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Brendan Fraser Says HFPA Ex-President Sexually Assaulted Him

UPDATED: Brendan Fraser is joining the #MeToo movement, coming forward on Thursday with allegations of sexual assault by an ex-president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

In a new interview with GQ, “The Mummy” star alleges that the HFPA’s Philip Berk assaulted him at the Beverly Hills Hotel in the summer of 2003.

“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,” the actor said. Berk recounted the incident in his memoir “With Signs and Wonders,” but said he pinched Fraser’s behind as a joke. According to Fraser, though, it wasn’t a joke, and he was overcome with fear and had 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 says. He rushed home and told his wife about the encounter, but was afraid to go public with the incident as, “I didn’t want to contend with how that made me feel, or it becoming part of my narrative.”

Fraser, through his reps, asked the HFPA for an apology, which Berk says he wrote, but added “My apology admitted no wrongdoing, the usual ‘If I’ve done anything that upset Mr. Fraser, it was not intended and I apologize.’” Berk, who took a six-month leave of absence from the HFPA in April 2014 following backlash from his memoir but is still a member, denied the claim in an e-mail to GQ, saying “Mr. Fraser’s version is a total fabrication.”

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association responded in a statement that reads:

“The HFPA stands firmly against sexual harassment and the type of behavior described in this article. 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.”

The actor said that the incident made him reclusive and he retreated from public life. He questioned if the HFPA blacklisted him as a result, since he was rarely invited back to the Golden Globes, which the HFPA runs, after 2003. He believes it’s partly why his career derailed, and said “The phone does stop ringing in your career, and you start asking yourself why. There’s many reasons, but was this one of them? I think it was.”

Fraser added that he was emboldened to come forward by the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, saying “I know Rose [McGowan], I know Ashley [Judd], I know Mira [Sorvino] — I’ve worked with them. I call them friends in my mind. I haven’t spoken to them in years, but they’re my friends. I watched this wonderful movement, these people with the courage to say what I didn’t have the courage to say.”

“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 in the interview. “Maybe I am over-reacting in terms of what the instance was. I just know what my truth is.”

In the GQ piece Fraser also discussed the physical dangers of stunt work, which he described as “destructive,” particularly for the three “Mummy” films he starred in. By the time he was working on the series’ third film in 2008,  “I was put together with tape and ice… I was building an exoskeleton for myself daily.” Eventually these injuries resulted in multiple surgeries, including a laminectomy, a partial knee replacement, back and vocal cord surgeries that amounted to seven years in and out of hospitals.

“I felt like the horse from ‘Animal Farm,’ whose job it was to work and work and work,” he said. “Orwell wrote a character who was, I think, the proletariat. He worked for the good of the whole, he didn’t ask questions, he didn’t make trouble until it killed him. … I don’t know if I’ve been sent to the glue factory, but I’ve felt like I’ve had to rebuild s— that I’ve built that got knocked down and do it again for the good of everyone. Whether it hurts you or not.”

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