Brendan Fraser was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars in ‘90s and early 2000s, starring in films including School Ties and The Mummy. Then he suddenly disappeared.
Now, in a GQ interview published on Thursday, February 22, the 49-year-old revealed the reason he decided to step out of the spotlight. In the piece, Fraser claims that former Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Philip Berk sexually assaulted him in the summer of 2003 during a luncheon in Beverly Hills.
According to Fraser, as he and Berk shook hands, “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.” The alleged incident left Fraser shaken.
“I felt ill,” he said. “I felt like a little kid. I felt like there was a ball in my throat. I thought I was going to cry. I felt like someone had thrown invisible paint on me.”
Fraser rushed home and told his then-wife, Afton Smith, what allegedly happened. But he decided to not go public with the story at the time. “I didn’t want to contend with how that made me feel, or it becoming a part of my narrative,” he told the magazine.
Berk later wrote a letter of apology and Fraser claims that HFPA vowed that that they would never allow the Golden Globes executive in a room with him again.
Berk, who is still a member of the HFPA, denies the assault ever happened. “Mr. Fraser’s version is a total fabrication,” he said in a statement to GQ. “My apology admitted no wrongdoing, the usual ‘If I’ve done anything that upset Mr. Fraser, it was it was not intended and I apologize.’”
While Fraser acknowledges that other factors contributed to his decision to step away from acting — including health issues and marital problems — the alleged experience with Berk caused him to become “reclusive” and “depressed.”
“I was blaming myself and I was miserable, because I was saying, ‘This is nothing; this guy reached around and copped a feel,’” he said. “Work withered on the vine for me. In my mind, at least, something had been taken away from me.”
Fraser, who stars in upcoming FX show Trust, was inspired to come forward after watching Rose McGowan, Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino publicly share similar experiences.
“Am I still frightened? Absolutely,” Fraser admitted. “Do I feel like I need to say something? Absolutely. 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.”
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