Darren Aronofsky on obesity, empathy and ‘The Whale’


Hello! It’s Mark Olsen, film writer for The Times and “The Envelope” podcast co-host.

“The Whale” director Darren Aronofsky is known for dark, challenging films that are often provocative and divisive, but when I spoke with him for today’s episode of “The Envelope,” his demeanor defied my expectations: He’s thoughtful, reflective and a little bit sweet.

Darren Aronofsky
Darren Aronofsky.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

In our conversation, Aronofsky reflects on how “The Whale” interacts with obesity and fatphobia, discusses exploring humanity through science and describes why the “Brenaissance” — star Brendan Fraser’s triumphant return to acting — caught him by surprise.

Aronofsky has previously directed four actors to Academy Award nominations (Natalie Portman won for “Black Swan”), so we also chatted about how he draws out such strong performances.

It’s a collaboration. It’s what I love to do. I’m a terrible musician, but if I could be playing backup bass for the Rolling Stones, I’d be there in a minute. I just love to jam. And that’s what you get to do with actors.

— Darren Aronofsky

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