Untangling the Armie Hammer ‘Cannibal’ and Abuse Allegations

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Laura Bradley
·8 min read
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Lars Niki/Getty
Lars Niki/Getty

The celebrity scandals that often prove hardest to ignore are the ones that seem to align with the subtle contours of the embattled star’s public image—arranging those small eccentricities that have accumulated over the years into something more legible and, often, more lurid. Example: Read just about any vintage profile of Armie Hammer right now, and you’ll give your eyebrows the workout of a lifetime.

Last week, a series of bizarre and alarming screenshots of messages allegedly between Hammer and a mistress emerged online. Those purported messages, none of which have been verified, encompassed slave fantasies, cannibalism fantasies, blood sucking, and mutilation. “I am 100% a cannibal,” one reads. “I want to eat you.” Another: “You just live to obey me and be my slave... I will own you. That’s my soul. My brain. My spirit. My body. Would you come and be my property till you die?” Another: “If I wanted to cut off one of your toes and keep it with me in my pocket so I always had a piece of you in my possession?”

Pop culture fans have been obsessing over the messages ever since. The Instagram account that first posted these images, House of Effie, has since begun posting allegations from other Instagram users, all of whom now collectively refer to themselves as “kittens”—a reference to the pet name used in some of the screenshots. Highlights on the account labeled “Hammer Horror” depict numerous alleged conversations, abuse accusations, previously unseen images of Hammer, and at least one disturbing video of a woman’s severely bruised neck. (The video implies that the bruises resulted from “CNC,” otherwise known as “consensual non-consent” or “rape play.”)

Hammer, meanwhile, has stepped away from the Jennifer Lopez rom-com Shotgun Wedding, and released a statement denying the screenshots.

“I’m not responding to these bullshit claims,” the actor said in a statement to TMZ Wednesday, “but in light of the vicious and spurious online attacks against me, I cannot in good conscience now leave my children for four months to shoot a film in the Dominican Republic... Lionsgate is supporting me in this and I’m grateful to them for that.” A representative for the production told Variety, “Armie has requested to step away from the film and we support him in his decision.”

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For years, the core of Hammer’s allure as a star has been the juxtaposition between his pedigree (ultra-wealthy, mega-WASP great-grandson of oil tycoon Armand Hammer) and his eagerness to talk about all the things rich white people from polite society never talk about. He “likes” tweets about BDSM, welcomes the opportunity to tell interviewers about his childhood cases of ringworm, and seems to revel in hinting at the kinkiness of his sex life.

“One chick tried to stab me when we were having sex,” the actor told Elle in 2013. “I should so not be telling this story... She was like, ‘True love leaves scars. You don’t have any.’ And then she tried to stab me with a butcher knife. Of course I promptly broke up with her... Seven months later.

In a Playboy interview, Hammer described how his marriage to Elizabeth Chambers changed his sexual inclinations. “I liked the grabbing of the neck and the hair and all that,” Hammer said. “But then you get married and your sexual appetites change. And I mean that for the better—it’s not like I’m suffering in any way. But you can’t really pull your wife’s hair. It gets to a point where you say, ‘I respect you too much to do these things that I kind of want to do.’” Hammer later said he’d been drinking during the interview. He and Chambers announced their divorce last year, after a decade of marriage.

But the alleged messages seem to amount to more than kinky sex—which can be part of any healthy partnership, provided there is consent and understanding on both sides. One House of Effie accuser, for instance, replied that having sex with a belt around her neck felt like “too much,” but to which the actor allegedly said he wouldn’t clasp the belt—and proceeded to do so anyway.

One of Hammer’s exes has even gone on the record to confirm that their relationship delved into dark, emotionally abusive territory.

Most people’s first introduction to Hammer was likely his stellar, masterfully priggish performance as the Winklevoss twins in 2010’s The Social Network. But despite that strong supporting performance, Hammer struggled to jump to the next level—leading man—in the years that followed. Culture writer Anne Helen Petersen documented the years-long struggle in a viral 2017 article, “Ten Long Years Of Trying To Make Armie Hammer Happen”—which the actor himself did not appreciate.

