Sadie Sink and Hong Chau talk about making The Whale |  Digital trends

Sadie Sink and Hong Chau talk about making The Whale | Digital trends

At Darren Aronofsky’s The whale, Brendan Fraser plays Charlie, a reclusive English teacher living with severe obesity. Charlie’s illness limits his ability to move around his apartment, so he relies on his friend, Liz (The menu‘s Hong Chau), to be her nurse and caretaker. After a serious health complication, Charlie realizes his time is running out and tries to reconnect with his daughter, Ellie (stranger things star Sadie Sink).

Based on Samuel D. Hunter’s play of the same name, The whale is a heartbreaking portrayal of regret and grief as a father attempts to make amends with his daughter, the one person he truly cares about. The whale challenges the audience to find empathy and love in flawed characters. In an interview with Digital Trends, Sink and Chau describe their filming experience The whale and work with Fraser.

To note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Digital Trends: Ellie comes off as this angry teenager who clearly hates her dad. She is full of anxiety. As the movie progresses, you start to see that there are a lot more layers to this character. How were you able to find and showcase Ellie’s humanity?

Sadie Sink: Ellie is someone who is in a lot of pain, and that pain kind of manifests itself in these self-destructive coping mechanisms. And she, I think, is someone who finds power and control by scaring people. Her relationship with Charlie – I think Charlie is that person that she just built up as that villainous figure in her life. And when that turns out to be wrong, I think it becomes one of the most confusing moments of his life. And that’s kind of what we see throughout the film, [and] throughout this last week that she has with him.

Sadie Sink looks at the camera in The Whale.

On the other hand, Liz is a funny and sarcastic character. One moment she’s joking with Charlie, and the next she’s crying on his shoulder. Hong, how could you go back and forth with these emotions so quickly throughout the film?

Hong Chau: I credit the writing. I think Sam Hunter crafted a great story, and in the larger story the individual scenes take you on such a roller coaster ride where like you said the scene will start one way and end d in a completely unexpected way. So it’s really Sam Hunter’s gift for writing and creating such complex and intricate characters and situations.

The Whale | Official HD Trailer | A24

Do you think Liz feels guilty for contributing to some of Charlie’s harmful behavior?

Hot : You know, it’s a very complicated relationship between Liz and Charlie. They have a lot of history. I thought everything she did seemed really fair to me because if it’s easy for you to say no to someone or shut them out of your life because they don’t experience it the way you think he should, so this relationship probably wasn’t very deep to begin with. They have a very deep relationship, and when you’re in a real one, true relationship, you lean for people.

Your two characters spend the majority of the scenes alongside Brendan. We can start with you, Sadie. What is the thing that marked Brendan during the filming?

Sink: I think there were times when he was Charlie. He was that character, and he just put 100% of himself into that role, and so it felt so real at times. I think, especially once we started filming and we got out of rehearsal time, and we were fully into it, and he was into the prosthetics, there was this overall energy that just changed .

And it was because of Brendan and the way he plays Charlie. He’s so connected all the time and so kind and generous to his stage partners. It’s something I’m so grateful for and it made everything feel so natural.

Hong Chau sits and watches a scene from The Whale.
(L – R) Hong Chau / Courtesy of A24

Hong, did anything surprise you about Brendan during this process?

Hot : Oh my God. I was blown away by his kindness every day on set. One of my insecurities as an actor is working with props. I’m not coordinated or athletic, so whenever I have to deal with props, I become like butter fingers.

And there was one day in particular where I had to adjust the oxygen on Charlie, and oh, my God, I just… [Laughs] I was struggling, and Brendan was so patient and so kind, and I think that’s just it. He’s just an absolute sweetheart as a human being and also generous as an actor.

The whale is in select theaters now and will expand nationwide later this month.

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