Brendan Fraser blames career woes in part on 2003 groping accusation against former HFPA president

Brendan Fraser knows his career nowadays isn’t what it used to be — and he believes some of the blame stems from a groping incident involving former Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Philip Berk that he reported nearly 15 years before the #MeToo movement emerged to support accusers.

In a new GQ article, Fraser remembers a 2003 incident that Berk himself recounted in his memoir and that was reported by TheWrap founder Sharon Waxman, who at the time worked for The New York Times. Although Berk said he “pinched” Fraser’s butt, the actor himself says it was more than that.

“His left hand reaches around, grabs my a– cheek, and one of his fingers touches me in the taint. And he starts moving it around,” Fraser told GQ. When he was finally able to remove Berk’s hand, he added, “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.”

The “Mummy” star said he rushed out of the room, past a police officer whom he couldn’t get himself to confess to and ran home to tell his then-wife about the incident. According to GQ, Berk, who is still an HFPA member, disputed Fraser’s account and called it a “total fabrication.”

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THE AMERICAN ACTOR BRENDAN FRASER (Photo by mikel roberts/Sygma via Getty Images)
Brendan Fraser, Randall Batinkoff, Matt Damon, and Andrew Lowery (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Brendan Fraser during '1492: Conquest of Paradise' Los Angeles Premiere at Academy Theater in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Actor Brendan Fraser. (Photo by Dave Allocca/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Brendan Fraser at Tunnel Club, New York, New York, April 7, 1994. (Photo by Steve Eichner/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 26: Actor Brendan Fraser, actor Joe Pesci and actor Patrick Dempsey attend the 'With Honors' West Hollywood Premiere on April 26, 1994 at the DGA Theatre in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
UNITED STATES - circa 1995: Actor Brendan Fraser with his wife Afton Smith. (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Brendan Fraser during 'Now and Then' Los Angeles Premiere at Mann's Village Theater in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - circa 1995: Actor Brendan Fraser with his wife Afton Smith. (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Brendan Fraser and Afton Smith during 'I Shot Andy Warhol' Los Angeles Premiere at Cinerama Dome Theater in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Brendan Fraser and wife during 1999 Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 9: Brendan Fraser and Afton Smith attend 11th Annual Critics' Choice Awards - Arrivals at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on January 9, 2006 in Santa Monica, CA. (Photo by Chad Buchanan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
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(Original Caption) Arrival of Brendan Fraser, who co-stars in the film, with his wife the actress Afton Smith. (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)
Brendan Fraser (star of film) arrives at the premiere of 'The Mummy Returns.' (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)
Brendan Fraser during The 8th Annual Critics' Choice Awards - Beverly Hills at Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Brendan Fraser and Afton Smith during The 60th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 9: Actors Jenna Elfman and Brendan Fraser pose at the premiere of 'Looney Tunes: Back in Action' at the Chinese Theater on November 9, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 23: Actor Brendan Fraser (centre), wife Afton Smith and author Jackie Collins (right) during the cocktail reception for the 16th Carousel of Hope presented by Mercedes-Benz benefiting the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 23, 2004 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - APRIL 28: Actor Brendan Fraser attends the premiere of 'Journey To The End Of The Night' during the 5th Annual Tribeca Film Festival April 28, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for TFF)
Mos Def and Brendan Fraser during 5th Annual Tribeca Film Festival - 'Journey to the End of the Night' Premiere - After Party - Premiere Film & Music Lounge at PM Night Club at PM Night Club in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Carley Margolis/FilmMagic)
WESTWOOD, CA - MARCH 29: Actor Brendan Fraser and TV peronality Ryan Seacrest attends Nickelodeon?s 2008 Kids? Choice Awards on March 29, 2008 at the Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for Nickelodeon)
CULVER CITY, CA - MAY 30: Actor Brendan Fraser arrives at the taping for Spike TV's 2nd Annual 'Guys Choice' Awards held at Sony Studios on May 30, 2008 in Culver City, California. The show airs on June 22, 2008 at 10PM ET/PT on Spike TV. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 12: Actor Brendan Fraser poses as the Grand Marshal for the NASCAR Sprint Cup LifeLock.com 400 race at the Chicagoland Speedway on July 12, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Kevin Kane/WireImage)
