Why Brendan Fraser won’t be attending the Golden Globes – even if he’s nominated

Written by Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

“My mother didn’t raise a hypocrite,” says Brendan Fraser. 

Brendan Fraser was a staple part of our movie diet in the 90s and 00s. He gave us a swoonworthy (as well as a non-threatening and deeply respectful) romantic hero in The Mummy. Then there was his flawed protagonist in Bedazzled and his meatier, more serious role in the controversial Crash – and let’s not forget that Fraser gave us the original ‘himbo’, too, thanks to his starring role in George Of The Jungle.

For a very long time, though, Fraser has been largely absent from the Hollywood circuit. So, yes, you better believe that his fans are excited that the actor is making his cinematic resurgence opposite Stranger Things’ Sadie Sink in The Whale… especially as his performance is already generating some serious awards buzz.

Brendan Fraser and Sadie Sink attend the premiere of The Whale at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.

However, Fraser has now made it abundantly clear that he will not attend the Golden Globes ceremony in January. And that’s even if he is nominated, as he is widely expected to be. 

“I have more history with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association than I have respect for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association,” he explains to GQ. “No, I will not participate.”

Explaining his reasoning, Fraser added: “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.”

It is worth noting that, in his GQ profile back in 2018, Fraser publicly accused Philip Berk, a former president and member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association – the organisation behind the Golden Globes – of groping and assaulting him in 2003. Berk has denied the allegation describing Fraser’s description of events as a “total fabrication”.

The Whale has been praised by critics, but it has also been accused of being fatphobic.

After the article came out, the HFPA issued a statement saying, in part: “The HFPA stands firmly against sexual harassment and the type of behaviour described in this article.”

However, Fraser has now said that, after promising to investigate, the HFPA ultimately came back to him with a proposed joint statement that he said was unacceptable.

Fraser refused to sign the statement, and Berk remained a voting member of the HFPA until 2021, when he was expelled for sharing an article describing Black Lives Matter as a “racist hate movement” in an email to his fellow members.

To this date, Fraser says that the HFPA has yet to extend an apology to him – although he added that if they should do so now, then “it would have to be, I don’t know, what’s the word I’m looking for… sincere?”

Noting that the experience left him feeling as if “something had been taken away from me”, Fraser said: “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.” 

Below: watch the trailer for The Whale

The Whale, which sees Fraser star as an obese and reclusive English teacher trying to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption, isn’t due to hit UK cinemas until next year.

While it has been well received by critics, it has been criticised by some as being fatphobic – not just because Fraser had to don a fat suit and various prosthetics to play Charlie, a 600-pound gay man, but also because it presents fat people as incredibly unhealthy, as disgusting, and as plagued by trauma.

As Aubrey Gordon, the creator of Your Fat Friend, puts it on Twitter: “The stage play of The Whale opens with the lead character calling for help because he thinks he’s having a heart attack while masturbating to gay porn. It closes with that same main character dying from trying to walk across a room.

“There’s a lot of talk about judging a film before you’ve seen it, particularly amongst thin people. While it may feel important to reserve judgement, it’s perhaps more important not to put our heads in the sand. This is the source material: profoundly anti-fat from jump.”

Gordon adds: “The number of people who describe this premise as ‘humanising’ is so disheartening.

“If the only way you can ‘humanise’ a very fat person is to watch them humiliated, terrified, ashamed and killed off in a stereotypically stigmatising way, it’s time to do some serious reflecting.”

Addressing the controversy during an interview with Newsweek at the London Film Festival, Fraser said: “I’m not a small man – and I don’t know what the metric is to qualify to play the role. I only know that I had to give as honest a performance as I can.”

“I’m hopeful that we can change some hearts and minds at least in terms of how we think and feel about those who live with obesity,” Fraser continued. “So often, those people are dismissed in our society or [are] the object of scorn and derision, and it’s unfair to them.

“I believe that shaming people for that reason is almost the last domain of prejudice that we overlook, and I think we can do better to change that.”

The Whale will air in UK cinemas from 3 February 2023.

Images: Getty

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