The Untold Truth Of Armie Hammer

If there were an award for Hollywood's Perpetual Next Big Thing, it would be handed to actor Armie Hammer unanimously. Since landing his first feature role in 2008, Hammer has continually threatened to become Tinseltown's next massive box office draw, seemingly always on the edge of a household-name status that has stubbornly refused to materialize. This despite a wealth of leading roles in high-profile projects, and some genuinely awesome turns in very good films such as 2010's "The Social Network," 2017's "Call Me By Your Name," and 2018's "Sorry to Bother You."

Hammer has it all: Charisma, talent, movie-star good looks, and the kind of privileged background that should allow him to fail upwards, even absent any of those other things. Unfortunately, he also has a complete volume of issues that bubbled to the surface in the early 2020s — and eventually, those issues became too strange and public to ignore, totally derailing the Hammer train. Here's the untold truth of a man with one of the most strangely flat career trajectories in Hollywood, the A-list star who never was: Armie Hammer.

His family has a history of controversy

Armie Hammer's family is indeed wealthy, the kind of wealth that allows for private schools, mad connections, and the kind of everyday privileges that most of us can only dream about. But he doesn't come from a line of famous entertainers; the Hammer family has long been entangled in politics and oil, and in some decidedly questionable ways.

According to Vanity Fair, Hammer's great-great-grandfather, Julius Hammer, was a co-founder of the American Communist Labor Party, and a physician who briefly landed in prison after performing an abortion for the wife of a Russian diplomat, leading to her death. While in prison, he drew the admiration of Vladimir Lenin, and his son Armand Hammer (pictured) continued to have a cozy relationship with the Soviet Union. In a New York Times piece on Armand Hammer from 1981, the then-head of Occidental Petroleum was "credited" with maintaining solid business relationships with traditionally hostile countries like the USSR, and Libya under dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi. He was gifted a luxury apartment in Moscow by Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev, and in 1972, he even got into legal hot water for illegal campaign donations to disgraced president Richard Nixon — despite being a Democrat. The Times quoted an anonymous member of then-president Ronald Reagan's inner circle as saying, "We simply don't know which side of the fence Hammer is on."

He dropped out of high school to pursue acting

As a youth, Armie Hammer was enrolled in a small private Christian school, according to a 2011 profile by New York Magazine. Like many private school kids, he exhibited a bit of a rebellious streak, and he recalled "doing things that were so stupid and not even in my character, because I felt caged." Unlike most private school kids, those acts of rebellion included some light arson, complete with an ill-advised signature. "I poured lighter fluid outside the school and set it on fire," Hammer recalled. He went on to explain that he was caught because he had the bright idea to sign his name with said lighter fluid, and that he was subsequently "asked not to come back."

By his junior year in high school, he had permanently dropped out in order to pursue his acting career. A few small television roles and one film later, he landed his first feature lead — ironically, as the iconic TV evangelist Billy Graham in 2008's "Billy: The Early Years," directed by former '70s teen heartthrob Robby Benson (via IMDb). If you don't recall that landmark piece of cinema, you're not alone. As Hammer ruefully put it, "I got to be the title role in a movie, and then no one saw it."

Armie Hammer almost played Batman

Early in his career, Armie Hammer missed out on the kind of major career break that superhero movies were just beginning to dole out. In 2008, it was announced that legendary director George Miller was casting for his eagerly anticipated "Justice League: Mortal" — and that Hammer, all but unknown at the time, was up for the role of Bruce Wayne (via E! News), which could have been huge for him ... if the movie had actually happened.

The film's announcement came at the very time that "The Dark Knight," starring Christian Bale as ol' Bats, had just cemented itself as perhaps the greatest Batman movie of all time — but as we now know, there's always room for another Batman in movie theaters. Unfortunately, "Justice League: Mortal" got thrown onto a giant heap of superhero movies we'll never get to see, an experience that literally changed Miller's entire approach to promoting his films. Speaking about the lost project to Deadline in 2022, he cited it as a reason why he suddenly became very reluctant to discuss his upcoming movies. "We were very keen to do Justice League ... and there were already photographs and publicity out, and then that fell away," he said. The master filmmaker then explained that he decided that far before movies were coming within shouting distance of production was probably too early to be doing promotion.

