Brendan Fraser is speaking out for the first time about his experience with sexual harassment in Hollywood. In a new GQ profile titled “What Ever Happened To Brendan Fraser?,” the actor remembers being groped by Philip Berk in the summer of 2003. Berk was the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization behind the Golden Globe Awards. The alleged groping occurred at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
According to Fraser, Berk placed his hand on his butt when they hugged at an HFPA luncheon. Berk wrote in his memoir that he did so in jest, but Fraser remembers the incident much differently.
“His left hand reaches around, grabs my ass cheek, and one of his fingers touches me in the taint,” Fraser said. “And he starts moving it around. 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.”
Fraser told GQ that he was overcome by “panic and fear” in the moment. The actor immediately left the luncheon and went home to his wife, who he said he told about the interaction. Fraser debated going public with the story but ultimately decided to remain silent out of fear of public humiliation and damaging his career.
“I didn’t want to contend with how that made me feel, or it becoming part of my narrative,” Fraser said. “”I became depressed. 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 said the moment still haunts him, especially, for instance, when he sees Berk on the television during the Golden Globes. Berk is still a member of the HFPA.
“Am I still frightened? Absolutely,” he said. “Do I feel like I need to say something? Absolutely. Have I wanted to many, many times? Absolutely. Have I stopped myself? Absolutely.”
Berk responded to Fraser’s story by telling GQ it is a “total fabrication.” He admitted to writing a letter to Fraser about the incident but said his apology “admitted no wrongdoing.”
Fraser can be seen as James Fletcher Chace in Danny Boyle’s FX series “Trust,” which debuts March 25.