** NOTE: This article contains sexually explicit language and may be disturbing to some readers. Please read at your own discretion. **
At some point in the middle of the last decade, actor Brendan Fraser disappeared from the big screen. A once-leading man in hit movies like School Ties, Encino Man and The Mummy, it seemed as though Fraser dropped off the face of the Earth.
In a new, revealing GQ interview, Fraser explains what led him away from Hollywood, and it’s a collection of unfortunate circumstances: his marriage was on the rocks, he was exhausted and he had some medical issues, but the biggest shocker is his claim that he was sexually assaulted.
The alleged culprit? Former Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) president Philip Berk.
“On Fraser’s way out of the hotel, he was hailed by Philip Berk, a former president of the HFPA. In the midst of a crowded room, Berk reached out to shake Fraser’s hand,” the article reads. “Much of what happened next Berk recounted in his memoir and was also reported by Sharon Waxman in the New York Times: He pinched Fraser’s ass — in jest, according to Berk. But Fraser says what Berk did was more than a pinch: ‘His left hand reaches around, grabs my ass cheek, and one of his fingers touches me in the taint [the perineum]. And he starts moving it around.’ Fraser says that in this moment he was overcome with panic and fear.”
Berk’s memoir, With Signs and Wonders – My Journey from Darkest Africa to the Bright Lights of Hollywood, was published in 2014, and details of his encounter with Fraser are presented matter-of-factly and almost in passing.
In an email, Berk says Fraser’s account of the incident is “a total fabrication.”
At the time of the alleged groping, Fraser says he didn’t report anything to the police, nor did he go public. He maintains that he reported it to the HFPA. While he doesn’t blame the organization for his lapsed career, he wonders aloud whether his accusation against Berk “curried disfavour with the group,” ultimately resulting in fewer roles being offered to him.
Fraser says he was inspired to come forward when he saw women wearing all black at the Golden Globes in January, and then he saw that Berk was in the room and realized that he — Fraser — was not. That struck him in a big way.
“Am I still frightened? Absolutely. Do I feel like I need to say something? Absolutely,” he said. “Have I wanted to many, many times? Absolutely. Have I stopped myself? Absolutely. Maybe I am overreacting in terms of what the instance was … I just know what my truth is.”
Fraser will soon be on TV screens following a successful stint on The Affair. Expect to see him in the upcoming show Trust on FX.
Berk has not been charged with any crime and this accusation haven’t been proven in a court of law.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.