Brendan Fraser recounts the sexual harassment that led to the downfall of his career: "I felt ill. I felt like a little kid"

Brendan Fraser recounts the sexual harassment that led to the downfall of his career: "I felt ill. I felt like a little kid"

The actor was assaulted by Philip Berk, the former president of the HFPA at the Beverly Hills Hotel during a luncheon in 2003.

Brendan Fraser was a very well-known actor in the 90s, having been a part of many blockbuster films like Bedazzled, The Mummy trilogy, George of the Jungle, and Inkheart. The actor, who was at the peak of his career, vanished from the big screen altogether. It was only after many years he spent away from the limelight that he revealed the reason for his sudden disappearance. Among the other devastating life changes, Fraser was a victim of sexual misconduct. The incident that took place in the summer of 2003 left the actor traumatized. He also believes his career was sabotaged for speaking up against it.


In an interview with GQ magazine, Fraser revealed that he was sexually assaulted by the former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA,) Philip Berk. The association, which organizes the Golden Globes, was hosting a luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Fraser explained that he was on his way out of the hotel when Berk ushered him over. As Fraser reached out to shake his hand, Berk unexpectedly pinched his butt. “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 recounted the horrifying incident.


The actor was overcome with fear. “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 said. He ran outside the room and even considered reporting the incident to a police officer he came across on his way. But he could not bring himself to explain what happened to him. Instead, he confided in his then-wife, Afton Smith. “I felt like someone had thrown invisible paint on me,” he said. Berk, on the other hand, dismissed this incident completely and said that he only pinched Fraser's butt "in jest." Berk's version of events was even recounted in his memoir.


Fraser was rattled by the incident and started blaming himself for what had happened. “I became depressed,” he said and added. “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.” Fraser shared that this incident was what forced him to retreat and lead a reclusive life after enjoying his fame as a successful actor. Additionally, Fraser, 52, also went through a rough divorce with his wife of 15 years in 2009 and had to deal with the passing of his mother in 2016.


Fraser decided to come out and share his experience after the #MeToo movement in 2018 took steam. He has always felt sorry for not having “the courage to speak up for risk of humiliation, or damage to my career.” But the damage, which Berk claims no responsibility for has been done. “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,” Fraser said as he recalled the Golden Globes where the actors were protesting predators in the industry. Ironically, Berk was in the audience and Fraser was not. 


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