Brendan Fraser will not attend Golden Globes after alleging he was groped by ex-HFPA president

Brendan Fraser has announced he will not attend next year’s Golden Globes, despite being tipped for award season glory for his comeback movie The Whale.

He alleged four years ago that his career ‘withered on a vine’ after he was groped in 2003 by Philip Berk, a former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which is the organization behind the Golden Globes.

Fraser, 53, has claimed he brought the matter to the HFPA at the time, prompting an internal investigation that dismissed Berk’s alleged sexual misconduct as ‘a joke.’

Berk, 89, who was ejected from the HFPA last year after emailing members an article calling Black Lives Matter a ‘racist hate group,’ has disputed Fraser’s account. 

Now in a new interview with GQ, Fraser declared he ‘will not participate’ in the Golden Globes in January. ‘I have more history with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association than I have respect for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.’

Accusation: He alleged four years ago that his career 'withered on a vine' after he was groped in 2003 by Philip Berk (pictured 2006), a former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Standing firm: Brendan Fraser (pictured left last month) will not attend next year’s Golden Globes after his groping allegation against ex-HFPA president Philip Berk (pictured right 2006)

He attributed his decision to ‘the history that I have with them. And my mother didn’t raise a hypocrite. You can call me a lot of things, but not that.’ 

Fraser added that when he took his allegation to the HFPA: ‘I knew they would close ranks. I knew they would kick the can down the road. I knew they would get ahead of the story. I knew that I certainly had no future with that system as it was.’ 

He did continue to attend the Golden Globes after 2003, sitting in the audience at the ceremony as recently as 2010, when Berk was president of the HFPA.

A teaser for The Whale shows the former Hollywood hunk looking unrecognizable in his lead role of Charlie, a 600-pound gay man confined to a wheelchair.

Back at it: Brendan has already embarked on an emotional film festival tour for the December release of The Whale, which marks the actor's first Hollywood project in almost 10 years

Back at it: Brendan has already embarked on an emotional film festival tour for the December release of The Whale, which marks the actor’s first Hollywood project in almost 10 years

Transformation: The short one minute teaser shows the former Hollywood hunk looking unrecognisable in his lead role of Charlie, a 600-pound gay man confined to a wheelchair

Transformation: The short one minute teaser shows the former Hollywood hunk looking unrecognisable in his lead role of Charlie, a 600-pound gay man confined to a wheelchair

Brendan has already embarked on an emotional film festival tour for the December release, which marks the actor’s first Hollywood project in almost 10 years and his first lead role in a movie since straight-to-DVD thriller Breakout in 2013. 

The movie had its premiere at the Venice International Film Festival in September, where Fraser got emotional onstage  during a standing ovation after the screening. 

He subsequently broke down again during another lengthy ovation at the London Film Festival screening last month.

His emotional display comes after a lengthy battle with depression, which he said he plunged into after he was  allegedly sexually assaulted by Berk in 2003. 

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Brendan also revealed in a 2018 GQ interview in the wake of the #MeToo movement that he believed he had been blacklisted from Hollywood after he claimed he had been sexually assaulted by Berk in 2003.

Rising star: Stranger Things star Sadie Sink also appears in the trailer as Charlie's daughter Ellie, who is struggling to reconnect with her estranged father

Rising star: Stranger Things star Sadie Sink also appears in the trailer as Charlie’s daughter Ellie, who is struggling to reconnect with her estranged father

Emotional first look: Hong Chau, who plays Charlie's friend and caregiver is shown crying in the teaser as Charlie tells her 'People are amazing'

Emotional first look: Hong Chau, who plays Charlie’s friend and caregiver is shown crying in the teaser as Charlie tells her ‘People are amazing’

Fraser alleged he was leaving a luncheon hosted by the HFPA at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Hollywood when Berk shook his hand.

Fraser said: ‘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.’

The actor 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.’

Fraser claimed he was able to remove Berk’s hand before running out of the hotel and going straight home. He told his then wife, actress Afton Smith, about the incident but never made it public.

Comeback: Brendan received a five-minute standing ovation at a London screening of The Whale last month – his Hollywood return after a lengthy battle with depression

Comeback: Brendan received a five-minute standing ovation at a London screening of The Whale last month – his Hollywood return after a lengthy battle with depression

Brendan first shot to fame as a Hollywood heartthrob while starring in a series of big-hit movies like George of the Jungle (seen) and The Mummy

Brendan first shot to fame as a Hollywood heartthrob while starring in a series of big-hit movies like George of the Jungle (seen) and The Mummy 

Instead, his reps asked Berk for a written apology, which he provided, but did not admit any wrongdoing.

Speaking to GQ about the claims, Berk acknowledged he had written a letter of apology to Fraser but insisted he had not done anything wrong and dismissed Fraser’s account as ‘a total fabrication’.

After Fraser reported the claim to the HFPA he said he believed he may have been ‘blacklisted’ and was rarely invited back to the Golden Globe Awards.

Fraser said the incident had caused him to ‘retreat’ as he spiraled into depression. He described feeling ‘not worthy’ as the decade wore on, leading him to take roles he was less proud of. 

