Brendan Fraser has come forward and said that the former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association sexually harassed him in 2003.
Fraser used to be a household Hollywood name, appearing in about three to four films a year from 1992 to 2003, including The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. Since his turn in Journey to the Center of the Earth, he’s kind of disappeared from the spotlight entirely. Aside from appearing in a couple of things here and there, he’s just about fallen off the face of the Earth. Then all of a sudden, he appeared in Showtime’s drama The Affair as a frighteningly compelling prison guard. It was a small role, but it defined the third season of The Affair. Now, he seems to be coming back to the industry with a role in Danny Boyle’s new FX series, Trust, yet another retelling of the Getty kidnapping seen in All the Money in the World. But why exactly did Fraser vanish for so long? He was sexually assaulted.
Fraser opened up in a striking new interview with GQ, wherein he details where he’s been the past few years as well as what his career was like in 1990s. But towards the end of the piece, he reveals the sexual assault that he believes was the cause of this huge dip in his career. At a luncheon held by the HFPA, the organization that hosts the Golden Globes, Fraser was groped by the former HFPA president, Philip Berk. He detailed the incident, saying, “I felt ill. I felt like a little kid. I felt like there was a ball in my throat. I thought I was going to cry.”
After the incident, Fraser struggled with making it public. His reps contacted Philip Berk and asked for an apology, but it came back like any of the other recent assault apologies we’ve heard lately:
“Berk acknowledges that he wrote a letter to Fraser about the incident but says, ‘My apology admitted no wrongdoing, the usual ‘If I’ve done anything that upset Mr. Fraser, it was not intended and I apologize.””
Because of his accusations against Berk, Fraser says that the HFPA wouldn’t allow him in a room with Berk anymore, which he believes has led him to rarely receive an invitation to the Golden Globes for a number of years. He says, “I was blaming myself and I was miserable—because I was saying, ‘This is nothing; this guy reached around and he copped a feel.’ That summer wore on—and I can’t remember what I went on to work on next.” While the HFPA denies any involvement in the decline of Fraser’s career, he does wonder whether his allegations against Berk blacklisted him in the organization. After all of these years, Fraser is still affected by this encounter:
“Am I still frightened? Absolutely. Do I feel like I need to say something? Absolutely. Have I wanted to many, many times? Absolutely. Have I stopped myself? Absolutely.”
This is a heartbreaking story, and one that’s become all too common in the recent months. Once Harvey Weinstein’s allegation broke over the news, a levee seemed to break, empowering women and men all over Hollywood to come forward with their stories. While this interview told a devastating story of depression and a self-imposed isolation, there’s also a really beautiful and touching segment about his autistic son and a horse. So even through the darkness, there’s still beauty to be found.
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