He starred in one of the biggest flops of all time

Armie Hammer finally got noticed with a breakout role (or two) in 2010's Best Picture Oscar nominee "The Social Network," in which he played twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. His performance drew him more acclaim and attention than ever before (via Reuters), and it looked like the stars might be aligning for the guy. Then, just like that, presto! In 2011, it was announced that Hammer had landed the title role in Disney's mega-budget adaptation of "The Lone Ranger" (via MovieWeb). It was Hammer time, baby!

Or, not. "The Lone Ranger" was released in 2013 to brutal reviews (via Rotten Tomatoes), widespread indifference, and a not-insignificant amount of ridicule lobbed at Hammer's co-star and noted white man Johnny Depp, who played Native American sidekick Tonto in a costume and makeup that could politely be described as "baffling." The film became one of the most infamous bombs in cinematic history; Variety reported in 2013 that the film was expected to lose a whopping $190 million after its marketing costs were figured in. Hammer and Depp, speaking with Yahoo! News, took the slightly un-diplomatic route of blaming critics for the film's failure, which is sort of like blaming a raging dumpster fire on a fire extinguisher. It might have been enough to sink any young actor's career — but the roles kept coming for Hammer, in pictures like "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." in 2015, "Nocturnal Animals" in 2016, and "Call Me By Your Name" in 2017, another Best Picture nominee.

A bizarre Playboy interview gave a glimpse of his future troubles

Even as his career was sort of chugging along, Armie Hammer was taking up a new hobby: Saying problematic things in a very public fashion. One of the most alarming of these came in 2013 during a Playboy interview, and it seemed to offer an early glimpse into Hammer's ... not-so-mainstream sexual proclivities, ones which would become even more public in later years.

At the time, Hammer was married to journalist Elizabeth Chambers, and the interviewer mentioned the fact that Hammer had previously expressed his interest in knots. In response to the question, "Is there anything we need to know about your sex life?," Hammer offered way too many personal details. "I used to like to be a dominant lover," he said. "I liked the grabbing of the neck and the hair and all that." But, Hammer said, getting married had changed his outlook. "It gets to a point," he explained, "where you say, 'I respect you too much to do these things that I kind of want to do.'" The worrying implication, of course, is that respect was not a necessary ingredient for his pre-marriage sexual encounters. 

Apropos of nothing, Hammer and Chambers split in 2020, after he allegedly sent her a raunchy text meant for somebody else (via Vanity Fair).

Armie Hammer developed a reputation for eccentric behavior

Even as Armie Hammer embellished his reputation as a talented actor with his turns in "Call Me By Your Name" and "Sorry to Bother You," he also embellished his reputation as a man seemingly made of red flags. In 2019, he grossed out the entire internet with a since-deleted Instagram post featuring his then-2-year-old son Ford sucking on his toes. The clip was accompanied by a caption that considerably upped the squick factor: "This happened for a solid 7 minutes ... foot fetish on fleek" (via HuffPost).

Then, also in 2019, the Los Angeles Times reported that Hammer and other famous types were rightly getting swamped with criticism over their support of MDL Beast, a music festival taking place in the human rights-challenged nation of Saudi Arabia. In yet another since-deleted Instagram post, Hammer gushed, tone-deafly: "What I just witnessed was truly special. I saw Saudi men and women ecstatic about an event that they never thought they would ever see in their lifetimes ... it felt like a cultural shift. A change." He went on to compare the event to Woodstock (the original, not the 1999 mega-disaster), and to opine that MDL Beast would kick off a giant, revolutionary cultural shift in the country. This, of course, did not happen — and the event's other celebrity supporters, such as Alessandra Ambrosio, Ed Westwick, and Ryan Phillippe, likewise ended up with egg on their famous faces.

