According to the Empire article, Aronofsky saw Hunter’s play off-Broadway way back in 2012. The material struck him, and the filmmaker immediately began entertaining ideas of adapting it to film. Aronofsky and Hunter began workshopping a screenplay, working out its core ideas and brainstorming who should play the role of Charlie. No actor, however, manifested. Aronofsky said he needed a performer he would personally be excited to see. “I was looking for a reason to get up in the morning,” he told Empire. “Someone to work with that pumped me up.” In the interim, Aronofsky would make a pair of wild-and-crazy Biblical epics with “Noah” in 2014 and “mother!” in 2017.
It wouldn’t be until years later that Aronofsky would happen to see a preview for Eric Eason’s low-budget crime movie “Journey to the End of Night,” starring Fraser, Scott Glenn, Alice Braga, and Mos Def. Only then would the filmmaker begin to think about his eventual leading man. In “Journey to the End of Night,” Fraser plays a character named Paul who is a gambling addict, a cocaine addict, and co-owner of a Brazilian brothel with his father (Glenn). The film wasn’t too widely noted, but it certainly — years after its release — got Aronofsky about Fraser’s talents and charm.
As Aronofsky said of Fraser:
“He was off the radar, but suddenly I saw him, and was like, ‘Oh, that’s an idea.’ […] Movie stars are movie stars for a reason. It’s not just the good luck and good looks. There’s a fire inside them. Brendan was the first actor that just got me like … it was a eureka moment.”