From silver spoons to accusations of sexual assault. The stomach-churning allegations against disgraced actor Armie Hammer and his chilling family history are at the center of a Discovery+ docuseries, which debuted Friday.
The three-part "House of Hammer" features Hammer's accusers, as well as the sister of Hammer's dad, businessman Michael Hammer, discussing an alleged history of abuse within her family.
Casey Hammer, who self-published a tell-all book, "Surviving My Birthright," in 2015, compares her family to the greedy, dysfunctional Roys at the center of HBO's "Succession" in a "House of Hammer" trailer. "On the outside, we were a perfect family," she says, "but magnify 'Succession' a million times, and it was my family."
Here's everything to know about Hammer and his downfall.
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Who is Armie Hammer?
The California native comes from a well-to-do family. Hammer, 36, is the great-grandson of Armand Hammer, for whom he is named. Armie's namesake amassed a $200 million fortune, according to Forbes, with his business ventures and investment in Occidental Petroleum.
"My entire life had been this long, pressured conversation about the family I represented," Armie Hammer told Entertainment Weekly in 2012. "'When you walk out the door, you represent us. You have to dress well and make sure your hair is combed.”’
Hammer told the magazine his parents "threatened to cut me off" when he divulged plans to drop out of his Los Angeles high school to be an actor, but claimed he was "not supported by (family money) in any way." He insisted he and then-wife Elizabeth Chambers, founder of Bird Bakery, supported their family on their own.
Hammer and Chambers, 40, split in 2020 after 10 years of marriage. They are parents to daughter Harper, 7, and son Ford, 5.
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What is Armie Hammer famous for?
After landing small parts in TV series like ABC's "Desperate Housewives" and CW's "Gossip Girl," Hammer's breakthrough role came in the 2010's "The Social Network." He played the dual roles of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, twins who accused Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg of stealing their idea for the platform.
Hammer continued to work steadily, arguably gaining the most notoriety for 2017's "Call Me By Your Name," an Oscar-nominated film depicting the romance between Hammer's Oliver and 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet).
Hammer last acted in the film adaptation of Agatha Christie's "Death on the Nile," released in February. A year prior, Hammer was dropped by his agency, William Morris Endeavor, following the allegations. Hammer also exited the Jennifer Lopez film "Shotgun Wedding," “Billion Dollar Spy” and the Paramount+ series "The Offer," about the making of "The Godfather," in the wake of the controversy.
Armie Hammer dropped by agency William Morris Endeavor following allegations of abuse
What is Armie Hammer accused of?
Courtney Vucekovich, who says she dated Hammer for a few months in 2020, revealed her dating history with the actor in a January 2021 interview with the New York Post's Page Six.
Throughout their relationship, Vucekovich (who is featured in "House of Hammer") claimed that Hammer manipulated and abused her: "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."
After the pair broke up, Vucekovich says she entered a 30-day partial hospitalization program geared toward those suffering from PTSD and trauma.
Paige Lorenze spoke to Page Six that same month about her allegedly abusive relationship with Hammer. She said she and Hammer dated for four months in 2020 and that she's seeking therapy as she processes the psychological effects of their relationship.
“There were red flags throughout the relationship," she said. "I guess I just put them to the side and he made me feel so confident at times.”
In March 2021, another woman, identified only as Effie, came forward, accompanied by her lawyer Gloria Allred, to accuse the movie star of raping and beating her over a four-hour period in Los Angeles in April 2017. Local police said they were investigating the allegation.
"He abused me mentally, emotionally and sexually," Effie said, weeping as she appeared at a news conference with Allred.
During the alleged attack, Effie said Hammer "repeatedly slammed my head against a wall, bruising my face. He also committed other acts of violence against me to which I did not consent."
Hammer, who strongly denied all accounts of his alleged crimes and unconventional sexual practices, responded through his lawyer, Andrew Brettler, who issued a statement at the time saying Effie sent Hammer texts that refute her "outrageous allegations."
"As recently as July 18, 2020, (Effie) sent graphic texts to Mr. Hammer telling him what she wanted him to do to her," Brettler's statement said. "Mr. Hammer responded making it clear that he did not want to maintain that type of relationship with her."
LAPD Officer Rosario Cervantes told USA TODAY in an email on Aug. 28 that "the case involving Armie Hammer is still ongoing and has not yet been presented to the district attorney."
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Why didn't Effie appear in the 'House of Hammer' docuseries?
Effie is against the "House of Hammer" docuseries, claiming the series continues to "exploit" her trauma.
"It is extremely inappropriate of you to exploit such a tragic, vulnerable time in many people’s lives, with no regard whatsoever for our healing process and privacy," she told the Los Angeles Times in a statement. "The way they’ve been exploiting my trauma is disgusting. When I keep screaming ‘no’ and they keep going, saying they don’t need my permission, they remind me of Armie."
Effie's attorney Allred did participate in an interview with the production without informing her, Effie alleged. Allred would not confirm the validity of the claim to USA TODAY, but offered: "Statements that I have made on behalf of clients have been made because the statements were consistent with our representation, were authorized either explicitly or implicitly, and were made because I believed that the statements were in the client’s best interests."
"House of Hammer" filmmaker Julian Hobbs told the Los Angeles Times production chose to go forward with the project without Effie because they didn't want to "get involved in something that the LAPD is still investigating."
As for still including her story, Hobbs said, "We feel we actually have an obligation to tell the stories. If you were to stop making films because someone said they didn’t want a film being made, you would never make a film."
Is Armie Hammer a cannibal?
Hammer's accusers say he talked about devouring their body parts.
“He said to me he wants to break my rib and barbecue and eat it,” Vucekovich told Page Six. “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. That’s about as weird as we got.”
In an interview with Vanity Fair as part of a March 2021 deep dive into Hammer and his family tree, Lorenze said "he would say things to me...weird stuff...like, ‘I want to eat your ribs.'"
"The scariest part of it is that I did love him in a way,” she added. “I would’ve let him kind of do anything. He had a certain hold over me.”
Contributing: Naledi Ushe, Maria Puente, David Oliver and Charles Trepany
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Armie Hammer controversy explained, from cannibalism to documentary