Brendan Fraser won best male actor in a leading role for his performance in The Whale at the 2023 Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday night.
“I treasure this, but never more than when I treasured what I used to keep in my wallet, which was my SAG card that I earned in 1991. It made me feel like I belonged,” he said to start off his acceptance following Jessica Chastain’s introduction. “As actors, we all want to belong to a tribe and that’s when I found where I belong. And if you told that guy back then that I’d be standing right here right now, I would not have believed you.”
He continued, “I wouldn’t believe that I had a chance to work with world-class filmmakers like Darren Aronofsky (the film’s director) and speak the words of empathy fountain that is Samuel D. Hunter (the film’s writer) and incredible castmates. … I never believed that I would have been offered the role of my life in this character — Charlie in The Whale.”
Fraser went on to share what he learned from playing the role and inspirational and powerful words for other actors. “He’s [Charlie] someone who is on a raft of regrets, but he’s in a sea of hope. And I’ve been at that sea and I rode that wave lately and it’s been powerful and good, and I’ve also had that wave smash me down to the ocean floor and dragged my face along there and wound up on some strange beach in a different world and wondering, where am I now? And I just want you to know … all the actors out there who have gone through that or are going through that, I know how you feel. Believe me, if you just stay in there and you put one foot in front of the other, you’ll get to where you need to go. Have courage.”
He concluded his acceptance by thanking his children, their mother and his agent, saying, “I wouldn’t be able to do any of this [without you]. Thank you so very much.”
The Mummy actor’s win follows an already busy award season for Fraser after he received his first Oscar nom for his performance in the film and also won best actor at the 2023 Critics Choice Awards.
The Aronofsky-directed film follows a reclusive, morbidly obese English teacher, Charlie (Fraser), as he tries to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter, Ellie (Sadie Sink), for one last chance at redemption before it’s too late.
Other nominees in the category included Austin Butler for Elvis, Colin Farrell for The Banshees of Inisherin, Bill Nighy for Living and Adam Sandler for Hustle. (Check out the star-studded red carpet arrivals here.)
The 29th annual SAG Awards ceremony was held at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles. The award show honors the year’s best acting performances in film and television. Find the complete winners list here.