The Montreal-born makeup artist for The Whale wins an Oscar with Brendan Fraser

Adrien Morot, the Montreal-born makeup artist on The Whale, says his first Oscar wouldn’t mean so much if his friend Brendan Fraser didn’t get away with hardware of his own.

“If I had won and Brendan hadn’t, in a way I would have felt like I failed in the film,” Morot said Tuesday at his Los Angeles studio after painting a pair of prosthetic hands and feet for another project .

“The make-up would have become a formality – this is a film with heart and it’s a film about the achievements of all the actors, great direction by Darren Aronofsky, and sharing the Oscar with Brendan means the world.”

Morot won best makeup and hairstyling at Sunday night’s Oscars for his work on The Whale, alongside makeup artist Judy Chin and hairstylist Annemarie Bradley.

Meanwhile, Fraser, who was born in the United States to Canadian parents, won Best Actor for his role as Charlie, a reclusive and morbidly obese English teacher who is trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter.

To create the character’s appearance, the prosthetics team glued several thick pieces of silicone to Fraser’s face and body before applying makeup.

While The Whale won awards, the film was also criticized for the decision to put Fraser in a fat suit and for its portrayal of Charlie and his weight, which some critics have called fatphobic.

Morot acknowledged the complaints, saying that while he foresaw the negative reaction during production, as a professional with decades of experience, he was driven only by his mission.

“I have no political agenda at all. I just want to do my job as well as possible and meet the demands that are placed on me,” said Morot.

He’s also proud that his makeup and prosthetics work resonated with the academy and audiences for fulfilling the function it was meant to perform.

“The makeup did its job of portraying the emotional character that needed to be on screen, but it didn’t steal the show from Brendan and allowed Brendan to shine through the pieces of rubber taped to his face.” , said Moroth. “My goal in creating the character makeup is to give Brendan a tool to freely portray Charlie the way he wanted.”

Morot described the prosthetic design process as “super demanding” but necessary to help the actor empathize with the character’s mindset. Morot also wanted to acknowledge two other members of the team – Kathy Tse and Chris Gallaher, who weren’t on the Oscar ticket but helped him apply.

Although cosmetic computer-generated effects are coveted in films and capable of changing the way actors appear on screen, Morot said wearing the suit in this case helped Fraser understand how Charlie moves and feels.

“Yes, it might be easier for an actor not to have to get up at 2 a.m. to get to the film set and apply makeup, but they also don’t have the tools to create the performance,” Morot said. “You wouldn’t get that with special effects and that’s just a truth.”

For example, Morot said Fraser was given a lightweight version of the suit earlier in the filming process versus a heavier version rated at 250 pounds, but he chose the heavier design to help him understand Charlie better.

“Aronofsky asked me to come up with a design that not only looks authentic, but he said, ‘I want you to help Brendan perform,'” Morot said. “Back then we created something with the weight of a real person of that size.

“I’ve been doing this job for over 30 years and I’m really a stoic guy and unemotional on set, but twice, on this film set, I had tears in my eyes watching Brendan act,” Morot said. “He really owned this job.”

The Whale is Morot’s fifth collaboration with Aronofsky following Mother!, Noah, The Fountain and White Boy Rick.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on March 15, 2023.


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