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Brendan Fraser is favored to win the Academy Award for his work on The Whale later this year so, when the actor was a no-show at this week’s 2023 Golden Globe Awards, fans started wondering why.
Brendan received a nod for best actor in a drama motion picture for The Whale, his heartbreaking comeback movie that debuted to overwhelmingly positive reviews at the 79th Venice Film Festival in September.
Brendan didn't actually win the Golden Globe, which was given to Austin Butler for Elvis, so the 54-year-old actor would not have gone on stage regardless. However, given the importance of his latest role, his absence was a curious one.
In 2018, Brendan made a sexual assault allegation against Philip Berk, the former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the nonprofit organization of journalists and photographers who founded and conducts the Golden Globes ceremony.
Talking to GQ (opens in new tab) back then, Brendan recounted what happened at the Beverly Hills Hotels during a luncheon by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in the summer of 2003.
According to the actor, Philip reached out to shake his hand and ended up pinching his ass.
"His left hand reaches around, grabs my ass cheek, and one of his fingers touches me in the taint," Brendan said to the outlet. "And he starts moving it around."
He went on to recount his panic at what had just happened. "I felt ill," he said. "I felt like a little kid. I felt like there was a ball in my throat. I thought I was going to cry."
Although the actor ran home and told his then-wife Afton Smith about the episode, he ultimately decided not to immediately go public with it. His reps did request Philip send Brendan a written apology, which he did, but Philip himself has gone on the record to say, "My apology admitted no wrongdoing, the usual 'If I've done anything that upset Mr. Fraser, it was not intended and I apologize.' "
After the explosive GQ piece came out, the nonprofit released a statement that read, "The HFPA stands firmly against sexual harassment and the type of behavior described in this article."
Fast-forward to today and, again talking to GQ, Brendan made it immediately clear that he would not show up at the event despite his important nomination.
"I have more history with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association than I have respect for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association," he noted. "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."
In the same article, Brendan also revealed that, after promising to investigate the matter, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association suggested they release a joint statement that basically indicated that, although Philip did inappropriately touch Brendan, "the evidence supports that it was intended to be taken as a joke and not as a sexual advance."
For his part, Philip actually remained a voting member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association until 2021, the year he was kicked off for sharing an article in an email to his co-members that described Black Lives Matter as a "racist hate movement."
Anna Rahmanan is a New York-based writer and editor who covers culture, entertainment, food, fashion and travel news. Anna’s words have appeared on Time Out New York, the Huffington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Us Weekly, Bon Appetit and Brooklyn Magazine, among other outlets.
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