Brendan Fraser Claims Former HFPA President Philip Berk Sexually Assaulted Him, Derailed His Career
Brendan Fraser claims that the former Hollywood Foreign Press Association president, Philip Berk, sexually assaulted him in 2003 and caused his career to derail.
BRENDAN FRASER CLAIMS PHILIP BERK SEXUALLY ASSAULTED HIM
The actor came forward in an interview with GQ published Thursday. He alleges that while at a luncheon in the summer of 2003, Berk touched him inappropriately while leaving a hotel. “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.
The incident left the actor feeling panic and unease, and he believes that he became blacklisted in Hollywood due to the aftermath. “I felt ill,” he said, recalling moving Berk’s hand away. “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.”
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Fraser says that he told his wife, Afton, what had happened, but didn’t have “the courage to speak up” sooner because he feared “humiliation or damage to my career.” “I didn’t want to contend with how that made me feel, or it becoming part of my narrative,” he added.
Fraser’s reps did ask the HFPA for a written apology, and he told GQ that the HFPA agreed to never allow Berk in a room with Fraser again. Berk, however, is still a member of the HFPA. He has denied all claims made by Fraser.
“Mr. Fraser’s version is a total fabrication,” he also said in a statement to GQ, acknowledging that he had written a letter of apology to the actor at the time. “My apology admitted no wrongdoing, the usual, ‘If I’ve done anything that upset Mr. Fraser, it was not intended and I apologize.'” In Berk’s 2014 memoir, he recounted the incident, saying that he had pinched Fraser’s behind “in jest.”
But to Fraser, the move was far from jest. “[I] became depressed,” he said. “I was blaming myself and I was miserable — because I was saying, ‘This is nothing; this guy reached around and he copped a feel. [Work] withered on the vine for me. In my mind, at least, something had been taken away from me.”
Fraser adds that he was rarely invited back to the Golden Globes, over which the HFPA has command. “I don’t know if this curried disfavor with the group, with the HFPA. But the silence was deafening,” he said. Berk has denied these claims as well, saying, “His career declined through no fault of ours.”
Even now, after speaking out about the incident, Fraser feels uncertain of his actions. “Am I still frightened? Absolutely,” he told the magazine. “Do I feel like I need to say something? Absolutely. Have I wanted to many, many times? Absolutely. Have I stopped myself? Absolutely.”
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