Armie Hammer’s aunt opens up about her family’s dark past, patterns of abuse: ‘You don’t just wake up one morning and become a monster’
Few stars shined brighter than Armie Hammer in 2017 after the release of 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 shocked by the allegations which included emotional abuse, rape, physical abuse and Hammer’s obsession with cannibalism. Everyone was surprised except for his aunt Casey Hammer, who says that Armie’s behavior is typical for 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 believe, based on my experience, I saw it from one generation to another and it just gets worse and worse and worse. So that’s why I wasn’t shocked.”
The Discovery+ docuseries House of Hammer begins with the rise and fall of Armie before examining how the bad behavior of men in his family helped to shape his path. The family’s patriarch and Armies’s great-grandfather, Armand Hammer, made a fortune running the oil company Occidental Petroleum in the ’70s and ’80s. Casey believes that the constant fight 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 out in public. My father was in and out of mental institutions and things needed to be covered up. He murdered someone and my grandfather turned that around and made it 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,” Casey reveals. “So as you see from the docuseries, he hosted parties, hosted royalty, heads of state, presidents, movie stars and it 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 that were, didn’t talk about what really happened inside.”
Over the course of three episodes, viewers get to peek behind the veil of privilege and power, where each Hammer man engaged in a wide array of illicit behaviors void of consequences. There were lies, secrets, cocaine fueled parties, domestic abuse and a rotating cast of young women who were treated like objects.
“Women in my family were disposable, we were ornaments. I was told that as long as I behaved and looked pretty and said the right things and didn’t embarrass my family, that I would be taken care of for the rest of my life. So that’s basically how, from my grandfather down, they viewed women,” Casey explains.
This mistreatment of women is what Casey believes set the tone for Armie’s alleged abuses. She’s glad that the women who spoke out against Armie are getting an opportunity to share their stories. That includes Courtney Vucekovich, Armie’s former girlfriend who plays a prominent role in the docuseries, where she details how the actor groomed her before letting his darker and more controlling side emerge. She’s often emotional in the series, detailing the the way he stalked her and manipulated her into sexual acts, like bondage, which made her feel violated. When Vucekovich eventually ended 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 that came forward. And how brave of them to speak, because we all know social media and we all know the haters and how that can gain momentum and it’s terrifying. No one should feel isolated and alone, and I’m here to let people know you’re heard, and I believe you, and your story is impactful,” says Casey.
In a statement to Vanity Fair in 2021, Armie’s lawyer Andrew Brettler said, “All interactions between Mr. Hammer and his former partners were consensual. They were fully discussed, agreed upon in advance with his partners, and mutually participatory. The stories perpetuated on social media were designed to be salacious in an effort to harm Mr. Hammer, but that does not make them true.”
“You saw my grandfather control the narrative in all aspects of his life, our life, and he got away with it. To have men that have money and privilege and power be able to manipulate women and control them and not be held accountable? That’s crazy. It’s criminal,” Casey says.
Casey first exposed her family’s dark side in her 2015 book, Surviving My Birthright. Today, she’s ready to share her entire truth, which includes a revelation in the docuseries 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 lived through molded me into the person I am today. And I really do love who I am today,” says Casey. “I can’t change the way my father felt about me. I can’t change the way they almost killed me a million times, and I can’t change the way that I felt about wanting to not be present. And in my book, I do detail about taking my life,” says Casey.
“Now thanks to the producers, House of Hammer will remind me of everything I’ve endured to be sitting here as a survivor, as a whole person.”
House of Hammer is now streaming on Discovery+.
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