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Brendan Fraser Moved To Tears As His Return To Acting Following Groping Allegation Receives Standing Ovation

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Brendan Fraser, standing ovation

A heartwarming video of Brendan Fraser appearing emotional while receiving a six-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival premiere of The Whale, a new Darren Aronofsky film in which Fraser stars, has marked the actor's triumphant return to Hollywood.

"Why happened to Brendan Fraser?" and "Why doesn't Brendan Fraser act anymore?" were questions fans of the actor may have been asking since his retreat out of the spotlight over the 2000s and 2010s.

"The George Of The Jungle" star slipped into obscurity after a string of personal tragedies and the film industry's cruel response to an allegation he made against a Hollywood Foreign Press Association president.

Fans will remember a heartbreaking 2018 interview in which he alleged that a groping incident had pushed him out of acting.

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His career revival instills hope that speaking out against sexual assault can be triumphant and healing. 

What happened to Brendan Fraser?

Actor Brendan Fraser accused a former Hollywood Foreign Press Association president of groping him in 2003. The 52-year-old said that one of the reasons he's stayed out of the spotlight for so many years is because of the alleged incident. 

Brendan Fraser accused Philip Berk of groping him.

Fraser claims Philip Berk — the HFPA president at the time — assaulted him while at a luncheon in 2003.

The "Journey To The Center Of The Earth" actor said he was leaving the event when Berk approached him with a handshake to say goodbye before allegedly groping him. 

"His left hand reaches around, grabs my a-- cheek, and one of his fingers touches me in the taint," he told GQ in an interview revealing the reasons behind his career decline.

"And then he starts moving it around."

Berk had previously claimed in his memoir that he pinched Fraser's butt in jest. 

Fraser, however, says the incident left him overwhelmed with "panic and fear."

"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."

The actor quickly left the room and told his wife at the time, Afton Smith, what happened. Fraser said he has since blamed himself for the incident. 

Philip Berk denies Brendan Fraser's groping allegations. 

Fraser said he didn't come out with these allegations before because he was afraid of damaging his career. 

Rather than speak out, Fraser asked Berk for a written apology. Berk told GQ that he did write to Fraser, but that his apology admitted no wrongdoing. He denies the allegations. 

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"I became depressed," Fraser said of the aftermath. "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 to work on next." 

Speculation began to swirl in the 2010s over Fraser's acting career after he didn't star in the "The Mummy" triology reboot. 

Why did Brendan Fraser stop acting? 

Fraser said the alleged groping incident made him "retreat" and caused him to become "reclusive," distancing him from the spotlight. 

He wondered if the HFPA had blacklisted him but Berk claims Fraser's career decline was unrelated to the accusation. 

Fraser said, “withered on the vine for me. In my mind, at least, something had been taken away from me.”

Fraser said that after the incident, the HFPA rarely invited him back to the Golden Globes. 

Philip Berk was investigated by the HFPA.

Fraser's claims were investigated but the actor has criticized the conclusion of the inquiry. 

“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,” the HFPA concluded. 

“I don’t get the joke,” Fraser told GQ. “I’m the only one who would know where I was touched on my body."

Berk was later ousted from the HFPA in 2021 for reportedly emailing an article to his fellow members that described Black Lives Matter as a “racist hate movement.”

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Alice Kelly is YourTango's Deputy News and Entertainment Editor. Based out of Brooklyn, New York, her work covers all things social justice, pop culture, and human interest. Keep up with her Twitter for more.

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