House of Hammer: Story Behind the Armie Hammer Documentary

House of Hammer is a dizzying new docuseries that tells the story of actor Armie Hammer and his wealthy family’s sprawling and sordid history. After multiple female victims of sexual misconduct made allegations against Hammer, Discovery+’s Discovery+ series was launched more than a year ago. They accused him of sexual assault, physical violence and cannibalism fantasies. One of the women, Effie (named Effie), accused Hammer of sexual assault. This claim is currently being investigated by Los Angeles Police Department. Hammer denies all allegations. However, he was not employed in Hollywood at the time the story began in 2021.

The series, which premieres Sept. 2 exclusively on Discovery+ and counts among its producers Armie’s aunt Casey Hammer, seeks to “reveal the dark, twisted secrets of the Hammer family.” As Casey Hammer tells TIME, “With Succession, people can say, ‘Oh my god, it’s such a powerful series and the acting is fabulous,’ but it’s all made up. It’s all scripted. But I’m here to say, my family is real and it’s a million times worse.” In the three episodes, Hammer’s ex Courtney Vucekovich details her experience with him in detail for the first time; Casey Hammer unearths the misdeeds the men in her family allegedly attempted to bury; and the Hammer web is untangled in great detail.

While the series plays into many viewers’ interest in the salacious details of the story, little of the information it offers is new. A large portion of what is shared was pulled from Casey’s 2015 book as well as a book written about Armie’s great-grandfather, Armand Hammer. The series doesn’t tell the story chronologically. Instead, it jumps from decade to decade and different Hammer men, trying to link it back to Armie. However, this is not always seamless or smooth.

The series’ revelations will be interesting to anyone who followed the story closely last year. Here’s what to know about Armie and his family’s legacy.

Armie Hammer is who and why does there exist a series about him?

Hammer was an actor who fell off the radar in 2021, after numerous women who shared their negative sexual experiences with Hammer spoke out. His breakout role was as the Winklevoss twins in 2010’s The Social Network. Hammer was the star of that film. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Luca Guadagnino’s Please Call me by my Name opposite Timotheé Chalamet, with many of his roles fitting into his pretty rich-boy persona. His career was buoyed by the success of this role, which led to him being offered roles alongside Jennifer Lopez. Shotgun WeddingIn This is the OfferThis series is about how to make it. The Godfather.

But in January 2021, an anonymous Instagram account surfaced with screenshots of what were allegedly Hammer’s texts, evolving from some potentially embarrassing kinks to darker insinuations around situations where there may have been a lack of consent. Hammer resigned from the unfinished projects he was working on after more details began to emerge and Effie made an accusation of Hammer with rape in March 2021. His agency CAA was also terminated. He also resigned from CAA in 2020.

House of HammerThese allegations have been made before, but this is not their first. A lot of Hammer’s claims were made based only on what they had shared with us on social media. The docuseries gave them the opportunity to talk at length in emotional testimonies about what they say they endured, while Armie’s aunt Casey argues that her nephew’s behavior has been seen within her family for decades.

We learn a lot about Armie Hammer through the Docuseries.

The most interesting part of House of Hammer is that Armie allegedly didn’t adhere to the rules of the BDSM community. Two consenting adults agree on the activities. Hammer, according to the documentary, shared his fantasies and coerced females into accepting uncomfortable circumstances in which they didn’t want to say no. It is common for doms and subs to discuss their comfort levels and limits in advance. One of Hammer’s accusers, Courtney Vucekovich, spoke at length about their relationship and how there was little to no discussion about Armie’s proclivities beforehand.

Vucekovich speaks in the first episode about a desert getaway that she says he invited her to, during which an event happened that “usually people talk about beforehand, but we didn’t talk about it.” Vucekovich does not elaborate on what exactly happened, but she says it caused her so much emotional distress that she checked herself into a rehabilitation facility. Hammer ended their relationship and Vucekovich began to see Paige Lorenze. He took Lorenze along on the desert trip. Vucekovich also noticed bruises all over Lorenze’s body in photos she posted on Instagram.

How does Casey Hammer fit in this story?

