Brendan Fraser alleged he was sexually assaulted by former HFPA president Philip Berk long before the latter got expelled.
American actor Brendan Fraser was once a big draw in the entertainment industry after rising to prominence during the 1990s. His first acting job came in 1991 when he starred in the movie “Dogfight,” alongside River Phoenix and Lili Taylor. The movie where he starred as “Sailor 1,” earned him his Screen Actors Guild.
A year later, Fraser starred with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in the movie “School Ties” as a Jewish scholarship quarterback. The movie was tagged to feature the next big stars in Hollywood, and Fraser was one of the standouts.
As the decade progressed, he starred in other films like “Encino Man” and “Airheads. However, in 1997 after years of playing minor roles, the actor landed a career-defining role as the main character in “George of The Jungle.”
He received worldwide acclaim for his performance in the movie, which eventually grossed $175 million. Then, the actor stepped it up a notch with another wonderful acting in the 1998 movie “Gods and Monsters.” Fraser’s performances set him up for movie superstardom, and after starring in “The Mummy” in 1999, he became a bonafide movie star.
For the next decade, Fraser enjoyed huge success in his career, starring in multiple films. He started the 2000s with the film “Bedazzled,” and then “Monkeybone,” and “The Mummy Returns” in 2001. However, in 2003 at the height of his career, Fraser experienced a traumatic experience that would later affect his career.
Brendan Fraser Gets Sexually Assaulted
In the summer of 2003, Fraser attended the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel. On his way out of the hotel, the actor got stopped by Philip Berk, a former president of the HFPA.
According to Fraser, Berk reached out to shake his hand in the crowded room, and during the handshake, the HFPA former president pinched his ass. The actor said:
“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 instantly started panicking but eventually removed Berk’s hand. Afterward, Brendan explained he felt sick. He expressed:
“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. I felt like someone had thrown invisible paint on me.”
Fraser immediately rushed out of the room, past a police officer he could not confess to, and he went straight home and told his then-wife Afton about what happened.
After the incident, Fraser thought about making the incident public, but he was conflicted; he did not want to contend how he felt or become part of a narrative. However, he could not shake the feeling of what he had just experienced.
After the incident, Fraser’s representatives requested a written apology from Berk; however, the former HFPA president claimed he was not guilty. The HFPA, nevertheless, vowed not to allow Berk in the same room with Fraser again.
Fraser Was Traumatized By The Incident
Weeks after the incident, Fraser became depressed and wondered if he deserved what had happened to him. He admitted:
“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 found himself making excuses for Berk and wondering if he had overreacted. However, the actor decided to tell his story after the advent of the #MeToo Movement. He joined many other movie stars who came out with similar stories.
During the Golden Globes, the actresses wore black, and the actors wore Time’s Up pins in solidarity. After seeing this, the actor declared:
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.”
Philip Berk Expelled By HFPA For Racist Email
In 2021, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced they had expelled former president Philip Berk. The 88-year-old was expelled after he sent an email to members calling the Black Lives Matter a ‘racist hate movement.’
Berk also criticized the BLM co-founder for owning a house in Topanga Canyon, California. In their statement, The HFPA stated:
“Effective immediately, Phil Berk is no longer a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.”
Berk’s email caused a lot of controversies, and many people bashed him for it. Afterward, Berk replied he had no hidden agenda and only wanted to use the mail as a point of information. However, his rebuttal did not affect the HFPA’s judgment.
The decision to finally expel Berk came years after Fraser had accused him of sexual assault. Although Berk admitted to pinching the actor’s butt, he never intended to hurt Fraser.