The scandal floodgates broke open in 2020

In 2020, a pair of women, Courtney Vucekovich and Paige Lorenze, came forward with details of the intense and bizarre relationships they had had with Armie Hammer after his split with Elizabeth Chambers, both later detailing their experiences to Vanity Fair. "Day one, he makes you feel bad for him; it's when he makes himself look like a victim," Vucekovich said. "You're the only girl in the whole world. And then he starts the manipulation and the darker stuff." She explained that she ended up in treatment for trauma after Hammer talked her into "a bondage scenario that [she] was not comfortable with."

Lorenze asserted that her relationship with Hammer got even darker. "He started making rules for me of things I could and couldn't do ... I just started to feel really unsafe and really sick to my stomach about things," she said. She went on to call Hammer "kind of scary," and had even once made a comment about wanting to eat her ribs. Lorenze said she came forward to bring more attention to the issue of consent, that the relationship with Hammer had brought into focus for her just how thorny an issue consent can be, and she expressed her hope to start a charitable organization calling attention to the issue.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their websiteIf you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

A high-profile completed film was thrown into turmoil over the scandal

Unfortunately, it didn't take long for the scandal to worsen. Later in 2021, an anonymous woman going by the name of "Effie" came forward to allege that Armie Hammer had violently assaulted her in a hotel room in 2017. Hammer, she said, "repeatedly slapped [her] head against a wall," along with "other acts of violence against [her] to which [she] did not consent" (via Variety). 

Beyond the obvious horror of the allegations, they threw into question a pretty darned high-profile project: Disney's adaptation of Agatha Christie's "Death on the Nile," which was already completed, and which featured Hammer among its ensemble cast.

As also reported by Variety near the end of the year, it was speculated that Disney had several options to choose from in order to mitigate the potential damage caused by Hammer's flameout, including re-shooting his parts and/or sending the movie straight to streaming. In the end, though, the movie was released as planned — promoted by a trailer noticeably light on Hammer, who did not take part in any of the film's press junkets.

Armie Hammer's film career took a serious hit

Disney may have been a little tentative in distancing itself from Armie Hammer, but as far as "Death on the Nile" goes, it was at least relatively easy to downplay his presence among a gargantuan cast of superstars. As it happened, Hammer had a couple more prominent roles lined up at the time the scandal broke, and those projects were quick to drop him like a hot, morally-questionable potato.

In January 2021, it was reported that Hammer had been dumped from "Shotgun Wedding," a rom-com in which he was to star opposite Jennifer Lopez. Hammer spun this by saying that he couldn't take time off to be away from his children (via Deadline). Near-immediately thereafter, though, Variety reported that "The Offer," the Paramount+ series about the making of "The Godfather," had also bestowed upon Hammer his walking papers. Just a week after that, as was pretty much inevitable, the news broke that both Hammer's agency and his publicist had jettisoned him, which probably didn't have much to do with his parental availability (via the Hollywood Reporter).

He still couldn't stay away from controversy

With all of his scandals, one would think that Armie Hammer would do his best to lay low for awhile, perhaps remove himself from the public eye altogether, or — at the very least — refrain from posting things on social media that could further call his character into question. This, however, was not the case. In the middle of it all, Hammer took off to the Cayman Islands (where he had lived as a child), and the King of Since-Deleted Instagram Posts tossed up a doozy: A video of a young woman, scantily clad and in a ... compromising position, which he captioned, "Miss Cayman."

Now, the Caymans have a beauty pageant by a very similar name, and the organization was quick to respond with a terse statement: "The Committee is very disturbed by the video and would like to confirm that the woman is not the reigning Miss Cayman Islands and has no affiliation to the Miss Cayman Islands Universe pageant." Hammer, too, felt the need to publicly clarify, releasing a statement to the Cayman Compass newspaper hand-waving the post as a "foolish attempt at humor" (via ABC News). 

