‘Why Wear a Fat Suit?’

Daniel Franzese

Amanda Edwards/Getty Daniel Franzese

Daniel Franzese says he “and the other big queer guys” are overlooked for roles — like the one played by Brendan Fraser in The Whale.

“I love Brendan Fraser, [so] I’m very conflicted,” the mean girls actor, 44, tells PEOPLE of Fraser’s role as a gay 600-lb. reclusive writing instructor who is struggling to reconnect with his teenage daughter (Stranger Things star Sadie Sink). “Seeing him get up so modest in Venice and have that moment, I was very happy for him. He’s a lovely man. And it’s great. But why? Why go up there and wear a fat suit to play a 400-lb. queer man?”

Franzese goes on to say that “actors like me and my colleagues” would “jump at” the opportunity to star a movie like The Whalewhich has awards buzz for Fraser’s acclaimed performance.

“To finally have a chance to be in a prestige film that might be award-nominated, where stories about people who look like us are being told? That’s the dream,” Franzese continues. “So when they go time and time again and cast someone like Brendan Fraser, me and the other big queer guys, we’re like, ‘What the…?’ We can’t take it!”

Reps for Fraser and the movie’s director, Darren Aronofsky, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment Monday.

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Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Courtesy of A24 Brendan Fraser in The Whale (2022)

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Franzese tells PEOPLE that Aronofsky “is one of [his] favorite directors,” but says, “I would have loved to have read for this. I mean, who knows more about being an obese queer man than an obese queer man?”

“But I guess you can go ahead and wear a fat suit and do what you got to do and get your Oscar. We’ll just sit here, waiting,” Franzese says.

According to the RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race star, “The biggest problem we have right now in our industry is that people like me and my colleagues can’t really sell movies overseas if we are actually queer because the world is homophobic.”

“Even if America is ready for a gay person in the lead like that, they have a hard time selling the movie overseas, so they get scared,” Franzese says. “But it’s going to take risk-takers and real trailblazers to let us cut our teeth in these roles as actors so we, too, can have a shot at a full career in Hollywood.”

RELATED VIDEO: The Whale Star Brendan Fraser Felt “Sense of Vertigo” Removing 600 Ibs.-Man Prosthetic Suit

Aronofsky, 53, told Vanity Fair in an interview published last month that Fraser carried between 50 and 300 extra pounds during filming, depending on the scene. The movie takes place entirely within his character Charlie’s home over the course of less than a week.

“I became accustomed to wearing Charlie’s body pretty quickly,” Fraser told the PEOPLE and EW video studio during an interview at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month, according to Entertainment Weekly. “I discovered that, once I took it off, I could still feel the sensation of wearing it, almost like an undulation.”

The Mummy star added, “At the same time, once I took all the applications off at the end of the day, I felt a deepening sense of respect for people who live in that corporal being, because I could remove it like clothing and wardrobe and makeup , and their challenge to do that with their own body is not as sudden.”

The actor, who reportedly worked with the Obesity Action Coalition for research, said his experience in The Whale “gave me an appreciation for the incredible courage they have to possess themself with for their very survival, and it takes an incredibly strong-willed and physically strong person to live inside a body that is, in Charlie’s case, hundreds and hundreds of pounds. “

Honoree Brendan Fraser accepts the TIFF Tribute Award for Performance presented by IMDbPro for 'The Whale'  onstage at the TIFF Tribute Awards Gala during the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival at The Fairmont Royal York Hotel on September 11, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario.

Honoree Brendan Fraser accepts the TIFF Tribute Award for Performance presented by IMDbPro for ‘The Whale’ onstage at the TIFF Tribute Awards Gala during the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival at The Fairmont Royal York Hotel on September 11, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario.

Tommaso Boddi/Getty Brendan Fraser

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“In my mind, it looked like it belonged in the Tate Modern gallery,” Fraser added of the mold that was created for him from digital scans of his body. “It was that striking to behold. I say this because it’s important to have respect for those who do have that corporal being.”

“I learned almost in a way, poetically, that you need to have incredibly strong will of spirit and body to inhabit a body the size of Charlie’s, and that’s an appreciation that I grew to respect more and more each day,” he said.

The Whale marks Fraser’s first leading role since 2013’s breakoutaccording to variety. He had a role in last year’s No Sudden Moveplus recent TV stints on shows like Doom Patrol, The Affair and Trust. Fraser was expected to play the villain in the HBO Max batgirl movie before it was reported in August that the film was shelved indefinitely.

Samuel D. Hunter wrote the screenplay based on his play of the same name. The 2012 production debuted off-Broadway to acclaim from The New York Timesand it won a Drama Desk Award, the Lucille Lortel Award for outstanding play and a GLAAD Media Award.

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