Few stars shone brighter than Armie Hammer in 2017 following his release Call me by your name. Just four years later, Hammer’s career would come to a screeching halt after several women came forward with sexual assault allegations in 2021.
Social media quickly erupted in shock at the allegations, which included emotional abuse, rape, physical abuse and Hammer’s obsession with cannibalism. Everyone was surprised except his aunt Casey Hammer, who says Armie’s behavior is typical of the men in their family.
“You don’t just wake up one morning and become a monster, it’s a learned behavior,” Casey says. “It’s something that I think, based on my experience, I’ve seen from one generation to the next and it just keeps getting worse and worse. That’s why I wasn’t shocked.”
The Discovery+ documentaries House of Hammer begins with Armie’s rise and fall before examining how the bad behavior of the men in his family helped shape his path. Family patriarch and Armies’ great-grandfather, Armand Hammer, made a fortune running oil company Occidental Petroleum in the 1970s and 1980s. Casey believes the constant struggle for power and approval tore her family apart and explains that the Hammer empire was a million times more dysfunctional than the Roy family from the hit HBO show Succession.
“You had my grandfather, my father, my brother, all vying for control, all vying to get my grandfather’s attention in public. My father was in and out of mental institutions and things had to be covered. He murdered someone and my grandfather turned it around and acted in self defense and covered it up. And back then, my grandfather had a lot of money, so he could control what was reported and what wasn’t reported,” Casey reveals. “So, as you can see from the documentaries, he threw parties, hosted royals, heads of state, presidents, movie stars and was a who’s who in Hollywood. Every few months there was a black-tie event, so everyone wanted to be on that guest list, and the people who were, didn’t talk about what really happened inside.”
Over the course of three episodes, viewers can peek behind the veil of privilege and power, where each Hammer Man engages in a wide range of illegal behavior without consequence. There were lies, secrets, cocaine-fueled parties, domestic abuse and a rotating cast of young women treated like objects.
“The women in my family were disposable, we were ornaments. They told me that as long as I behaved and looked nice and said the right things and didn’t embarrass my family, they would take care of me for the rest of my life. That’s basically how women were viewed from my grandfather down,” Casey explains.
This mistreatment of women is what Casey believes sets the tone for Armie’s alleged abuses. She’s glad the women who spoke out against Armie are getting a chance to share their stories. This includes Courtney Vucekovich, Armie’s ex-girlfriend who plays a prominent role in the documentaries, where she describes how the actor groomed her before letting his darker and controlling side emerge. She is often emotional in the series, detailing how he stalked her and manipulated her into sexual acts such as slavery, which left her feeling violated. When Vucekovich finally ends the relationship with Armie, she reveals that she checked herself into a treatment program for trauma and PTSD.
“How scary and sad for the victims who have come forward. And how brave of them to speak up, because we all know social media and we all know haters and how that can gain momentum and it’s scary. No one should feel isolated and alone, and I’m here to let people know that you are heard and I believe you, and your story makes an impact,” says Casey.
In a statement to Vanity fair in 2021, Armie’s attorney Andrew Brettler said, “All interactions between Mr. Hammer and his former associates were consensual. They were fully discussed, agreed upon in advance with his associates, and mutually participatory. The stories perpetuated on social media networking sites were designed to screw you up in an attempt to hurt Mr. Hammer, but that doesn’t make them real.”
“You saw my grandfather controlling the narrative in all aspects of his life, our lives, and he got away with it. To have men who have money, privilege and power be able to manipulate and control women and not be held accountable? This is crazy. It’s criminal,” Casey says.
Casey first revealed her family’s dark side in her 2015 book. Surviving My Birthright. Today, she’s ready to share her whole truth, which includes a documentary revelation that her father, Julien Hammer, sexually abused her as a child.
“I may not understand how I got to this point, but I know that every experience I’ve had has shaped me into the person I am today. And I really love who I am today,” says Casey. “I can’t change the way my father felt about me. I can’t change the way I almost got killed a million times, and I can’t change the way I felt like I wished I wasn’t there. And in my book, I go into detail about taking my own life,” Casey says.
“Now thanks to the producers, House of Hammer it will remind me of all that I have endured to sit here as a survivor, as a whole person.”
House of Hammer now airing on Discovery+.
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