Casey is the sister of Armie’s father, Michael. Her book was self-published. How to Survive My BirthrightThis is a 2015 story about the Hammer family. The memoir details alleged misdeeds committed by the men in the Hammer family, which came to amass great wealth thanks to Armand’s business dealings as the CEO of Occidental Petroleum. Casey was the only female born to the family. She says it has its problems. “I wanted to be able to tell my story and help people heal as opposed to watch my nephew implode and self-destruct,” she tells TIME.

Casey discusses how her father was cruel to her mother and eventually ended up divorcing her. She says her grandfather Armand helped her father Julian “destroy” her mother in court and that a judge decided that Julian was only to pay “$200 a month in child support” despite being a man of great financial means. Casey, then a teen, didn’t visit her father for two years until her mom finally allowed her to, and she found herself in the middle of one of his lavish parties filled with cocaine, alcohol, and a number of young women—as young as 16 or 17, Casey says.

Michael, her brother, attended these father-son parties. She says he was around young women who were “impressionable” and “would do anything they’d say,” which led her to the observation “that women were disposable in the Hammer family.” She claims that this sentiment was carried throughout the Hammer family and eventually passed down to her nephew.

Legacy of the Hammer family

The farthest back the Hammer family timeline goes in the docuseries is to Armie’s great-great-grandfather, Julius Hammer. Julius, a Russian immigrant from Russia who arrived in the United States 1875, is often credited as the founder of America’s Communist Party. In the docuseries, Joseph Finder of the Harvard Russian Research Center says that the Russians funneled money through the Hammer family to fund the Communist party to “steal technology and trade secrets from the United States.”

When his son was born, Julius decided to name him after the symbol of the communist party: Armand Hammer was a portmanteau of ”arm and hammer.” As Armand came of age, he took over “what his father had built [in Russia],” says Edward Jay Epstein, who wrote a book about Armand. Finder describes his role during this time as a “money launderer, a courier for funds that were channeled to Soviet espionage.”

“Behind every great fortune is a great crime,” Epstein says. “Certainly behind the Hammer family, there were a great number of great crimes.”

According to an exposé in Vanity Fair, it’s not only a penchant for criminal activity but a certain attitude toward women that may also date back to this branch of the family tree. Armand was said to have been controlling towards at least one of his love interests and persuaded her to accept preferences in her bedroom that were uncomfortable for her. His grandson Michael reportedly also had tendencies that veered toward kink, with a memorable “sex throne” described in the Vanity Fair story.

These are all factors that have led to strained family dynamics. Armand came to America in 1930s during a time when there was a lot of disdain towards communism. His attempt to isolate himself from Olga and Julian led to him taking a paternity check. This fomented sense of disdain which the docuseries asserts made its way into Julian’s relationship with his son Michael. Julian was the heir to his family’s business. But Michael challenged him to succeed his father. Then Michael met Armie’s mother, Dru, who comes from a wealthy family in Tulsa, and the pair got married. In 1986, they had Armie, who was “like a prince,” Casey says in the docuseries, followed by a younger brother.

Armand passed away in 1990. Julian followed shortly thereafter in 1996.

What has the Hammer family said in response to the documentary and Casey Hammer’s Book?

The major players in the Hammer family—Julius, Armand, and Julian—all passed away before the turn of the millennium and the release of Casey’s book. Casey says that Michael, Armie’s father, made his feelings about Casey airing out the family’s dirty laundry quite clear in a private letter to her.

Casey is able to read portions of the letter towards the end. One excerpt goes: “Although we haven’t spoken in many years, I’ve heard the untrue and hurtful things you’ve recently said about our family,” the letter reads. “I can no longer remain quiet and allow you to feed your thirst for notoriety at the expense of our family and the Armand Hammer foundation. I have no other choice than to investigate every legal avenue to prove that what you are telling me is the truth. You share the blood running through my veins, and you’re still my family, and I wish you nothing but the best.”

Armie hasn’t made statements on the docuseries. But he did reply via lawyer to the accusations made by women in January 2021. “These assertions about Mr. Hammer are patently untrue. Any interactions with this person, or any partner of his, were completely consensual in that they were fully discussed, agreed upon, and mutually participatory,” his lawyer said. “The stories being perpetuated in the media are a misguided attempt to present a one-sided narrative with the goal of tarnishing Mr. Hammer’s reputation, and communications from the individuals involved prove that.”

Following the shocking allegations, Armie is now in a state of repose. After completing rehab, Armie was reported to have sold timeshares in Grand Cayman after completing it.

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