There was a time when it looked as though Armie Hammer might wind up facing criminal charges for the allegations against him.
What started as one of the most bizarre sex scandals in recent memory — screenshotted text messages revealed Hammer’s fetish for cannibal fantasies — soon showed itself to be something depressingly familiar.
Multiple women came forward to accuse Hammer of sexual assault, and while the once-beloved actor admitted to rampant infidelity and hard drug use, he maintained that the rape allegations were completely fabricated.
For a while it looked as though his career and family life might have survived the scandal.
In the past week alone, came two surprising indications that the actor’s reputation had emerged relatively unscathed.
First, we learned that Hammer and wife Elizabeth Chambers are back together following a separation of nearly a year.
Around that same time, Death on the Nile — the last major film that Armie completed work on before his downfall — was released in theaters.
In the past, actors who had been exposed as predators were edited out of Hollywood films and had their scenes re-shot by new stars.
The most famous example of this is the instance in which Kevin Spacey was removed from the Ridley Scott film All the Money In the World and replaced by Christopher Plummer, who was nominated for an Oscar for the role.
There was no talk of removing Hammer from Death on the Nile, and he wasn’t even edited out of the film’s trailer.
Many took this as a sign that he might weather the storm of scandal, even as he prepares for the possibility that he’ll be sued by his accusers.
After all, Hammer was investigated by police, but no charges were filed.
And even amid the more enlightened environment of post-#MeToo Hollywood, the powers that be decided that Hammer’s crimes were not so severe as to warrant the expense of digitally replacing him.
However, two recent developments suggest that Hammer’s road to forgiveness will be long and difficult — if it exists at all.
For one thing, Death on the Nile performed horribly at the box office.
Even before the film opened it became something of a grim joke, with many branding it the most problematic film project in recent memory.
Hammer stars alongside Gal Gadot, who’s become a symbol of the tone deaf privilege that accompanies extreme wealth, as well as Letitia Wright and Russell Brand, both of whom are said to be Covid vaccine skeptics.
“It’s finally happening! February 11th starring a cannibal, a apologist for ethnic cleansing and not one but two anti-vaxxers oh and Sir Ken [Kenneth Branagh] in a funny moustache!” one person tweeted this week, according to The New York Post.
“We need the most problematic people in Hollywood or this movie won’t work. We definitely need an antivaxxer who shut down another production, we need the girl that got celebrities to sing ‘Imagine’ from their mansions, and we ABSOLUTELY need a cannibal,” another joked.
Of course, actors endure the humiliation of box office failures all the time, but in Hammer’s case the embarrassment is multiplied by the fact that it’s renewed interest in his recent scandals.
Rumors that Hammer was being investigated for murder have made the rounds again, and while there’s no truth to those reports, many are calling for a more thorough investigation into the sexual assault claims against the actor.
In other words, it may be a very long time before a director or studio takes a risk by casting Hammer again.