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.
“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.”
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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.”