Brendan Fraser Says Former HFPA President Sexually Assaulted Him and Derailed His Career

In an interview with GQ, Brendan Fraser  claimed that former Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Philip Berk sexually assaulted him in the summer of 2003  

Brendan Fraser is the latest actor to come forward with his story of sexual assault in the wake of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements.

In a new interview with GQ published on Thursday, the Mummy star, 49, claims that former Hollywood Foreign Press Association (the non-profit organization that votes for the Golden Globe awards) president Philip Berk sexually assaulted him in the summer of 2003, while at a luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel — an alleged incident Berk disputes. The actor says he believes he was blacklisted in Hollywood partly due to the aftermath of the alleged incident.

According to Fraser, the assault happened when Berk reached out to shake Fraser’s hand on his way out of the hotel. “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 claimed.

The alleged incident left Fraser overcome with panic and fear. “I felt ill,” he said, recalling his emotions after he removed Berk’s hand. “I felt like a little kid. 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.”

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Though he told his wife, Afton, about what had happened at the time, Fraser told GQ‘s Zach Baron that he didn’t have “the courage to speak up” earlier, “for risk of humiliation, or damage to my career.”

“I didn’t want to contend with how that made me feel, or it becoming part of my narrative,” he added.

He did have his reps ask the HFPA for a written apology, telling GQ that the HFPA agreed they would never allow Berk in a room with Fraser again. (Reps for Fraser and the HFPA did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment).

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“The HFPA stands firmly against sexual harassment and the type of behavior described in this article,” the associated said in an official statement. “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.”

Berk, who is still a member of the HFPA, also did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment but has denied the assault ever happened to The New York Times.

“Mr. Fraser’s version is a total fabrication,” he also said in a statement to GQ, acknowledging that he wrote a letter to Fraser about the alleged incident. “My apology admitted no wrongdoing, the usual ‘If I’ve done anything that upset Mr. Fraser, it was not intended and I apologize.’”

In his 2014 memoir With Signs and Wonders: My Journey from Darkest Africa to the Bright Lights of Hollywood, Berk recounted the incident too — saying he pinched Frasier’s ass “in jest.”

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While other factors contributed to the downward momentum of his career, Fraser tells GQ that his alleged experience with Berk “made [him] retreat” and “feel reclusive.”

“[I] became depressed,” he said, recounting how he told himself he deserved what happened to him. “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 recalled. “[Work] withered on the vine for me. In my mind, at least, something had been taken away from me.”

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Fraser also wondered if the HFPA had blacklisted him. “I don’t know if this curried disfavor with the group, with the HFPA. But the silence was deafening,” he said, adding that he was rarely invited back to the Globes after 2003. (Berk denies that the HFPA retaliated against Fraser, telling GQ, “His career declined through no fault of ours”).

Even after speaking about his allegations, Fraser still feels uneasy. “Am I still frightened? Absolutely,” he says. “Do I feel like I need to say something? Absolutely. Have I wanted to many, many times? Absolutely. Have I stopped myself? Absolutely.”

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