22/02/2018 22:47 GMT | Updated 25/02/2018 02:09 GMT

Brendan Fraser Says He Was Groped by Former HFPA President

The actor told GQ the alleged incident was one of many reasons why he disappeared from Hollywood.

Brendan Fraser, who has largely stayed out of the public eye in recent years, said in a GQ interview published Thursday that a high-profile man in Hollywood once groped him.

After headlining a series of popular films throughout the ’90s, including “George of the Jungle” and “The Mummy,” Fraser’s star power waned in the next decade following a string of personal and professional challenges. 

The actor believes one of the reasons his career hit a standstill was because of an alleged incident with Philip Berk, a former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which hosts the Golden Globes. Fraser told GQ that Berk groped him at a luncheon in 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,” Fraser said. “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.”

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Brendan Fraser in the movie "George of the Jungle."
Danny Moloshok / Reuters
The former Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Philip Berk speaks at luncheon in 2009. 

He added: “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.’”

Fraser later demanded and received a written apology from the organization, but he wasn’t satisfied with it. Berk maintains the interaction was in jest, calling the actor’s version of events a “total fabrication.” 

“My apology admitted no wrongdoing, the usual ‘If I’ve done anything that upset Mr. Fraser, it was not intended and I apologize,’” Berk told GQ.  

As in many accounts similar to Fraser’s that have come to light as Hollywood reckons with sexual harassment and assault, Fraser said that at the time of the incident he didn’t possess “the courage to speak up for risk of humiliation, or damage to my career.” 

 “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,” he said. “I watched this wonderful movement, these people with the courage to say what I didn’t have the courage to say.” 

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 Brendan Fraser, Hilary Swank and Donald Sutherland attend the 2018 Winter TCA Tour.

While Fraser said there were a host of reasons why his work suffered ― he went through a contentious divorce, underwent multiple surgeries after injuries on film sets, his mother lost a battle to cancer ― he says job opportunities “withered on the vine for me” and he was rarely invited back to the Globes after the incident. 

As for his career, it’s seemingly gotten back on track in recent years with roles in the third season of “The Affair” and a role on Danny Boyle’s upcoming FX series “Trust,” but the experience with Berk still looms large. 

“Am I still frightened?” he said “Absolutely. Do I feel like I need to say something? Absolutely. Have I wanted to many, many times? Absolutely. Have I stopped myself? Absolutely.”

To read Fraser’s full interview, head over to GQ