24)

According to Deadline, director Darren Aronofsky confirmed that James Corden had been linked to the role.

Aronofsky also recently responded to criticism of Fraser’s casting as a gay man, and of the film’s use of a fatsuit in an interview with Variety, claiming he and casting directors couldn’t find an obese actor who “could pull off the emotions of the role”. 

“There was a chapter in the making of this film where we tried to research actors with obesity,” Aronofsky said. 

He continued: “Outside of not being able to find an actor who could pull off the emotions of the role, it just becomes a crazy chase. Like, if you can’t find a 600-pound actor, is a 300-pound actor or 400-pound actor enough?”

Aronofsky explained there were also concerns from a “health perspective” that an actor with severe obesity would struggle to keep up with the demands of filming and production. 

“It’s an impossible role to fill with a real person dealing with those issues,” Aronofsky said.

Brendan Fraser wears a suit and tie at an event for The Whale
The Whale has been criticised for casting a straight actor to play the gay character at the centre of the film and have Brendan Fraser wear prosthetics. (Getty)

The director added that he “just needed the right actor for the role” and that it’s “amazing to see how people respond” to Fraser on screen. 

“I think they’re going to be impressed by how the same actor who played all those honest, innocent characters back then is portraying this complicated, messed-up person,” he said.

James Corden has a fraught relationship with the LGBTQ+ community.

He came under fire for his performance of a gay man, Barry Glickman, in Netflix’s 2020 musical The Prom, and consistently uses kissing men as a punchline.

Mel B also called him one of the “biggest d**khead” celebrities.