Actor Brendan Fraser added his name to the growing list of people publicly speaking out against alleged acts of sexual misconduct by influential individuals in entertainment and other industries.
According to Entertainment Weekly, 49-year-old Fraser, known for his leading role in the 1999 film “The Mummy,” has accused former Hollywood Foreign Press Association President Philip Berk of sexual assault. He claims the incident occurred in 2003 after Berk approached him for what he thought was a handshake.
“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.”
Not only did the alleged assault leave him feeling “ill,” he further stated his belief that his acting career was sabotaged as a result of his response to the incident — even though Fraser said he lacked “the courage” to speak out against Berk at the time.
GQ reports that he did, however, request through his representatives an apology and an assurance from the association that Berk would not be allowed in the same room as Fraser in the future.
In a statement, Berk acknowledged that he wrote an apology letter, but called Fraser’s version of events “a total fabrication.”
He previously addressed the incident in his 2014 memoir, writing that he pinched the actor’s rear “in jest.”
As for Fraser, he says the assault was anything but playful and has had a lasting impact on his career and personal life.
“I felt like a little kid,” he said. “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 was afraid of humiliation or professional retribution back then, he said, claiming that he only confided in his wife, Afton.
“I didn’t want to contend with how that made me feel, or it becoming part of my narrative,” he said.
Not only did those emotions negatively impact his professional life, he has since wondered whether the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which votes for the winners of the Golden Globes, had blacklisted him because of his complaint against its then-president.
“I don’t know if this curried disfavor with the group, with the HFPA,” he said. “But the silence was deafening.”
While Fraser pointed to few Golden Globes invitations after that complaint, Berk spoke on behalf of the association when he said the actor’s career “declined through no fault of ours.”
Even nearly 15 years later, Fraser said he still fears backlash for speaking out, adding that he has wanted to share his story repeatedly since it happened but has always talked himself out of it.
[Featured image: Brendan Fraser/Associated Press]