That began to change in 2017, as the stars seemed to begin aligning in Hammer’s favor. That year, he starred in Call Me by Your Name—and a video of him joyously dancing in the film went viral. Off-screen, he also called out James Woods for dating a 19-year-old when he was in his sixties, and started faving those BDSM tweets—which coalesced to boost him, if not to Internet Boyfriend status, to at least Offbeat Internet Crush.

As Petersen put it, the BDSM fascination, in particular, “provided the sort of seemingly authentic moment that celebrities at once yearn for and fear,” giving “his banal star image the lovable texture it so desperately needed.”

“It was the best thing that could’ve happened to Hammer’s career,” Petersen added. “Coupled with the James Woods tweet, it transformed him into a sort of meme-able internet hero, a mannequin onto which readers could drape their fantasies, whether they be of a feminist hero or a queer icon... Traditional PR never Made Armie Hammer happen. The internet, picking and choosing the parts of him that were actually exciting and interesting, did.”

Now, however, that attention has gone in the opposite direction. Eagle-eyed social media users are combing through Hammer’s social media channels, noting that he follows hashtags like #knifeskills and #shibari, the latter of which is a style of Japanese rope bondage used in some fetish play. The Daily Mail obtained video of Hammer licking unidentified white crystals off his friend’s hand while saying, “shit’s getting weird.” Another video seems to show Hammer drinking a beer while driving. The tabloid has also surfaced photos and video allegedly from Hammer’s private Instagram account—including a video of a woman on all-fours on a bed in lingerie, her buttocks apparently reddened, and an image of the actor taking a drag from a vape device alongside the caption, “When you realize they don’t test for DMT on drug tests,” followed by posts alluding to how he is required to take these tests to visit his kids.

And app founder Courtney Vucekovich, who dated Hammer after his divorce from Elizabeth Chambers last year, has started giving harrowing interviews about her experience with the actor.

“He said to me he wants to break my rib and barbecue and eat it,” Vucekovich recently told Page Six. She added: “He says, ‘I want to take a bite out of you.’ If I had a little cut on my hand, he’d like suck it or lick it.”

“He likes the idea of skin in his teeth,” Vucekovich said.

But Vucekovich also described emotional abuse to Page Six—and said that after her relationship with Hammer had ended, she was left with PTSD, and entered a 30-day course of intensive therapy.

“He enters your life in such a big way,” Vucekovich said. “He’s such a captivating person. He has such a presence and he’s aware of that and he uses it in such a way that most women would think, ‘Oh my gosh, this is amazing,’ but especially young women, that’s kind of the scary part—how good he is at active manipulation and making you feel like he’s never felt this way about anybody.”

Vucekovich said that Hammer convinced her to engage in sexual acts she was not comfortable with. “He quickly grooms you in the relationship,” she told Page Six. “He kind of captivates you and while being charming, he’s grooming you for these things that are darker and heavier and consuming. When I say consuming, I mean mentally, physically, emotionally, financially, just everything.”

Speaking with The Daily Mail, Vucekovich described Hammer as “a huge narcissist. He sends audio messages with pretty graphic stuff. I swear it’s because he likes the sound of his own voice. He’s obsessed with himself, but also hates himself at the same time. I don’t know how to explain it.”

Speaking with Entertainment Tonight, a source said Hammer’s ex-wife, Chambers, is “in complete shock... and feels like her world has been turned upside down. She is sickened by the various women’s claims.”

The source added that the children she shares with Hammer, their young daughter and son, are her priority right now. “She does not want them to be traumatized by everything going on.” Hammer remains in the Cayman Islands with their children.

Writer Jessica Ciencin Henriquez, who was linked to Hammer soon after his divorce, has spoken out about the alleged messages as well. “If you are still questioning whether or not those Armie Hammer DMs are real (and they are) maybe you should start questioning why we live in a culture willing to give abusers the benefit of the doubt instead of victims,” she wrote, adding, “Because some of you made it to adulthood without knowing what this is. Abuse: cruel and violent treatment of a person or animal.”

A representative for Hammer did not respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.

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