Brendan Fraser Recalls Groping Incident That Contributed To His Exit From Hollywood
The ’90s were a big time for a lot of stars but with an onslaught of films including The Mummy, George of the Jungle, Blast from the Past and many others, there is no denying that Brendan Fraser was one of the biggest stars of all. Then, despite his success and popularity he almost completely fell off the radar of mainstream entertainment, and now the actor has opened up about his sexual assault story which he says contributed to his absence from Hollywood in the peak of his career.
In a recently published interview with GQ, the 49-year-old opened up about his life over the past decade which includes a divorce, raising three sons, losing his mother to cancer and undergoing surgeries as a result of injuries he suffered doing stunts on The Mummy, all while slowly making his way back into more and more roles after he claims he was groped in 2003.
According to Fraser, he attended a party which former Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Philip Berk also attended and while there Berk grabbed Fraser’s behind “in jest,” but to Fraser it certainly wasn’t funny. While the actor had previously talked about the incident in his memoir and in a piece by The New York Times, he told his story in graphic detail to GQ where he said, “His left hand reaches around, grabs my ass cheek, and one of his fingers touches me in the taint. And he starts moving it around,” Fraser said. He recalled panic and fear, but eventually he was able to move Berk’s hand. “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.”
Fraser immediately left the event and only told his wife at the time, and shortly after GQ‘s piece was published Berk responded, saying, “Mr. Fraser’s version is a total fabrication,” adding, “My apology admitted no wrongdoing, the usual ‘If I’ve done anything that upset Mr. Fraser, it was not intended and I apologize.'”
While he tried to minimize the situation, it quickly took a toll on the actor and he said “I became depressed,” and he began to “retreat” and questioned “who I was and what I was doing,” which led to his Hollywood absence. Now, with the rise of the #MeToo movement, and accusations from actresses such as Rose McGowan, Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino (all three of whom he has worked with), stating they had been blacklisted for coming forward, Fraser wonders if the same thing happened to him. He told GQ the last Golden Globes he attended was in 2003 and was rarely invited to any event afterward, and wondered if Berk’s prominent role in the HFPA had anything to do with it, but Berk denied the HFPA retaliated against Fraser, stating, “His career declined through no fault of ours.”
“The phone does stop ringing in your career, and you start asking yourself why,” Fraser said. “There’s many reasons, but was this one of them? I think it was.”
Fraser also admitted that he didn’t even talk about the incident in the initial report from GQ, but called the reporter and asked him to come back because there was something he needed to get off his chest.
While his prominent roles certainly fell away, Fraser never quit acting and has mostly focused on television. He recently filmed two television series simultaneously, the upcoming Condor on Audience, and Trust for FX, and has two films in post-production, Behind the Curtain of Night and The Field.
Trust premieres on FX on March 25.
Following the publication of GQ’s article on Thursday, February 22, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association released a statement confirming they are investigating Fraser’s claims. “The HFPA stands firmly against sexual harassment and the type of behavior described in this article. Over the years we’ve continued a positive working relationship with Brendan, which includes announcing Golden Globe nominees, attending the ceremony and participating in press conferences. This report includes alleged information that the HFPA was previously unaware of and at this time we are investigating further details surrounding the incident.”