Director Darren Aronofsky has a habit of resurrecting careers, most notably with Mickey Rourke's Oscar-nominated turn in 'The Wrestler', and now the auteur has pulled off another career comeback in the shape of Brendan Fraser.

Fraser is Oscar-tipped for his performance in 'The Whale', where he plays a 600-pound man who tries to reconnect with his daughter following the death of his lover.

Speaking to Variety, Aronofsky revealed he struggled to get the film made, even considering handing directing duties over to Tom Ford or George Clooney, but a eureka moment came when he saw Brendan Fraser in a trailer for a low-budget film he had made in Brazil.

The article said that Aronofsky saw a "haunted, vulnerable quality to the man" that made him perfect for the role.

“As soon as he left my office after our first meeting, I felt it," Aronofsky said.

"I knew he could play someone who most people would start off by dismissing, but within five minutes they’d start to feel something for him. Then, within 20 minutes, they’re starting to fall in love with the character, because there’s just something about Brendan. Pretty soon, he starts to break your heart."

Aronfosky shrugged off comparisons between Fraser's comeback role here and Mickey Rourke's comeback in 'The Wrestler', with the director noting "with Mickey, there was a lot of negative energy around him because of the middle finger that he gave to the industry."

"Brendan was beloved, but he just didn’t have that opportunity to show all these sides. It’s about getting the right role in the right moment as an actor."

Fraser said that the overwhelming response 'The Whale' received at the Venice Film Festival was "emotional."

'The Mummy' star said "it felt so affirming."

"I was emotional because it was an acknowledgment that what we did is making an impact. And that kind of response feels completely new in my professional life."

Aronofsky said that he was "surprised" by the affection that Fraser still commands, and the attention the film is receiving.

"It definitely was not part of my calculation, how much goodwill and support there is out there for Brendan," the 'Black Swan' director said.

"I just needed the right actor for the role. But it’s amazing to see how people respond to him. I think they’re going to be impressed by how the same actor who played all those honest, innocent characters back then is portraying this complicated, messed-up person."

'The Whale' will release in Irish cinemas in 2023.