AceShowbiz - In the wake of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements, Brendan Fraser accuses former Hollywood Foreign Press Association (which holds the annual Golden Globe Awards) president Philip Berk of sexual assault. The actor, best known for playing Rick O'Connell in "The Mummy" trilogy, claims Berk groped him in 2003.
In an interview with GQ which was published on Thursday, February 22, the 49-year-old details the alleged incident which took place in the summer of 2003 at a luncheon held by the HFPA in the Beverly Hills Hotel. Fraser says on his way out of the hotel, he was hailed by Berk. There in the midst of a crowded room, Berk reached out to shake Fraser's hand and pinched Fraser's ass, like Berk said himself in his memoir and was also reported by Sharon Waxman in The New York Times.
Fraser, however, claims that Berk did more than just a pinch. "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," he recalls. Fraser says that in that moment he was overcome with panic and fear.
Fraser says he was able to remove Berk's hand. "I felt ill. I felt like a little kid. I felt like there was a ball in my throat. I thought I was going to cry," he recounts. He told his wife about what had happened. "I felt like someone had thrown invisible paint on me," he goes on sharing.
The "Journey to the Center of the Earth" star says he considered making it public, but ultimately "I didn't want to contend with how that made me feel, or it becoming part of my narrative." His reps did ask the HFPA for a written apology though, and Berk wrote a letter about the incident. The HFPA also said it would never allow Berk in a room with Fraser again, according to Fraser.
Still, the incident left Fraser becoming " depressed." He shares, "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 adds that the experience "made me retreat. It made me feel reclusive."
Fraser also wondered if the HFPA had blacklisted him. "I don't know if this curried disfavor with the group, with the HFPA. But the silence was deafening," he says, adding that he was rarely invited back to the Globes after 2003.
He goes on admitting, "Am I still frightened? Absolutely. Do I feel like I need to say something? Absolutely. Have I wanted to many, many times? Absolutely. Have I stopped myself? Absolutely."
Berk has denied Fraser's allegation. He says, "Mr. Fraser's version is a total fabrication." As to the apology letter he wrote, he claims, "My apology admitted no wrongdoing, the usual 'If I've done anything that upset Mr. Fraser, it was not intended and I apologize.' " Berk also denies that the HFPA retaliated against Fraser, saying in a statement, "His career declined through no fault of ours."
The HFPA, meanwhile, has launched an investigation regarding the accusation Fraser has made against Berk, who is still a member of the organization. "The HFPA stands firmly against sexual harassment and the type of behavior described in this article," it says in a statement.
The statement continues to read, "Over the years we've continued a positive working relationship with Brendan, which includes announcing Golden Globe nominees, attending the ceremony and participating in press conferences. This report includes alleged information that the HFPA was previously unaware of and at this time we are investigating further details surrounding the incident."