‘The Whale’: James Corden almost took lead role ahead of Brendan Fraser

"I was going to play that part, and Tom Ford was going to direct"

James Corden has revealed that he was originally set to take the lead role in The Whale ahead of Brendan Fraser.

The recently released film sees Fraser play Charlie, a morbidly obese and reclusive English teacher who attempts to reconnect with with his 17-year-old daughter, Elle (played by Stranger Things‘ Sadie Sink).

The cast also includes Hong Chau (Watchmen), Samantha Morton (Minority Report) and Ty Simpkins (Avengers: Endgame).


In a new column for Deadline, critic Pete Hammond revealed that Corden recently told him that he was originally set for the starring role, saying: “I was going to play that part, and Tom Ford was going to direct.”

44-year-old Corden then reportedly worried that he was too young to “do [the role] justice” compared to 54-year-old Fraser.

The column then added that George Clooney was also “involved” in the project for a time, but “only wanted to make the film if an actual 600-pound unknown could be found to play the lead role”.

James Corden
James Corden pictured in 2022. CREDIT: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Reviewing The Whale, NME wrote: “It should be said that Brendan Fraser – making his long-awaited comeback to cinema – imbues The Whale’s central figure with as much empathy and care as possible within the considerable confines of the script. And Hong Chau exudes both coldness and caring; whenever she enters the room, more clumsily handled elements suddenly seem to settle.

“Still, even these strong performances can’t quite focus The Whale – a story which purports to grapple with existential themes, but never really makes sense of anything.”


Corden also recently revealed that he originally auditioned to play the part of Samwise Gamgee in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. The part of Gamgee ultimately went to Sean Austin. According to Corden, the audition was “not good”.

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