Brendan Fraser Details Groping Allegation Against Former HFPA President
In 2016, Brendan Fraser began making a quiet comeback after a mysterious career absence that started with a guest spot on The Affair and led up to a leading role in the upcoming Danny Boyle FX series Trust. As detailed to Zach Baron in a fascinating new profile for GQ, Fraser’s disappearance from movie and TV screens wasn’t necessarily abrupt, nor could it be attributed to any single cause — which makes the above headline somewhat reductive. There’s just far too much to unpack in Fraser’s story, which involves extensive physical injuries, emotional struggles, and a groping allegation involving the former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
It should go without saying that the entire profile is worth reading; far beyond the attention-grabbing assault allegation against former HFPA president Philip Berk, Fraser is remarkably vulnerable on topics ranging from his horse to his eldest son (who rates on the autism spectrum), and his very struggles with identity and self-esteem. But in the midst of the ongoing #MeToo movement, as several of Fraser’s former co-stars and friends have come forward to relive their own harrowing experiences with sexual violence, the actor felt empowered to share his story.
In 2003, at an event for the HFPA (the mysterious organization behind the Golden Globes), Fraser claims that he was groped by the group’s former president, Philip Berk. Describing the alleged incident, Fraser says, “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.” Berk, who is still a member of the HFPA, has denied Fraser’s recollection of events, which he calls a “total fabrication.”
Fraser says that the incident made him feel “ill,” and “like a little kid.” Regarding his decision to remain quiet about Berk until now, Fraser explains, “I didn’t want to contend with how that made me feel, or it becoming part of my narrative.” The way the actor describes his emotional state in the aftermath of the incident may feel incredibly familiar for many sexual assault survivors:
I became depressed. 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.
The actor also says that the HFPA promised that Fraser would never be in the same room with Berk again. Though the organization declined to respond to GQ’s request for comment, Fraser says he watched the recent Golden Globes telecast and saw Berk in the audience. In the years since the incident with Berk, Fraser has “rarely” been invited to attend the ceremony, and believes that his accusation may have “curried disfavor” with the HFPA.
That traumatic incident was just one of a few reasons for his career absence, which Fraser also attributes to physical injuries sustained while acting — injuries that were not properly treated, and which ultimately resulted in numerous surgeries that put him “in and out of hospitals for almost seven years.” Although Fraser says his injuries were due to a zealous work ethic, he goes on to detail his struggles with self-esteem and depression, which only became worse when he failed to land the title role in Brett Ratner’s Superman movie. (Ratner didn’t end up making the movie, which went to Bryan Singer; both men have been the subject of numerous sexual assault and harassment allegations.)
For more, head over to GQ.