Brendan Fraser won't be at the 2023 Golden Globe Awards, despite being favored to win in the Best Actor category. In a GQ profile, the 53-year-old actor, who's earned critical acclaim for his performance in The Whale, reveals that he won't attend the ceremony due to an alleged 2003 sexual assault incident that he first opened up about to the same outlet in 2018.
"I have more history with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association than I have respect for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association," Fraser says of the group that puts on the Golden Globes. "No, I will not participate. It's because of 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."
Years ago, Fraser alleged that Philip Berk, a former president and member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, had groped and assaulted him at a 2003 luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Berk previously called Fraser's account "a total fabrication." The HFPA launched an investigation in response to Fraser's allegation and told the outlet that they "stand firmly against sexual harassment and the type of behavior described."
Then, Fraser alleged that, after the HFPA concluded their investigation, they proposed issuing a joint statement that read in part, "although it was concluded that Mr. Berk inappropriately touched Mr. Fraser, the evidence supports that it was intended to be taken as a joke and not as a sexual advance." Fraser refused to sign the press release and told the HFPA, "I don't get the joke."
Fraser additionally claimed that the HFPA declined to share the full results of their investigation with him, or explain what methodology or evidence they used to draw their conclusion. Meanwhile, Berk confirmed to the outlet that he was still an active member of the HFPA and, in terms of discipline from the organization, said he received "none at all."
"It's about being stripped of your identity, and of a power play being pulled to tamp it down, and being sort of backhandedly complicit in it by keeping quiet, entering into an agreement that you won't talk," Fraser told GQ in 2018. "... "I wanted them to have every opportunity to change this... They can still do the right thing."
Fraser claims the HFPA never apologized to him, which the organization disputes. Berk said he wrote Fraser a letter about the alleged incident, but noted that it admitted "no wrongdoing... the usual 'If I've done anything that upset Mr. Fraser, it was not intended and I apologize.'"
In his most recent GQ profile, Fraser explains why he wasn't surprised by how he says the HFPA handled his allegation.
"I knew they would close ranks. I knew they would kick the can down the road," he says. "I knew they would get ahead of the story. I knew that I certainly had no future with that system as it was."
The Golden Globes went on as normal in 2018, Fraser believes, "because it was too prickly or sharp-edged or icky for people to want to go first and invest emotionally in the situation."
While things seemingly stayed the same at the HFPA, Fraser's life changed as a result of telling his story.
"I heard from college friends, people I hadn't worked with or seen going back 30 years of my career," he says. "... It’s like people know what you look like, they know the story about you, [but mostly it was] liberating. It was a weight removed."
Then, in 2021, the HFPA was thrust into the spotlight again, this time for having no Black members and for a series of ethical and financial conflicts. Berk was publicly expelled from the organization later that year for sharing an article that called Black Lives Matter "a racist hate movement." NBC declined to air the ceremony in 2022 but decided to do so in 2023 after making a series of reforms.
"At the moment, no," Fraser says of if he believes in the HFPA's reforms. "Maybe time will tell if they’re going to... I don’t know what they’re going to do. I don’t know."
As for what it would take for him to believe in potential reforms, Fraser says, "According to rules of engagement, it would be my responsibility to take a look at it and make a determination at that time, if that became the situation. And it would have to be, I don't know, what's the word I'm looking for... sincere?"
"I would want some gesture of making medicine out of poison somehow. I don’t know what that is. But that would be my hope. But it’s not about me," Fraser says, adding that, whatever the HFPA did, he "would expect that it would be something that would be meaningful for them too."
Fraser said that while he gets "triggered every now and then" and feels "a heart palpitation" when he discusses the alleged incident, he hopes that he can "be recognized at this time in my life and career for my professional efforts, rather than the trope of the comeback kid as being a standard in culture, sports, coming from behind, being written off and then coming back."
Despite his issues with the HFPA, Fraser tells GQ that he's all-in on promoting The Whale during the upcoming awards season.
"I owe it to myself. I owe it to the filmmakers. I know I owe it to those fans who paid to come and see me and stand in line in the sun and, you know, all of that," he says. "I owe it to my kids. This is my shot."