UPDATE at 3:30pm PT on 2/2/2018: The Hollywood Foreign Press Association issued the following statement about the allegations: "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."
Brendan Fraser has finally come clean as to why he stepped away from Hollywood in 2003, and in doing so shared his #MeToo moment.
According to a new interview with GQ, an ass grab "in jest" by former Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Philip Berk was actually an aggressive sexual assault he couldn't get past for a long time.
"Am I still frightened? Absolutely. Do I feel like I need to say something? Absolutely. Have I wanted to many, many times? Absolutely. Have I stopped myself? Absolutely," Fraser said, trying to explain the whirlwind of thoughts and emotions swimming through his mind as he finally decided to tell his story.
The basics of the assault had been told before, in Fraser's memoir and in a piece by The New York Times. But that version of events was that Berk grabbed his butt "in jest," as Berk described it. Now, Fraser went into graphic detail about how the moment was anything but playful.
"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. He recalled panic and fear, but eventually he was able to move 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 immediately left the event and didn't say a word to anyone except his wife at the time. In an email statement to GQ, Berk denied this version of the event in question, writing, "Mr. Fraser's version is a total fabrication."
Like many of the other survivors of sexual assault, Fraser said he didn't want the assault to become part of his narrative, following him around and resurfacing those feelings. He tried to minimize what had happened, telling himself, "This is nothing; this guy reached around and he copped a feel."
Fraser wonders if the HFPA blacklisted him, but Berk defended the organization, saying, "His career declined through no fault of ours." But as he watched Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino -- all women he's worked with -- speak their truths and wear black at the Golden Globes, which is thrown by the HFPA, he was emboldened. Then he saw that Berk was in the room.
This story didn't even come out in the initial interviews. Fraser called the reporter later and asked if they could talk again as there was something else he needed to get off his chest, saying he didn't have "the courage to speak up for risk of humiliation, or damage to my career."
This revelation informed an earlier discussion about how enthusiastic Fraser was about playing his own stunt double in the 2003 film "Looney Tunes: Back in Action." One of the reasons he later realized he was excited about for that role was that his character gets to deck Brendan Fraser toward the end of that film. "I think I wanted to knock myself out. I wanted to take the piss out of myself before someone else would, 'cause I had it in my head that I had it coming."
And still Fraser casts doubt on himself. "And maybe I am over-reacting in terms of what the instance was. I just know what my truth is. And it's what I just spoke to you," he told the reporter.
Brendan Fraser is back to working extremely hard, as he did through much of his career. He recently filmed two television series simultaneously, the upcoming "Condor" on Audience, and "Trust" for FX, and has two films in post-production, "Behind the Curtain of Night" and "The Field." Welcome back!