On Sunday night, Brendan Fraser took home the Oscar for Best Actor at the 2023 Academy Awards. Fraser was recognized for his performance in Darren Aronofsky’s 2022 drama The Whale, in which he plays Charlie, a 600-pound man who reconciles himself to the limits of his reclusive life over a period of five days.
Fraser, who was visibly emotional and overwhelmed during his acceptance speech, thanked those who helped him get to the stage at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. He also called out his fellow nominees, saying, “Only whales can swim at the depth of the talent of Hong Chau.”
In addition to this win, Fraser has previously taken home the Critics Choice Award and the SAG Award and was also nominated for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA. He was also honored with the Spotlight Award at the Palm Springs International Film Awards in January.
Speaking of his success in the role of Charlie, Fraser said, “It’s been gratifying, it’s been eye-opening,” the actor told PEOPLE at the Palm Springs International Film Awards. “It has made me have a sense of accomplishment by way of seeing how this story is changing people’s hearts and minds.”
He continued, “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.
Fraser’s win marks a career resurgence for the actor, who has been out of the spotlight for years. He was met with multiple lengthy standing ovations at various film festivals and screenings in 2022, and his performance in The Whale is being praised as one of his best yet.
In addition to Fraser, the nominees for Best Actor included Austin Butler (Elvis), Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin), Paul Mescal (Aftersun), and Bill Nighy (Living).