Brendan Fraser is joining the chorus of Hollywood voices saying "#MeToo." In an interview with GQ, the actor alleged that the former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Philip Berk, groped him years ago and that his career might have suffered as a result.
Fraser said that in 2003, as he was leaving a luncheon held by the HFPA at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Berk stopped him and shook his hand. Then, Fraser said, Berk groped him.
"His left hand reaches around, grabs my a** cheek, and one of his fingers touches me in the taint," said Fraser. "And he starts moving it around." The former "Mummy" star said that he panicked.
"I felt ill," Fraser said. He told GQ that he removed Berk's hand. "I felt like a little kid. I felt like there was a ball in my throat. I thought I was going to cry."
Fraser recalled that when he left the room, he saw a police officer but could not bring himself to complain about Berk. Then he went home and told his wife, Afton, what happened. Berk, who has admitted to pinching Fraser's butt, denied that the incident went beyond that, saying, "Mr. Fraser's version is a total fabrication."
After the encounter, Fraser decided not to go public with his accusation, but did demand an apology from the HFPA, which he received. Berk says now that the apology was not a confession, telling GQ, "My apology admitted no wrongdoing, the usual 'If I've done anything that upset Mr. Fraser, it was not intended and I apologize.'"
Fraser also said that the HFPA promised to prohibit Berk from being in the same room as Fraser, though Berk (who is still an HFPA member) denies that. The HFPA did not comment on the story.
Fraser said as a consequence of the incident, he became depressed and felt that he deserved the alleged assault.
"I was blaming myself and I was miserable—because I was saying, 'This is nothing; this guy reached around and he copped a feel,'" he said. "That summer wore on—and I can't remember what I went on to work on next."
Fraser, who was a big star in the 1990s and early 2000s, said that he believes it's possible that the HFPA blacklisted him after the incident, pointing out that he was rarely invited to the Golden Globes after 2003. Berk hit back, "His career declined through no fault of ours."
The actor said he was encouraged by seeing women speak out as part of the #MeToo movement. He said he is still frightened by sharing his story, but feels that he needs to speak up against sexual misconduct. Though many women have given accounts of alleged sexual assaults, very few prominent men have come forward with their own stories.and are among the other male actors who say they have experienced sexual misconduct.