Actor Brendan Fraser attends 'The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon' press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel on July 15, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Vera Anderson/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 16: Actors Jet Li (L) and Brendan Fraser arrive at the 2008 ESPY Awards held at NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE on July 16, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. The 2008 ESPYs will air on Sunday, July 20 at 9PM ET on ESPN. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
BERLIN - JULY 23: Actress Maria Bello and actor Brendan Fraser attend the 'The Mummy' photocall on July 23, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Anita Bugge/WireImage)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - JULY 27: Actor Brendan Fraser arrives at the American Premiere of 'The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor at the Gibson Amphitheatre on July 26, 2008 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
NEW YORK - JANUARY 15: Actor Brendan Fraser attends the premiere of 'Inkheart' at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 on January 15, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
*EXCLUSIVE* Actor Brendan Fraser and guest attends the 2010 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at the Sunset Tower Hotel on March 7, 2010 in West Hollywood, California. ***EXCLUSIVE ACCESS SPECIAL RATES APPLY; NO NORTH AMERICAN ON-AIR BROADCAST UNTIL MARCH 14TH, 2010*** ***Exclusive*** (Photo by Jeff Vespa/VF1/WireImage)
WESTWOOD, CA - APRIL 18: Actor Brendan Fraser (L) and actress Brooke Shields attend the 'Furry Vengeance' film premiere at the Bruin Theatre, Westwood on April 18, 2010 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21: Actors Brendan Fraser, Yaya DaCosta and Colm Meaney walk the red carpet at the 'Whole Lotta Sole' Premiere at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival at the School of Visual Arts on April 21, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
EAST HAMPTON, NY - OCTOBER 06: Brendan Fraser attend the 'Whole Lotta Sole' screening during the 20th Hamptons International Film Festival at United Artists Regal Cinema on October 6, 2012 in East Hampton, New York. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 22: Actor Brendan Fraser attends the 'Gimme Shelter' screening hosted by Roadside Attractions and Day 28 Films with The Cinema Society on January 22, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Brendan Fraser attends the 2014 A+E Networks Upfront at Park Avenue Armory on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 14: Actor Brendan Fraser attends Build Series to discuss 'The Affair' at AOL HQ on December 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Zak Photography/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 20: Actor Brendan Fraser poses for a portrait during the Tribeca Film Festival at Tribeca Grill Loft on April 20, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jean Claude Dhien/Getty Images Portrait)
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 05: Brendan Fraser attends the 2018 Winter TCA Tour - FX Starwalk on January 05, 2018 in Pasadena, California.(Photo by JB Lacroix/ WireImage)
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 11: Brendan Fraser of the television show 'Condor' speaks onstage during the AT&T AUDIENCE Network 2018 Winter TCA on January 11, 2018 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for DIRECTV)
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The HFPA, best known for overseeing the annual Golden Globes Awards, has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Although he thought about going public with the story, Fraser explained, he decided he didn’t “want to contend with how that made me feel, or it becoming part of my narrative.” But the memory stayed with him, and he asked the HFPA for a written apology, and according to him, the HFPA said Berk would never be allowed in a room with Fraser again. Berk denied that to GQ.

“I became depressed,” he said. “I was blaming myself and I was miserable — because I was saying, ‘This is nothing; this guy reached around and he copped a feel.’ That summer wore on — and I can’t remember what I went on to work on next.”

He added that the experience “made me retreat. It made me feel reclusive,” and he wondered whether the HFPA blacklisted him afterward.

“I don’t know if this curried disfavor with the group, with the HFPA,” he said. “But the silence was deafening.” Berk told GQ the HFPA did not retaliate against Fraser and that his career declined “through no fault of ours.”

But Fraser said work “withered on the vine for me. In my mind, at least, something had been taken away from me.” The actor said medical and marital issues, as well as the death of his mother in 2016, also contributed to the decline of his career.

He added, “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. 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.”

Fraser most recently starred in 2014’s “The Nut Job” and will next star in the TV series “Condor” and “Trust.” He also has “The Field” and “Behind the Curtain of the Night” lined up this year. His biggest hits include “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” “George of the Jungle,” and “The Mummy” franchise.

Read Fraser’s interview here.

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