In the same interview, Brendan revealed the beating his body had taken after trashing around sets performing stunts in high-action roles for such film franchise as The Mummy and George Of The Jungle.

He told GQ in 2018 that when he filmed the third installment in The Mummy franchise, he was being taped up and was icing injuries in between takes.

‘By the time I did the third Mummy picture in China [in 2008], I was put together with tape and ice… because they’re small and light and they can fit under your clothes. I was building an exoskeleton for myself daily,’ he recalled.

Eventually the injuries he received while performing his stunts required multiple surgeries. He needed a lumbar laminectomy, a surgery that removes the back portion of a vertebra in the lower back, to create more room within the spinal canal.

However, it didn’t take and it had to be done again a year later. He had a partial knee replacement, more back surgery involving bolting various compressed spinal pads together and even surgery to repair his vocal cords.

Brendan said he was in and out of hospitals for almost seven years.

Meanwhile, his marriage was also falling apart. He divorced Afton in 2007 after nine years of marriage and three sons together, Griffin, Leland and Holden. As part of the settlement, he was ordered to pay $50,000 a month in spousal support.

However in 2013 he sought an amendment to the agreement asking to pay less, claiming he wasn’t earning the same enormous checks he had received in the 1990s during his heyday and couldn’t afford the payments.

The Whale is based on the off-Broadway play of the same name, written by Samuel D. Hunter, who came on board as the screenwriter for the film. It also stars Hong Chau, Samantha Morton and Ty Simpkins.

Director Darren Aronofsky, known for helming films such as The Wrestler (2008), Mother! (2017) and Black Swan (2010), which earned him an Academy Award nomination, first saw the play in 2012 and asked the writer to work on a screenplay.

Comeback: The film is set to hit theaters on December 9, and marks Brendan's first lead role in a movie since thriller Breakout in 2013

Well-received: The Whale is a psychological drama which saw Brendan undergo a physical transformation, as well as wear prosthetics to play a man 'living with obesity'

Well-received: The Whale is a psychological drama for which Brendan (seen left at the premiere and right in the movie) underwent a physical transformation and wore prosthetics to play a man ‘living with obesity’

It took the pair close to a decade to get the project off the ground though, largely due to the unfruitful search for a leading man.

‘I thought about every movie star playing Charlie, and it never made sense or clicked,’ the director told Vanity Fair last month. 

‘If there’s no risk, then why bother?’ Brendan explained of his first conversations with the director. ‘I want to learn from the people I’m working with at this point in my career.’

‘I’ve had such variety, a lot of high highs and low lows, so what I’m keen for, in the second half of my time doing this, is to feel like I’m contributing to the craft and I’m learning from it. This is a prime opportunity. I wanted to disappear into it. My hope was that I would become unrecognizable.’ 

Brendan said in an interview at last month’s Toronto Film Festival that his confidence is up amid the glowing reviews he’s received for his work in The Whale.

‘So often, I have just felt like a working actor who was glad to have a job: “What do you got? I’ll do it,”’ he said, according to the Toronto Star. ‘And that’s a different guy than who I am right now.’

He added: ‘In recent years, when I was a bit more reticent to step forward – have a life with kids and an oldest son with special needs, another kid who’s going to be a senior now and another one who is [learning] to drive and he’s picking up guitar – I think it just gave me a sense of purpose that I don’t know that I would have appreciated as a younger man.’

Director Aronofsky said of Fraser’s presence in the motion picture: ‘It’s the right actor, for the right part, at the right time.’

The Whale will be released in the US on December 9 2022 and in the UK on February 3 2023. 

The Whale: Reviews  

THE INDEPENDENT 

Rating:

Geoffrey Macnab writes: ‘Fraser retains the genial qualities which made him so popular with audiences in mainstream 1990s movies. He demands honesty from his students but there’s nothing cynical about him.

‘The pathos is laid on very thick. At times, you wonder why a filmmaker as sophisticated as Aronofsky is resorting to such manipulative tactics. Beneath all its blubber, though, this turns out to be a film with a very big heart.’

NEW YORK POST

Rating:

Johnny Oleksinski writes:  ‘Fraser, so good, takes what could be a joke, a flat tragedy, or even a lecture about weight and imbues it with gorgeous humanity… It’s a testament to the storytelling that a character so different from so many moviegoers can make us so powerfully contemplate our own lives.’

BBC

Rating:

Nicholas Barber writes: ‘Fraser richly deserves to be nominated for a best actor Oscar, and if that doesn’t happen, I won’t just eat my hat, I’ll eat as many pizzas and cheese-and-meatball sandwiches as Charlie gets through in the film. The Brenaissance is here.’ 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Leah Greenblatt writes:  ‘Brendan Fraser’s astonishing turn in The Whale is a tender, modest, and momentously human piece of work plonked in the midst of a drama so masochistically stilted and stagey it often feels less like a movie than an endurance test, or even worse, a parody.’

VARIETY 

Owen Gleiberman writes: ‘The Whale, while it has a captivating character at its center, turns out to be equal parts sincerity and hokum. The movie carries us along, tethering the audience to Fraser’s intensely lived-in and touching performance, yet the more it goes on the more its drama is interlaced with nagging contrivances’

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