Brendan Fraser was named Best Actor at the 2023 Oscars.
The Whale star, 54, emerged victorious in what was widely considered a close race, beating out Austin Butler (Elvis), Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin), Paul Mescal (Aftersun) and Bill Nighy (Living).
Fraser began his speech with a quip: “So this is what the multiverse looks like.”
Fraser was visibly tearful and overwhelmed throughout his speech, thanking those who got him to the stage at Los Angeles’s Dolby Theatre.
“My goodness, I thank the Academy for this honor and for our studio A24 for making such a bold film. I’m grateful to [director] Darren Aronofsky for throwing me a creative lifeline and hauling me aboard the good ship The Whale,” he said. “It was written by Samuel D. Hunter, who is our lighthouse.”
Speaking to his fellow nominees, Fraser acknowledged how they “laid [their] whale-sized hearts bare so that we can see into your souls like no one else could do.” He also called it his “honor” to be nominated alongside them. He then gave a special shout-out to one of his costars before continuing on, saying, “Only whales can swim at the depth of the talent of Hong Chau.”
“I started in this business 30 years ago, and things, they didn’t come easily to me, but there was a facility that I didn’t appreciate at the time, until it stopped. And I just want to say thank you for this acknowledgement. Because it couldn’t be done without my cast,” he said.
“It’s been like I’ve been on a diving expedition to the bottom of the ocean,” he continued, “and the air on the line [has come from] some people in my life like my sons Holden and Leland and Griffin — I love you Griffey, my manager JoAnne Colonna, [my publicist] Jennifer Plante and my best first mate Jeanne [Moore].”
Fraser concluded, “Thank you again, each one and all. I’m so grateful to you. Goodnight.”
Fraser’s big night comes after numerous other wins for his role as a 600-lb. man who reconciles himself to the limits of his reclusive life over a period of five days in Aronofsky’s 2022 drama costarring Chau, Sadie Sink and Ty Simpkins.
The actor previously nabbed both a win at both the Critics Choice Awards and SAG Awards earlier this year, and was also nominated for a Golden Globe and BAFTA Award. He also also clinched the Spotlight Award at the Palm Springs International Film Awards in January.
“I never would have believed I would have been offered the role of my life in this character, Charlie in The Whale, he’s someone who is on a raft of regrets but he’s in a sea of hope,” the actor said last month in his SAG Awards acceptance speech, after recounting that he first received his SAG-AFTRA card in 1991.
“I’ve been at that sea, and I’ve rode that wave lately and it’s been powerful and good and I’ve also had that wave smash me right down to the ocean floor and drag my face along there and wind up on some strange beach in a different world, wondering ‘where am I now?’ “ Fraser continued.
“I just want you to know, for real, all the actors out there who have gone through that, who are going through that, I know how you feel,” the Mummy star added. “But believe me, if you just stay in there and you put one foot in front of the other, you get to where you need to go. Have courage.”
Awards season came after Fraser — who is having somewhat of a career resurgence with The Whale, after having been out of the spotlight for years — experienced multiple lengthy standing ovations at various film festivals and screenings in the latter part of 2022.
“It’s been gratifying, it’s been eye-opening,” the actor told PEOPLE at the Palm Springs International Film Awards of the praise he has received for his performance. “It has made me have a sense of accomplishment by way of seeing how this story is changing people’s hearts and minds.”
He added, “That’s gratifying, to say at least, and that kind of opportunity does not come along in this circus show of show business that we all play along with sometimes.”
“But when it does, and it’s material that’s handled with care and the project comports itself in a way that’s interesting and important, I feel very fortunate and lucky to be a part of it,” said Fraser.