Brendan Fraser, megastar of the Mummy trilogy and George of the Jungle, finally opens up about his decline in Hollywood, coming forward about an alleged sexual assault he says he received at the hands of former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, (HFPA) Philip Berk. Fraser says he didn’t have the courage to speak up about the incident before; he felt he was risking not only humiliation, but also possibly causing his career suffer as well. However, Fraser claims that although he is still frightened, that he absolutely needs to say something and that he had wanted to say something many times before, but always stopped himself. This time he isn’t stopping.
Fraser acknowledged that the incident in question happened in 2003 when he was leaving a Beverly Hills Hotel where a HFPA luncheon had been held. Fraser was on his way out when Philip Berk, who was the president of HFPA at the time, went to shake hands with him. Instead, Berk reached around, grabbed Fraser’s buttocks, then touching him ”in the taint”, according to Fraser, moved his fingers around. Fraser said at the time it made him feel sick, like there was something in his throat. He also said it made him feel like a little kid and that he thought he was going to cry. Fraser said he finally removed Berk’s hand and hurried out of the jam-packed room.
The forty-nine year old said he immediately told Afton Smith, who was his wife at the time, what had happened. He told her he felt as if someone had thrown invisible paint on him. He became incredibly depressed after the incident, which contributed to his decline in acting.
Berk disputed Fraser’s allegations, saying it was a total fabrication. In his autobiography, Berk reported the incident as having been the object of a joke, that he had pinched Fraser on the behind and that Fraser had pinched him back. Berk admitted writing a letter to Fraser after the incident occurred, saying that if he did anything to upset him, he was sorry, but that he hadn’t admitted to any wrongdoing. Berk further commented that the decline of Fraser’s career was through no fault of the HFPA. However, Fraser says he felt as though he was blacklisted by the HFPA due to the incident because he was rarely invited to the Golden Globes after that year. While he didn’t go public with what happened, he did report it to HFPA. He believes silence was their answer. He said ”the silence was deafening.”
In addition to feeling miserable about the situation and blaming himself, several other factors, including a troubled marriage and a litany of health problems, caused Fraser’s depression to spiral out of control. He even thought he deserved what had happened. Furthermore, he felt he had reached his physical prime in 1997 with George of the Jungle and had been deteriorating ever since. It would seem that performing his own stunts had began to take a toll on him physically. Furthermore, he claims he was put together with tape and ice for filming of the third Mummy movie, basically making an exoskeleton for himself.
Fraser says he’s basically been in and out of the hospital for the last seven years. He first had to have a lumbar laminectomy, where they remove a portion of vertebra in the lower back in order to create more room. He then had to have the surgery performed a second time, after the first time failed to create enough room in his spinal canal. His knee had to be partially replaced, he had additional back surgery, and he even had surgery on his vocal chords.
As for the incident with Berk, Fraser says that maybe he over-reacted ”in terms of what the instance was”, but he says that he knows what his truth is.
Former NFL player and actor Terry Crews tweeted, saying that Fraser was courageous for telling what happened and that Fraser’s assault was similar to his own, also ending with the assailant explaining his actions away. Crews was in support of Fraser’s telling his side of the story, conceding that what is horseplay to one is humiliation to another.