'I felt ill': Brendan Fraser describes sexual assault that nearly made him quit acting

Remember Brendan Fraser? 10 years ago, he was one of Hollywood's biggest stars. Then, he suddenly disappeared.

If you were a kid in the late '90s and early '00s, chances are you saw a Brendan Fraser movie. The comedy and action star catapulted to fame behind blockbusters like "The Mummy" franchise, "George of the Jungle," "Looney Tunes: Back in Action," and the Oscar-winning film "Crash."

But after 2008, he largely disappeared from major starring roles. His absence wasn't due to drugs, a sex-scandal, or illness — despite memes and even reported articles speculating about his career arc, with many blaming it on poor career choices.


Fraser revealed in a recent interview that an incident of sexual harassment led him to withdraw from his high-profile lifestyle.

Lately, the actor has gradually returned to more high-profile roles, and in an interview with GQ, he explained that the real reason he stepped back from the spotlight was because of being physically groped by Philip Berk, a former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

In his own book, Berk admitted to "pinching" Fraser in the buttocks after an event, but Fraser says the incident was much worse. "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."

"I felt ill. I felt like a little kid," he told GQ. "I felt like there was a ball in my throat. I thought I was going to cry."

He said it's time to speak out, and other male victims of harassment are supporting him.

Berk has called the allegation a "total fabrication" but acknowledges he sent Fraser an apology letter after the incident when the actor complained to the HFPA. Fraser said he tried to bury his feelings about the incident, but he was moved into action after seeing actresses and actors speaking up at this year's Golden Globes.

“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."

Despite his reservations, people seem to believe, and be genuinely moved by, Fraser's claim. Once the target of jokes, Fraser has become a catalyst for moving praise across social media.

He's also earned some public support from actor Terry Crews, who has publicly discussed experiencing a similar incident years ago.

"Brendan is amazingly courageous in telling this," Crews wrote on Twitter. "His assault experience is extremely similar to mine — ending with the assailant explaining away his actions. One man's 'horseplay' is another man's humiliation."

Victims of sexual harassment and assault often face deep shame and fear in speaking out. Speaking out takes courage.

Speaking out after experiencing harassment or assault can be an incredible challenge, often full of personal and professional risk. Though the majority of assaults are against women, men face their own similar challenges in overcoming shame, doubt, and repercussions for coming forward and speaking out. When men like Fraser and Crews speak out, they help clear the path for other men to come forward with their own stories.

Canva

As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.

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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

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The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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