According to its website, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service didn't find the situation to be too funny; they briefly checked into Hammer over the post, and warned him against such conduct in the future before closing the investigation.

He seems to have found a new gig after his Hollywood exile

Finally, in 2022 came what should probably be, but is almost certainly not, the final chapter in this sad saga. That bastion of level-headedness TMZ published a report in July of that year, along with photos, stating that Armie Hammer had once again been spotted in the Cayman Islands. This time, however, he appeared to have landed himself a new job: Selling time shares and acting as a "personal concierge" at Morritt's, a Grand Cayman resort. Hammer's camp didn't respond to entreaties for a comment — at least, not at that time.

Just a few days later, Variety reported that it had spoken with an unnamed source who informed them that, yes, Hammer was indeed employed by the resort, as he was "totally broke." The very next day, People published a report citing an "insider," who offered up the following: "[Hammer] is currently selling timeshares because he needs the money ... His dad won't help him anymore and he's been cut off, so he got to work." Hammer's lawyer had finally chimed in by this point, telling People that while he didn't "know anything about" the actor's current gig, he did find it to be "s****y that the media seems to be shaming him for having a 'normal job.'"

In an interview with Air Mail in February 2023, Hammer responded to those allegations, saying that he never actually worked. While, yes, he was interested, the attention he received actually got him in trouble with immigration because he didn't have a work permit. "I wasn't on salary, I wasn't making money, I wasn't on payroll," he said.

Armie Hammer's entire Hollywood career has been called into question

In the wake of all of this awfulness, the internet began regurgitating one of its longtime beefs with Armie Hammer: That, as a good-looking, straight, white man of privilege, he had been afforded far more chances to become a highly bankable movie star than he deserved. The opinion was crystallized in a 2017 Buzzfeed editorial titled, "Ten Long Years of Trying to Make Armie Hammer Happen," which noted that despite a string of high-profile flops like "The Lone Ranger," "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," and "The Birth of a Nation," Hollywood just kept tapping him on the shoulder — even as his public image kept steadily eroding.

A 2017 profile in The Journal similarly noted that unlike, say, Jon Hamm, Hammer never had to wait tables while waiting to break into the big time. The issue became glaring enough that Hammer himself addressed it in a 2019 interview with the Independent, wherein he said a lot of the right words. He said, for example, that the fact that his feet were up on the table at the time could be construed as a failure to check his privilege. "I mean like, I'm just being comfortable and relaxed, but ... there are things all the time that I catch myself doing and I think, 'Wait a second, is this white privilege? Yeah, I think it is. Look at what I'm doing. Yeesh.'" The interviewer noted that his feet, however, stayed on the table.

He's defended himself from allegations

As the early 2020s brought bad news and press on Armie Hammer, the actor's initial response was to call the allegations against him bogus and announce he was leaving the cast of "Shotgun Wedding" because of them. As allegations of sexual abuse played out publicly, Hammer maintained silence. But in February 2023, Air Mail published a lengthy article on Hammer's misfortunes, built in part on an interview with him.

In the piece, Hammer made public that he had been sexually abused as a child by a youth pastor from his family church, and he attributed his interest in B.D.S.M. sexual practices to a need to have sexual control after that abuse. He also maintained that the online name Effie, later confirmed to be Efrosina Angelova, made first contact with him through suspicious inquiries about charitable work. Messages by Angelova to Hammer's wife, obtained by Air Mail for the article, suggested a consensual affair that she pursued. And in messages to others, Angelova said that there was no assault (she did not comment on the Air Mail piece). Hammer denied doing anything illegal, or any sexual act with his partners without their consent.

He did concede to drug, alcohol, and sex addictions, and he accepted that some of his relationships were emotionally abusive. Hammer said he had recovered from his addictions and was in a healthier place than he had been before the scandal, having entertained suicidal thoughts in 2020.